Brighton guest director Rokia Traoré festival highlights

Published: 4 April 2019

The 2019 Brighton Festival will present a number of UK and world premières in its curated programme under this years guest director, Malian musician Rokia Traoré.

Festival commission Eye to Eye at Brighton Dome Concert Hall began when writer and theatre-maker Sheila Hill was intrigued to find herself craving music during her pregnancy in 1998, informed by the rollercoaster of the first seven years of motherhood and compiled by working from diaries and notes of two decades ago. Set to music by composer Howard Skempton, it will be performed by a 100-voice chorus of women and children with soloist Melanie Pappenheim.

In Talawa Theatre Company's The Tide, another Festival commission in the theme of migration co-created by writer Ryan Calais Cameron and choreographer Jade Hackett, a dinghy is washed up on a shore, carrying the hopes, aspirations and dreams of its passengers as they clamber out onto land.

In the UK première of TrapTown, choreographer Wim Vandekeybus has joined forces with architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh to create a world riven by a long-running conflict but where the sparks of freedom are emerging using dance, film, spoken word and an original musical score by Trixie Whitley and Phoenician Drive.

Another Star to Steer By is a new live show at Brighthelm Centre. One day, Maya packs her bag, ready to say goodbye to her home. As she leaves, she finds a little paper boat and begins a very big adventure.

Guest Director Rokia Traoré will also bring three exclusive performances to Brighton, opening with her blues rock band to perform the album Né So, which translates as ‘home’ in the Bambara language. Dream Mandé: Djata is the UK première of a monologue structured around the West African griot tradition of oral history storytelling accompanied by two musicians on kora and n’goni instruments. Dream Mandé: Bamanan Djourou is a group performance with an orchestra and choir with re-arrangements of traditional Malian melodies and contemporary songs by the likes of Bob Marley and Fela Kuti.

Brighton Festival runs from 4 to 26 May 2019.

David Chadderton