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Immersed in culture
The “passions and interests” of Oscar-winning actress and political activist Vanessa Redgrave will be explored in the 46th Brighton Festival 2012 this month.
The city’s unrivalled celebration of art and culture has appointed the acclaimed actress as its guest director this year.
She follows in the distinguished footsteps of last year’s guest director, the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose appointment took the art world by surprise.
The programme was built around her struggle for freedom of speech, democracy and giving a voice to the powerless, a theme to be continued this year by Ms Redgrave, who will focus her contributions on exploring these critical questions.
Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, says, “It is very exciting for us to be in the hands of one of our most renowned and respected British actors, Vanessa Redgrave.
"It’s a privilege to have such a great ambassador of the performing arts at the helm of Brighton Festival and to explore many of her passions and interests across our three-week programme.
Revealing our guest director is now one of the most anticipated aspects of our internationally acclaimed festival, and I know that Ms Redgrave’s guest directorship will surprise, delight and provokeAndrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Festival
“Revealing our guest director is now one of the most anticipated aspects of our internationally acclaimed festival, and I know that Ms Redgrave’s guest directorship will surprise, delight and provoke.”
Ms Redgrave says, “It’s a wonderful thing to me. This is a very gracious festival and it is a great honour to be asked to really be part of it.”
The programme reflects her political activism, which has pursued alongside her acting career for decades: she has attended many trade union conferences and political rallies in Brighton, has been a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador since 1995 and has campaigned for many causes, including the release of inmates at Guantanamo Bay and, more recently, against the eviction of travellers at Dale Farm in Essex.
In fact, the opening event of the festival, which runs until Sunday, May 27, is a celebration of her life.
Political themes link many of the events headlining this year’s festival.
The world’s first ever staged interpretation of A World I Loved by Wadad Makdisi Cortas, the story of an Arab woman whose life spanned over half a century, through the creation of Israel, the expulsion of the Palestinians and the Lebanon Civil War, is presented by Vanessa Redgrave, Nadim Sawalha and members of Cortas’s family at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Saturday, May 12.
This year’s festival programme is packed with premieres and exclusives, including the new dreamthinkspeak production The Rest Is Silence, a site-specific deconstruction of Hamlet, which runs for the full three weeks of the festival at the Malthouse Estate Warehouse in Shoreham.
Sir Michael Tippett’s rarely-performed opera King Priam, with the concert performance by the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Sian Edwards, will be at the Dome Concert Hall at 7pm on Sunday, May 27, marking the 50th anniversary of the opera’s debut.
Acclaimed choreographer Trisha Brown opens her UK tour at Brighton Festival.
Four landmark Trisha Brown pieces are followed by the dance adaptation of Brown’s 2010 staging of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s one-act opera Pygmalion.
In new work, British artist David Batchelor draws connections between traditional street festival decorations in Palermo and the vernacular of Brighton’s Regency architecture.
The world premiere of Brighton Palermo Remix has been created as a site-specific piece for The Regency Townhouse in Hove, and is on Wednesdays to Sundays until Sunday, May 27.
Frauke Requardt and David Rosenberg follow on the success of Electric Hotel in 2010 with the world premiere of Motor Show, a large-scale outdoor dance performance for which the audience wears headphones to transport them aurally to the intimate interiors of the cars they can see approaching from a distance. At Black Rock, near Brighton Marina, at 9.45pm until Sunday, May 13.
Waterlitz is another UK premiere, featuring a spectacular mobile performance involving an immense metallic scarecrow, a crowd of giant sentinels created from blocks of ice, fireworks and aerial ballet by renowned French outdoor street theatre company Generik Vapeur.
See Waterlitz at Black Rock, 9.30pm on Saturday, May 26.