Brighton Festival 2022 – all you need to know

Guest co-director Marwa Al-Sabouni

There will be more than 150 events, exhibitions and installations from May 7 to 29. 124 events or installations will take place indoors on several sites. 36 events will be free.

There will also be ten Festival Commissions, two world premieres and three UK premieres.

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And to celebrate its return to pre-pandemic scale and capacity this year, the Festival will also widen its reach across Sussex, welcoming more community and local programming partners than ever before.

Co-guest directors Marwa Al-Sabouni and Tristan Sharps upheld the rebuilding theme, with a huge range of events, both indoors and outdoors and at unique locations around the city and across Sussex.

The aim, they say, is to help “cement the Festival’s reputation as a melting pot of ideas, illuminating and commenting on the complexities of the world”.

This is the first year that the Festival has had two guest co-directors, Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni and Tristan Sharps, artistic director of Brighton-based theater makers dreamthinkspeak.

They will explore the theme of reconstruction as inspiration for this year’s program,

Marwa said it would remedy “the loss of what brings us together and what gives us hope”.

Tristan promised a way “to reconnect with our environment, the world and ourselves”.

Major plans for 2022 include the world premiere of Unchain Me, a unique new site-specific Brighton Festival commission from dreamthinkspeak, directed by Tristan Sharps. Their multimedia performance which takes place in venues across the city is inspired by Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed and is made possible by main support, the Pebble Trust. The Trust’s new annual support for major Brighton Festival productions and installations will provide audiences with innovative and unique ways to see and experience the city.

Marwa Al-Sabouni collaborated with Syrian architect Ghassan Jansiz to design a brand new space for social and artistic exchange on the Hove waterfront, The Riwaq, inspired by her own Syrian architectural heritage. The Riwaq will host programming partners Carousel, Little Green Pig, Best Foot Music and In-house Records, showcasing the creativity of our communities across the region throughout the year.

Marwa Al-Sabouni said: “The Rebuild theme is our response to the many forms of erosion that have occurred all over the world in recent years. Not only the physical destruction of homes and communities, but also the loss of what brings us together and what gives us hope. The Brighton Festival offers us all a wonderful opportunity to look at Rebuilding through the wide range of creativity it welcomes. We will be honored to see you all there!

Tristan Sharps added: “I hope the Festival can play a role in challenging and transforming the way we perceive our surroundings and ourselves. The collaboration with Marwa has already changed the way I see the city and the world I live in. I look forward to sharing this experience with Marwa and with Brighton in May.

Andrew Comben, Managing Director of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said: “It is a joy to launch this year’s Festival with a return to the scale and ambition for which Brighton Festival is known. Marwa and Tristan have inspired a community of artists and partners to contribute to an extraordinarily rich program and we really look forward to sharing these experiences with everyone in May. With the unwavering support of funders Brighton & Hove City Council, Arts Council England and DCMS’s Cultural Recovery Fund as well as major sponsors, supporters and our audience, we can emerge from the pandemic to play our full part in rebuilding confidence and cohesion of our communities through arts and culture.

Original commissions for this year’s Brighton Festival include internationally acclaimed choreographer and former Brighton Festival guest director Hofesh Shechter presenting Double Murder, performed by his inimitable dance company to Schechter’s original score; as well as choreographer and performer Charlotte Spencer’s new dance piece, Written in the Body, explores how physical contact holds communities together and what happens when it disappears.

UK premieres include Witness, a new installation by award-winning artist Emma Critchley, using underwater dance, speech and science to connect the human body to vanishing glaciers; and acrobats from the exhilarating Australian ensemble Circa will present Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring on the stage of the Cirque de Sacre. Emma Rice’s Wise Children will also return to the Brighton Festival with her critically acclaimed musical version of Wuthering Heights, as part of a UK tour.

The Festival continues its innovative site-specific events with the UK premiere of Witness Stand. Australian artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey have commissioned a community of Brighton-linked writers and sound artists to create moving sound installations at outdoor venues in the area. On a smaller, but no less dramatic scale, architect and artist Mohamad Hafez will bring Journeys from an Absent Present to a Lost Past – his extraordinary miniature streetscapes evoking the ongoing Syrian conflict – in a co-production with Fabrica de Brighton.

Musical highlights include exclusive Brighton Festival performances of the Syrian Musicians Orchestra, who many will know from their work with Damon Albarn and Gorillaz; and Grammy-nominated Californian trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, whose work combines funk, hip-hop and classical influences. In a trio of great orchestral moments, Marta Gardolinska conducts the London Symphony Orchestra; Ilan Volkov conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Brighton Festival Chorus; and the New Regency Orchestra, supported by Gilles Peterson, offer an incendiary big band version of Afro-Cuban classics.

Brighton Festival partnerships are going from strength to strength, bringing communities together to enjoy the best arts and cultures in the region. The Without Walls outdoor program will extend beyond Brighton & Hove to partner events with Creative Crawley in Crawley itself. A special performance by the Brighton & East Sussex Youth Orchestra will feature pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason and involve young people from across East Sussex; and a contemporary music partnership with De La Warr Pavilion will welcome Corinne Bailey Rae, Warpaint and The Unthanks to Bexhill in May, helping to ensure that this year’s Festival has greater reach than ever before.

Residents of Hangleton and Knoll, East Brighton, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean will once again host Our Place in 2022. This free and inclusive celebration of community creativity sees the Festival working in partnership with community steering groups to select, program and produce projects arts, performances and events. for these communities and their neighborhoods.

The Brighton Festival continues its reputation as a lively platform for discussion and debate with 35 events for all ages. Festival co-director Marwa Al-Sabouni will examine the role architecture can play in building community through her most recent book, Building for Hope; a joint event with the Charleston Festival invites the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, Abdulrazak Gurnah, to discuss his work and his childhood in Zanzibar; and former Brighton festival director Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell and AM Dassu will be among the authors exploring their latest books and sharing inspiration through our Young Readers programme.

The Global Conversations and COP Conversations series offer new perspectives on nature, identity and new realities; and The Festival of Ideas returns in partnership with the University of Sussex and the Attenborough Center for the Creative Arts (ACCA), through a series of thought-provoking screenings and talks that explore new ways of thinking about the past, present and life. ‘coming.

In a welcome return to the streets of Brighton, the Festival begins with the much-loved Children’s Parade on Saturday May 7, after an enforced two-year hiatus. Produced in conjunction with award-winning community art charity Same Sky, this riot of color and creativity revolves around the themes of rebuilding and hope, celebrating the strength and resilience of local communities and what can be achieved when we listen and work together.

Closing the Festival in style, Charles Hazlewood’s inimitable Paraorchestra will present SMOOSH! This festive musical parade through the streets of Brighton invites audiences young and old to join in with pop-karaoke classics from Fatboy Slim, Kate Bush and Basement Jaxx.

For full details of the Brighton Festival 2022 program visit


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