Show Calendar

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 what audiences can see on our stage.

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, 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.

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

Creative Director Laura McDermott on our Autumn season

Empathy Museum
Gazelle Twin 2 Min
Bloodyminded Promo Image July 2018 Min
Nightclubbing Web
Reggae Web
James Holden Web

Ahead of our 2018 Autumn season, we caught up with Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts’ Creative Director, Laura McDermott, to discuss what to expect from the new season and the curatorial decisions behind another exciting line up of performances, gigs, installations and screenings on campus.

What should we expect from the 2018 Autumn Season?

We’re working with some of our favourite local partners once again. For example, during Brighton Digital Festival (September – October) we are hosting a curated series of electronic music and audio-visual installation and for CINE-CITY (Brighton’s Film Festival) we will show a range of film screenings that focus on music and film (including some fantastic live-score projects).

The performances and installations for Brighton Digital Festival have been curated by our Associate Music Programmer, Laura Ducceschi. I am particularly looking forward to Aether by Max Cooper and Architecture Social Club, a kinetic installation – “a three dimensional light field experience” - inspired by forms and patterns in nature. It will be incredible.

Another highlight in Brighton Digital Festival is the double bill of Gazelle Twin and Gaika , who have both recently released albums. Gaika has worked a lot in Brighton and he was in Brighton Festival this year as part of a Lighthouse commission. Gazelle Twin used to live in Brighton and Elizabeth studied music at University of Sussex, we’re proud to be part of this first tour of the new album.

For CINE-CITY we are hosting two live-score projects. Firstly, Asian Dub Foundation’s seminal re-score of La Haine, a 90’s film set in the Parisian suburbs in the aftermath of a riot, reflecting on the racial tensions in France at that time. We’re thrilled to be bringing this project back – it has been shown previously to wide acclaim, including at David Bowie’s edition of Meltdown in London. The second is the UK premiere of a project by Icelandic band amiina (who used to be the string quartet for Sigur Ros). They have composed a live score for the silent film Fantômas . The music is released as an album so it’s also able to stand on its own, independent of any visual narrative, but combined with the film it will be spectacular.

Also – I can’t wait to see Scottee’s Fat Blokes . This brand new performance is a “sort of dance show” and “a fat rebellion” created by Scottee and four male collaborators. Follow Scottee on Instagram to get a sense of his sharp, political wit – he gives the best Insta stories!

What were your main objectives when programming this new Autumn season?

As a multi-disciplinary venue, we always seek a balance between artforms: music gigs, dance, performance, installation and film. We’re always looking for work that speaks in different ways to the topics of human rights and social justice.

We also look for connections to University of Sussex and the fantastic teaching and research that take place here. Often we collaborate with academics to organise public events, such as 50 Years of Reggae: a programme of film, discussion and music curated by Professor Martin Evans and supported by the Resistance Studies Network and the Centre for Photography and Visual Cultures at University of Sussex.

As well as programming finished shows, we also support artists to develop new work. Two performances this season have been partially developed here at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Both are by artists who live in Brighton:

Firstly, on 25 and 26 October, there are two preview performances of Sue MacLaine’s new work Vessel. Inspired by the religious tradition of the anchorite who withdraws from society, this piece looks at silence, voice, language and who has the right to speak. Sue is a BSL interpreter as well as a theatre maker. This work incorporates captioning within the artistic mis-en-scene, making the accessibility (particularly for D/deaf audience members) integral to the piece.

On 1 and 2 November, we are thrilled to host Marisa Carnesky for two performances of Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman. Marisa has been in residence with us this summer, re-working this piece for larger-scale spaces. The project busts open the taboos surrounding menstruation and draws in mythology, science, politics and personal experience. This genre-bending performance combines a lecture style format with stage magic and turns from artists and cabaret performers Fancy Chance, Rhyannon Styles, MisSa Blue, H Plewis and Nao Nagai.

In light of what has worked before, have you stuck with things that have seemed to work for us in the past or have you taken more experimental risks when programming the season?

As with most things, I think balance is essential - but personally, I see taking risks as a very important thing in art. Art can be a safe space for risk. Art can push things further, provide provocation and help you discover the edges of your opinions and prejudice. Our Autumn 2018 season includes many different voices and perspectives. That diversity of voices is very important to me.

Does the current political climate have an impact on how you have curated the programme and what audiences will see this season?

Yes, the programme is always political but it is not always directly engaging with “capital P politics” of Westminster.

For example, in the current climate of rising racism and xenophobia – it is political to host The Empathy Museum: A Mile in My Shoes, a project that asks you directly to see the world through someone else’s eyes for fifteen minutes. Rachael Young’s Nightclubbing , reflects on the story of three women who were turned away from a club in London, which sparked allegations of a racist door policy). She takes this event and blends it into an Afrofuturist vision for the future inspired by her love of Grace Jones.

In the current environment of global political instability, and during the last year 14-18 NOW (a programme of events looking back at World War 1) we are proud to be co-commissioners of Bloodyminded by Blast Theory, which looks at the history of conscientious objection in war and connects it to our present moment. This project is the UK’s first live interactive feature film, and it will ask searching questions about conflict and resistance. Audiences will be asked to consider the ethics behind what it means to engage in combat, or to refuse to fight.

For more information on our Autumn Season click here

Artist call out: Thinking Queer

Audre Lorde Illustration Copy

The Marlborough Theatre and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts are delighted to announce 2 new commissions for BAME LGBTQ+ artists to create a new 15 minute performance inspired by Audre Lorde!

Following on from 2017’s successful Thinking Queer: Bloomsbury Group, we are excited to present another night of reflection, resistance, poetics and power, this time to celebrate the work of trailblazing writer, thinker and activist Audre Lorde.

We are looking for 2 artists to present work as part of this event at ACCA on Wed 7 November 2018. Each selected artist wll receive a fee of £750 to create and present their performance.

We welcome applications for performances with a strong throughline relating to Audre Lorde, her work or politic.

This opportunity is specifically for BAME LGBTQ+ artists working in theatre, digital art, spoken word, live art and/or interdisciplinary performance.

This opportunity is open to artists of all diverse backgrounds, including foreign nationals. If you would prefer to apply in a different format or would like us to make reasonable adjustments to submit your application, please contact us. Collectives are welcome to apply, however the commission amount will be £750 for the entire group, not per person.

How to apply:

1. Send us a e-mail with a 200-word (max) OR a 3-min video description of your idea. Please include a portfolio OR CV to go with your application. Send your email to

Deadline for applications: 14th September 2018. All applicants will be contacted with final decisions.

If you have any enquiries, please email us on

This opportunity is part of Marlborough Theatre’s Queer Heroes season of performance and is supported by Arts Council England.

Artist in Residence: Marisa Carnesky

Marisa Carknesky Web

This summer we are thrilled to be hosting Marisa Carnesky as an Artist in Residence.

Marisa Carnesky is an artist, show-woman and practitioner-researcher whose past work includes Jewess Tattooess, a solo performance exploring cultural identity and the body and Carnesky’s Ghost Train (2004-2014), a large scale arthouse touring ghost train ride that became resident on Blackpool’s Golden mile for five years. The company are interested in combining spectacular forms from magic to fairground with political and personal stories. Creating highly accessible provocative shows, the work is rooted in subverting popular culture to promote new cultural and political discourses

Marisa and her team are here creating Dr Carnesky’s The Incredible Bleeding Woman, which is also co-commissioned by Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Putting the magic back into menstruation, the piece reinvents menstrual rituals for a new era, drawing on the hidden power of a forgotten matriarchal past. Delivered with tongue in cheek reverence, this newly evolved version of the show embodies a live art/cabaret crossover – mutating between a bizarre anthropology lecture to a magic stage show, to a feminist, activist ritual featuring an extraordinary cast. You can see the The Incredible Bleeding Woman on our stage on 1 & 2 November as part of our Autumn programme.

Brighton premiere of The Faces We Lost at ACCA

A documentary about how Rwandans use personal and family photographs to remember and commemorate the loved ones they lost in the 1994 genocide will screen in our venue on 4 September.

The Rwandan genocide claimed almost a million lives in just 100 days. The world stood by as men, women and children were being hacked to death by machetes. When the international community finally decided it was time to pay attention, it did so through memorable photographs of mutilated bodies and seas of nameless refugees. But many Rwandans remember their loved ones through images of life, not death: a passport or I.D. card photo, an unguarded snap taken in the garden or a group portrait from a wedding or a baptism.

The Faces We Lost follows nine Rwandans (survivors, relatives of victims and professional memory-makers), who guide us through their stories and share their experiences, remembrance and images. It is the first documentary to explore the many functions of these priceless photographs, and one of the few films to engage with Rwandans as users of images, rather than simply their subjects.

The Faces We Lost screened widely on the international film festival circuit, but this is its Brighton premiere.

Followed by a Q&A with the director Piotr Cieplak and Claver Irakoze – one of the people from the film.

Tickets are free and can be found here

Meet our 2018 Summer artists in residence: Bryony Kimmings

Hair Down Blue Jumper No Necklace

We are delighted to be hosting artists in residence in our building again this summer. As well as our public programme we regularly host artists during our summer months to think, create and rehearse.

One of our residents this summer is Bryony Kimmings.

Inspired by the taboos and anomalies of western culture, Bryony Kimming’s autobiographical works promote the airing of her own dirty laundry to oil public conversations on seemingly difficult subjects. Her award-winning work has been seen in theatres globally, in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. Kimmings’ work exists cross- platform, as music, documentaries, websites, PR campaigns & viral movements, but always ends in performance. Her most recent works have focused on socio-political injustice.

Bryony and her team are in residence working on I’m a Phoenix, Bitch, which is her first solo work in nearly a decade. The work, an ACCA co-commission, will premiere at Battersea Arts Centre in October 2019 and then head to Arts Centre Melbourne in early 2019 before touring further. I’m a Phoenix, Bitch combines personal stories with epic film,soundscapes and ethereal music creatinga powerful and joyful work about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength.

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