Show Calendar

The Messy Edge

Messy Edge Web
Asad J Malik
Emma Frankland

Laurence Hill, Director of Brighton Digital Festival and curator of The Messy Edge, wrote his thoughts on the upcoming conference for us. The Messy Edge is Brighton Digital Festival’s in house conference which takes place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts and is supported by us and the Sussex Humanities Lab. Join us for the event on Friday 28 September. The full line up and tickets for the conference can be found here.

The underpinning of the Messy Edge remains the same as it was in 2017. We cannot build a better future on the deeply flawed foundations of the present. Digital technology is not something that we can use to paper over the cracks, despite what futurists and ‘technochauvanists’ (Meredith Broussard) would have us believe. We cannot ignore the complicated, messy and ugly facts of our current social realities. The Messy Edge is not about technophobia either, we believe in the power that digital has to make better futures for everyone. The house position is, officially, critical optimism.

This year we are examining in/visibility and vulnerability in digital spaces and their echoes in the world.

I started by questioning the idea of the ‘right to be forgotten’, to have search results erased, not to be tracked across the internet and be targeted by ads in ways that seem occult-like in their ability to read your mind or to have overheard your conversations. There are many interesting and important implications in that, and they may well be touched on during the conference but it struck me that you have to be visible before you can demand the right to be forgotten.

Many people are not represented online in meaningful ways, they fight to be heard in spaces that were not designed for them and against systems that have been built to exclude them - this is as true online as it is off. Visibility brings affirmation for marginalised groups but equally, it increases vulnerability.

The tensions around in/visibility and vulnerability are something that I’m interested in and helped to shape the lineup of this year’s conference.

We have speakers exploring surveillance, immigration, vulnerable communities, access to knowledge, representation and the erasure of the line between knowledge and action. We’re exploring fundamental shifts in human behaviour and the slow gif movement.

Our speakers are historians, artists, activists, designers and academics but the Messy Edge is not solely an arts conference, nor is it an academic one - it is designed for everybody - which is why we try and keep the cost as low as possible. Pay What You Decide tickets are available.

The impact of digital is universal, our world, our lives, our behaviours are being shaped by it. It acts on us in ways that are obvious and some that are less so. It’s a tool that has unlimited potential but it’s mostly not being shaped by us, or often, for us and we all need to understand that.”

ACCA Digital discount bundles now available!

Gazelle Twin 2 Min
Max C 2

To kick off the new season we are pleased to share with you a special ticket offer for our Brighton Digital Festival music programme.

Join us for Max Cooper, Suzanne Ciani, Martin Messier, Gaika, Gazelle Twin and James Holden from 4 - 12 October with the following special deals:

  • 10% discount when you buy two tickets for two different shows
  • 15% discount when you buy three tickets for three different shows
  • 20% discount when you buy four tickets for four different shows
  • 25% discount when you buy five tickets for five different shows

Max Cooper and Architecture Social Club present Aether (Friday 5 – Saturday 6 October) a digital installation that plays on our relationship to the forms, sounds and colours all around us. London-based Max Cooper has carved out a unique position for himself as an artist, merging electronic music, visual art and science through installations, live audio-visual and immersive sound experiences. A live performance by Max within the work takes place on Thursday 4 October and his latest album will be released this summer to coincide with the ACCA events.

Five-time Grammy award nominated composer, electronic music pioneer, and neo-classical recording artist, Suzanne Ciani, is one of the most renowned female composers in the world. She comes from Los Angeles to ACCA to perform on Monday 8 October. Following two sold out shows at Café OTO last year (her first ever performances in London), ACCA has invited Suzanne back for her latest shows in the UK. Suzanne will be sharing a double bill with Martin Messier. The Canadian artist will perform FIELD, a mesmerising audio-visual work using the electromagnetic fields of our environment, from which noise and light compositions emerge.

A second explosive double bill comes from Gaika and Gazelle Twin(Thursday 11 October). Experimental yet catchy, Gaika’s work is uncompromising; intent on expanding and exploring the ideas of what contemporary Black British music is. Meanwhile, ACCA welcomes Gazelle Twinback to Brighton for what will be an electrifying performance of their new album, Pastoral. Expect a masquerade-like use of costume, toying with anonymity and bewitching audiences by masking the surface.

James Holden and the Animal Spirits bring the final gig of the Brighton Digital Festival season at ACCA on Friday October 12. Holden’s latest live set up includes his custom-made modular synthesizer system coupled with an unlikely supporting cast of brass, wind and live percussion. The expansive and transformative psychedelic journey of The Animal Spirits is certainly Holden’s most ambitious work to date – but also his most direct and accessible.

Tickets are subject to availability and at the discretion of the vendor. Tickets need to be booked in a single transaction. This offer runs until 7pm on Friday 12 October.

See you there!

The Marlborough Theatre on their Queer Heroes season

Nightclubbing Web
Audre Lorde Illustration Copy

This Autumn, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts have some stimulating partnerships with the Marlborough Pub & Theatre across their Queer Heroes season. We spoke to Programme Co-ordinator Ema Boswood on the collaboration and what’s planned for you to experience both here and at their own space.

Could you tell us more about the curatorial decisions behind these shows? What are you bringing and what are the highlights?

We’re so excited to be continuing our partnership with ACCA and are presenting a series of exciting new performance events as part of our Queer Heroes season, in which we are interested in championing work that celebrates and explores all the queer icons that have paved the way before us. As part of this season, we will be showcasing artist Rachael Young’s new show Nightclubbing (8 November), which is an ode to Grace Jones’ seminal 1981 album of the same name. This performance is a brilliant and explosive meeting of visceral live music and intergalactic visions, beginning a revolution that Grace Jones laid the foundations for.

We’re also thrilled to be returning to ACCA for another evening of Thinking Queer (7 November), following on from the brilliant success of last year’s. This event will be a vibrant night in ACCA’s beautiful cafe with a relaxed atmosphere, packed full of reflection, resistance, poetics and power to celebrate the work of trailblazing writer, thinker and activist Audre Lorde.

Why Audre Lorde for the second series of Thinking Queer? What can we expect this time?

Audre Lorde has long been an inspiration and an icon for us at The Marlborough, and her words are just as relevant today a climate of division, misogynistic presidents and with white supremacy on the rise. Throughout her work, Audre Lorde discusses the importance of speaking out against injustice, famously saying ”Your silence will not protect you”. As producers we understand that queer art is a political act and that we have a responsibility to showcase this important work. Audre Lorde is the perfect queer icon to reflect and amplify this message as she continues to unite and inspire us.

On the night there will be performers that we know and love presenting work influenced by Audre, as well as two new artists selected from a call out presenting performances that we have never seen before, which is exciting for us as we love to uncover new artists to support.

How do these projects link in with your Queer Heroes programme? Anything else our readers shouldn’t miss?

One thing that is absolutely unmissable is a new show from Lucy McCormick that’s been co-commissioned by us and ACCA and will be happening at the Marlborough on 9 November. If you’ve seen Lucy before, you’ll know why we’re so excited about it. Lucy’s work is outrageous, hilarious, important, messy and ingenious, packed full of pop culture references and unforgettable dance routines. This time we’re told to expect candy 4 all/party gamez/life skillz/dancin gurlz/absolute tunz and crying. We can’t wait.

Pay What You Decide tickets for the events at ACCA are available.

ACCA Conversations: Max Cooper

Max Cooper Portrait Web
Max C 1
Max C 2

We are pleased to present a series of digital music and installation works for Brighton Digital Festival. On October 4-6 Max Cooper will be here with Aether, a collaboration with Architecture Social Club. The large scale work installation plays on our relationships to sound, colour and form. A live show takes place within the work on October 4. Max told us a little bit about the piece and what audiences can expect to experience during a visit.

What were your inspirations that allowed for the creation of the kinetic installation of Aether?

The starting point from my side was wanting to find a new visual language to communicate with, and wanting to bring the visual element of my live shows away from a screen at the edge of a room and into the audience, so they could really interact with the visual experience close up. Live music is a visceral experience with the low frequencies in particular having a strong physical effect, so I wanted some of that, something beautiful and n-dimensional which the audience can almost touch. Architecture Social Club came up with this great design and we then set about building the content and live show.

Would you describe yourself as being a more visual or a more aural person? How do you think that sound and image intertwine in Aether?

I’m more of a visual thinker, I always see my music as structural entities, they have particular form and colour. That’s why I’ve always had a strong focus on working with visual artists for each release, and now why I build visual stories and aesthetic in parallel with my writing process, so everything is as tightly integrated as possible. With Aether, we have a very specific, and very unusual visual language, well suited to the sorts of sound design experiments I enjoy, and also well suited to tightly synced rhythm and glitch, and of course, perhaps most importantly, something extremely beautiful for those moments of musical peace which are so important in what I do.

Does the performance and the installation for Aether differ? Do they have a dialogue or can they stand by themselves?

Each are stand-alone presentations. The install version is more ambient and slowly evolving, more reflective, as it’s designed for solo-viewing, being an installation. Whereas for the live version we have a group dynamic, plus the required flexibility of my interaction with the audience which can be rendered visually. In practice this means more extreme changes for more extreme moments in live context, more variation in content, more rhythm and sync sections, more of a gig feel.

Who are the electronic music artists that you listen to today?

I’m not sure if it counts as electronic strictly, but I’ve been obsessing over Bing & Ruth’s last LP recently, plus Lusine’s last has been a regular, and Helios’ new release is the most exciting thing just arrived, I’m a big long time fan of Helios.

Why come to the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts to present your work? What are you looking forward to about this show and installation?

It’s a beautiful space and a pleasure to be working with people who are interested in trying new and exciting things musically, visually and artistically. I’m most looking forward to how we can adapt the system to the new space, and what doors that opens up creatively. The whole project is a big experiment, so every time we do it we discover and learn new things.

Call out for volunteers for Total Theatre Magazine project

Flying Lovers Web
Cock Bull 2
Alba 1

Total Theatre Magazine are putting together a small team of volunteers to work on the second phase of the creation of the Total Theatre Archive, a major project on which they are working with us, The Keep at the University of Sussex and Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance (London).

They have completed phase one and the full collection of 25 years of print magazines have been scanned and converted to PDFs.

In the next phase of the process there are two main tasks:

1.Extracting text from the PDFs using OCR (optical character recognition) programmes.

2.Data entry of the text onto the new Total Theatre Magazine archive website, which is being created and managed by MES. This involves using a Content Management System that is easy to master.

Volunteers can work on one or other or both of these tasks, depending on their skills. Volunteers will need access to a computer that they can use for the project. No specialist software is needed.

Total Theatre are now recruiting volunteers and student placements to work with them from September 2018 onwards, with the start dates and number of days of volunteer work to be agreed between Total Theatre Magazine and the volunteer. They are proposing volunteers will work one day a week for a five to six week period between September and December.

Contact editor Dorothy Max Prior by email to

Please send a brief CV and a short covering letter, in which you tell them about:

  • Skills and experiences you can offer the project
  • Skills and experiences you’d like to learn or develop volunteering on this project
  • How you feel this volunteer placement would help you in your personal development, studies or career

More about the Total Theatre Archive project:

Total Theatre Magazine has, for over 30 years, celebrated and supported theatre and performance in the UK – in particular, forms given little attention by mainstream media, libraries, or archives, such as: experimental theatre, physical and visual theatre, street theatre and outdoor arts, contemporary circus, puppetry and animation, performance art, hybrid performance, feminist and queer/LGBT theatre. The print magazine encompassed 100 issues over 25 years. Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Our Heritage fund this archive will be preserved for everyone to engage with, all content provided free to view. The new Total Theatre Archive website will be launched in 2019. The current site can be viewed at

Editor Dorothy Max Prior and Web Editor John Ellingsworth will be working with members of the magazine’s editorial team and volunteers to scan, upload and tag content, creating a fully searchable website that will be a valuable resource for scholars, journalists, artists, students, and anybody interested in Britain’s alternative theatre and performance history. Once the website is built, Total Theatre Magazine will be working with writers, editors and leading arts professionals to create new content that will reflect upon and interact with the archive.

ACCA Conversations: Clod Ensemble on Placebo

Placebo New Min2
Clod Feeling Better
Sound Affects

We spoke to Paul Clark and Suzy Wilson, Directors of Clod Ensemble, about their latest creation - Placebo. See it at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts on 15-17 October, following last year’s performances of Under Glass.

What were the reasons for naming the piece Placebo?

We have always been fascinated by the placebo effect in a medical sense; a doctor giving a patient a sugar pill rather than something with a known active ingredient. The root of the word ‘placebo’ is ‘to please’, and that provokes all sorts of interesting ideas for us. How we please each other, how we please ourselves, how we fail to do either of those things, and how our expectations and prejudices shape how we feel. The medical world has been using ‘fake’ pills and treatments for centuries, but there has only recently been serious scientific study of how the placebo response works, or serious consideration of the ethics around it. Is it OK to give someone a fake surgery, to lie to them effectively, if it makes them feel better? Why are, amazingly, red pills often more effective than blue pills in pain relief? Obviously, when making performance, we are constantly questioning how aesthetics affect our audience, so there feels like a real convergence of form and content here.

Is Placebo a performance that presents dance as therapy or as a means for escaping pain?

That’s interesting. For us the focus of the show is not about dance being inherently ’therapeutic’, however in some sense we use dance as a way of investigating what the placebo response is. The choreography addresses themes such as expectation, suggestion, pleasure, pain, agency, light, colour and attention. Of course, dance is especially associated with release and pleasure and the way we move certainly does have a powerful effect on the way we feel.

What can we expect of Placebo and what makes it a unique piece?

Although the piece features seven superb dancers, it is also influenced by theatre, visual art and fashion. Most of our work crosses the disciplines in some way, and we regularly perform in theatre, gallery, dance concert and public spaces. Placebo has an original score that plays with ideas of fake and real - using a huge palette of sound, from classical music to contemporary EDM. Costumes have been designed by pioneering fashion label ART SCHOOL, who are fascinated by the placebo effect in relation to fashion and branding - what is fake and what is real. The movement is not all abstract dance - we have explored the everyday movement languages of our pleasures and pains. The piece is not made solely for a dance audience but should speak to people interested in music, clothes, theatre and medicine.

How important is audience participation in this piece?

The audience are safe in their chairs – they will not find themselves on stage or be picked out - so there’s nothing to be scared about for anyone who gets anxious at the thought of audience participation! But the show does consciously draw the audience’s attention to how they feel and how they are interpreting what they are witnessing. Is the show having a placebo effect on its audience?

Are you looking forward to coming back to ACCA and working in the campus context?

Yes. We love bringing our work to ACCA - we were last here with Under Glasslast Autumn. We relish the creative spirit that comes with working closely with a university and, especially with this piece, how it offers us the chance to reach audiences who might not have seen our work before. The ACCA programme this Autumn is overflowing with brilliant performance – we’re excited to be part of it.

What can people also engage with around the performances?

The topic of the placebo effect raises so many interesting questions from social, medical, philosophical and artistic perspectives. We will be unlocking the potential of the placebo effect through a series of talks, workshops and events which will delve deeper into many of the questions that the topic of ‘placebo’ inspires. This includes a panel discussion which brings together patients, health professionals & artists to consider how beliefs, expectations and relationships can impact a treatment’s impact, as well as workshop led by John Drever exploring the effect that sound and music can have on our mood.

For more information on this particular show and to book your tickets visit here

There is a pre-show talk with the artists on 16 October which is free for ticket holders and takes place at 7pm.

Feeling Better - a panel discussion - has also been organised by Clod Ensemble as part of their time with us and takes place on 15 October. Join us for a conversation with patients, health professionals and artists to consider how beliefs, expectations and relationships can have a radical impact on a treatment’s effectiveness.

Can you remember ever dance you’ve ever danced?

Quarantine Web

We caught up with Manchester-based performance company Quarantine to learn more about Wallflower, which comes to Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from November 23-24. Their Artistic Director Richard Gregory tells us more about how Wallflower works and how you can get involved in this UK-wide dance project.

How does Wallflower work?

The performers are responding live in performance to a task that was set for them at the beginning of rehearsals – to try to remember every dance they’ve ever danced. They have a very broad definition for what counts as dancing – from remembered performances to social dancing to embodied memories of everyday movement.

Their spontaneous memories – the majority of the duration of the work - are framed by material that we know in advance will happen – for example, each performer will at some point occupy the space for an extended solo and there is a repeated group dance that happens 4 times. This framing offers us a structure to work within and against.

In what ways do you think that dance can resurface memories?

As witnesses to dancing, whether as audience or as a performer watching another performer, we’re reminded of our own experience of course, but there are other things that occur – an instinct to respond or reply with a dance of our own, and - if and when we start dancing - some kind of ‘memory’ in the limbs, the body, that lets us know that what we’re doing has happened before… There can be both frustration and delight in trying to rediscover what the body has already done. And they talk as well. Sometimes the performers only describe their dances. Sometimes they only dance them. They can take themselves by surprise with the narratives that unfold but this process is balanced with a complex awareness of what they’re constructing as the piece uniquely takes shape with each show.

What kind of portraits can be painted through dance? Are they the most genuine portraits of who we really are?

There’s always a huge generosity in the performer who invites us simply to look, to gaze at another human. Dancing is an active, hugely complex and varied performance form to do this through. And, of course, so familiar. We’ve all experienced dancing, one way or another.

I don’t think they’re necessarily the most “genuine” portraits, no. I’m not sure that such a thing exists. They’re portraits of these people dancing, in a particular room in front of a particular group of people at a particular moment in time. What they think they’re showing and what you think you’re looking at might, of course, be quite different things. We don’t know what you might bring to the way you witness the work. That’s part of the joy of doing it.

Why are you looking forward to bringing Wallflower to ACCA?

I’m looking forward to being back in Brighton for the first time for a few years. Some of the performers have a strong relationship with Brighton – that’s always an interesting thing, because memories may resurface that are located in the town.

Who will the dancers be in Brighton? What are their remembered dances? How do you hope people in Brighton will respond?

The dancers in Brighton will be Jo Fong, Nic Green, Charlie Morrissey and Karl Jay-Lewin.

I don’t know what their remembered dances will be yet – they’ll emerge during the performance. Collectively the performers have already remembered over 2000 dances and all of them are recorded in a printed archive, part of which will be exhibited alongside the performance.

I hope that people will get in involved in advance of the performance by sharing some of their own remembered dances. I hope that people will come along to the performance and see a work that offers them space and provocation to find something of their own in it.

In the run up to the performance we will be inviting local people and groups from Brighton to share their own remembered dances with us. We will upload them at alongside dances that we have collected in other locations over the duration of this tour – creating a sort of online map of remembered dances across the UK.

If you have a dance that you’d like to share with us, then email for more information and to sign up for a slot. Slots are not guaranteed.

We’d love to hear about lots of different kinds of relationships to dancing… Your first dance. Your last dance. A dance you only do in private. A dance at a festival, or a party, or a funeral, or on a bus, or in your kitchen while you wait for the kettle to boil. A dance you do with your dog. A ritual that you do every day that has started to feel like a choreographed dance. It doesn’t have to be a formal routine – just something that feels like dancing to you.

For more information on this particular show visit here

ACCA Conversations: Empathy Museum, creators of A Mile in My Shoes.

Empathy Museum

Kicking off our Autumn season and happening during the University of Sussex’s Welcome Week is A Mile in My Shoes - a collection of audio stories will explore how empathy can transform our personal relationships to tackle global challenges such as prejudice, conflict and inequality. We speak to Clare Patey, curator of this emotive project to learn more. Come and join us 14-23 September at the Empathy Museum - admission is free and stories last 15 minutes.

With the saturation of visual empathy in photographs and clips of human suffering in the media, do you think that having only audio stories of people can be more effective for recapturing human empathy?

I think that the power of A Mile in My Shoes comes from the combination of: intimate one to one listening, walking alone immersed in storytelling, and embodying a stranger by being literally in their shoes. It is the mix of the physical and empathetic journey that I think is effective.

How many audio stories are collected for A Mile in My Shoes? Were there any specific reasons for choosing these individuals?

A Mile in My Shoes tours both in the UK and internationally. We collect new stories and shoes from each place that we exhibit so that there is a representation of the local community within the walls of the museum. We try and collect as diverse a set of voices as possible and now have a collection of over 250 stories from all over the world. We have also done two themed exhibitions: one with stories from across the NHS and Social Care and one with stories of Migration.

In an advancing technological world where we are incessantly invaded by multiple voices, do you think that fully listening to a single human story produces a stronger empathy?

Although we think we listen to ‘multiple voices’, we tend to surround ourselves with people very similar to us! Online, at work and in our social lives our circles are very small and our assumptions and values are very rarely truly challenged. Taking the time to spend an intimate 15 minutes listening to a stranger’s story, perhaps a person you might not come across in your daily life opens you up to connect or be challenged in a unique way and has the potential to be a transformative personal and empathetic experience.

Do these human stories create a dialogue between them or are they discrete from each other?

Our collection of stories are individual first person narratives. Although the stories are from different parts of the world and include a florist from London, a sex worker from Australia and a dentist from Syria - all the stories explore common human experiences like: love, loss, grief and joy. It is in the listening and the connection with the stories that the dialogue begins as audience members return to the shoebox after their walk and share their thoughts, reactions, feelings and often their own stories.

For more information on this particular show visit here

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