Show Calendar

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

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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.

Join us for the UK’s first ever interactive feature film this Autumn

Bloodyminded Promo Image July 2018 Min

For one night only, on October 14, the UK’s first ever interactive feature film will be broadcast live online and at cinemas around the UK, as part of the final season of 14-18 NOW: Centenary Art Commissions, including at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

Created by four-times BAFTA nominated art company Blast Theory and co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s art  programme for the First World War centenary  and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Bloodyminded will take audiences on a moving and disturbing interactive journey that asks us to make our own decisions about the morality of war.

Shot live from an army base, Bloodyminded brings together a production team featuring some of the finest independent film industry talent working in the UK today, including:

  • Executive Producer Anna Higgs has worked on Nick Cave biopic 20,000 Days on Earth and British Director Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise and A Field in England.
  • Cinematographer Ruben Woodin Dechamps has shot music videos for Radiohead and Bonobo.
  • Award-winning agent Shaheen Baig will cast the film. Shaheen’s CV includes casting films A Monster Calls and God’s Own Country as well as the BAFTA-winning television series Peaky Blinders.

Bloodyminded has been inspired by research into WW1 conscientious objectors carried out at the Imperial War Museum, and interviews with British Army veterans who generously shared their experiences of training, frontline combat, banter, bullying, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mixing fact and fiction, Bloodyminded invites audiences to interact via an app, responding to questions directed to them by a narrator who asks us to consider our own relationship with violence – as individuals and as members of a society that continues to wage war on our behalf.

Matt Adams of Blast Theory says: “We’ve always invited audiences to explore social and political questions – from the covert data collection techniques carried out by companies like Facebook; to the ethics of undercover surveillance by the police. Now we’re exploring war, starting with one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. More than 16,000 men refused to enlist in World War One, claiming status as conscientious objectors and, in many cases, paying a heavy price for their decision. 73 men died. Although they were accused of cowardice, many conscientious objectors displayed incredible bravery and earned the respect of fighting men. In Bloodyminded, we want viewers to share their own experiences of violence and bravery.”

Laura McDermott, Creative Director, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, added: “Blast Theory are serial innovators who always find a unique form for their ideas. We are proud to be co-commissioners of Bloodyminded, their latest project with 14-18 NOW. True to the spirit of our programme, this live interactive film will provide a space for critical reflection on conflict and resistance.”

Buy tickets for Bloodyminded here

ACCA Conversations: Ricardo Reveron Blanco, Communications Assistant at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

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Our Communications Assistant, Ricardo Reveron Blanco, has blogged about his experience of being part of our team. He worked at ACCA during his time as an English Literature & French final year student at the University of Sussex:

Starting my contract with the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in October 2018 has been the most fortunate experience I could have ever asked for as an undergraduate student. Copyrighting, artists liaison, interviewing and transcribing content, promoting events across social media and even being a runner for a filming production… are just some of the things I have been working on during my time in the team.

Working whilst studying has been a very personally beneficial asset where I have quickly learnt to time manage, prioritise and organise everything I do from here forth. It has also opened many other doors for me, like securing my position at another arts organisation where I also work part time. Working for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts has enriched my student life and bridged the gap between being a student and becoming a full-fledged professional. I cannot thank enough the rest of the team for the mass of information I have been able to learn in such a short amount of time and now I am galvanized to confidently present myself professionally and obtain prospective careers this Autumn.

Apart from the utilitarian benefits of working for this thought-provoking contemporary arts venue, I have enjoyed promoting work that I personally have connections with. Sharing the pertinent social issues raised at Thinking Queer: Bloomsbury Group, spreading the aesthetically pleasing work of Jo Bannon’s Alba or outreaching audiences to see the political and cathartic performance of Lola Arias’ Minefield, I feel grateful that I have been part of, even in the slightest, for these artistic creations”

Meet the architects

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RHP Partnership Architects are the architects behind the multi-million pound refurbishment of our Grade II* listed building. We caught up with project architect Dave Sweeney to find out more about how RHP transformed the building and how to breath new life into an iconic structure.

What was your design philosophy when working on the plans for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts? What were the steps in the design process of the building and what inspired to make the choices you made to form this building?

At the time of our commission, the Gardner Arts Centre, as it was known previously, had lain unused and closed for several years. Our task was to work with the University of Sussex to re-establish it as a self-sustaining centre of excellence for academic research, conference use and public performance.

The modern day requirements of this multi-faceted brief had then to be reconciled with an existing, Grade II* listed, iconic 20th century building. Here, we needed to create a functional, useable space – a space that would be flexible, experimental and innovative, whilst also being practical and functional – all within a limited budget.

We tend to take a more holistic approach to design in our practice; each project we work on creates a bespoke and unique building, and so it’s very important to talk with those people who will ultimately be using the space. From this research, we can then ascertain how our design can best support these uses.

So, we carried out careful and informed design research, which included a number of thorough assessments of the existing building (designed by Sir Basil Spence in the 1960s), and consultations with both English Heritage and the conservation team at Brighton & Hove City Council. It was essential for any design to by sympathetic to the existing building’s fabric, character and use.

Wherever we could, we kept to the existing shape and configuration of the building, using spaces within its structure to run the newly servicing equipment and identified the only location in the whole building where a glass lift, providing disability access to all levels, could be installed. Perhaps the most dramatic intervention was in the main auditorium where, in a bid to both respect the original drum form yet provide a suitable acoustic environment, a new system of angular, timber baffles was installed, visually lifting the whole theatrical experience.

How would you describe our building in a way that would set it apart from other creative arts centres?

The revitalised centre is the beating heart of the practice-based arts, both on the University campus in providing for research and conferencing, and reaching to the wider, non-academic community catering for top tier contemporary public performance.

The main auditorium is capable of hosting flat floor events, promenade performances, interactive installations and experimental music. Acoustically and technically, the building is now able to accommodate professional productions. Outside the main drum of the auditorium, the three separate towers provide for teaching and learning rooms whilst the original Spence-designed public spaces now offer a café-bar and an exhibition space.

Unique to Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts is this fusion of contemporary academic learning and research and public performance, all set within an iconic building of great architectural importance.

What was the reasoning(s) behind all the circular structures?

The original reason for the circular structures was entirely aesthetic – Sir Basil Spence’s vision for the campus was a collection of buildings which connected to land and each other.

The initial idea for the circular structures came from an earlier design for the University’s Meeting House, which consisted of varied masonry cylinders. Due to budgetary reasons, this idea was never built – a simpler version of it being realised instead - and so that design was adapted for this building.

Spence wanted the building to act as a ‘corner piece’, where the campus would meet the landscape of the South Downs – appearing to be anchored directly in the natural landscape. This drew upon similar inspirations to the rest of the campus, notably the aspiration to always see through the buildings to the existing mature and tree lined landscape beyond. Hence, the vaulted gaps within Falmer House. Other visual influences could have been drawn from the late period Le Corbusier (the Maisons Jaoul, the Millowners’ Building in Ahmedabad with its unfurling curved auditorium) and Louis Kahn’s early 1960’s work with brick, concrete and pure geometries (notably the Indian Institute of Management, also in Ahmedabad).

Our task was to work with this set of forms, and discover ways in which to make them suitable for performance, thereby breathing life into a facility now suited to the needs of the 21st century.

What are the main differences between the original design by Sir Basil Spence to the now renovated building?

Sir Basil Spence’s vision was of a functional, unique, arts teaching theatre set within the context of mid 20thCentury progressive performance. However, as time past, the building was repeatedly failing to meet the requirements of a contemporary theatre. Sadly, this was largely due to its unique design causing practical constraints for many travelling theatre companies.

Our new design addresses these shortcomings– and allows for a flexible auditorium that is supplied with modern services; a new properly sized control room; revised access arrangements to permit adequate stage and equipment movements; and that is supported by high end theatre tech, all facilitating innovative teaching and learning practices.

We were also designing with greater energy efficiency in mind – something that may not have been at the forefront of an architect’s mind in the 1960’s. New windows were commissioned and additional roof insulation was installed to boost thermal performance.

Accessibility was also fundamentally improved throughout the building with the installation of a new passenger lift and a back-of-house disabled platform lift.

Whilst the peripheral spaces to the main auditorium were re-purposed, the external building was carefully repaired, and any modern additions were always considered with the original Spence design in mind – after all, it’s unusual circular shape is what makes the centre so different and unique

Have you been back to ACCA since the building’s completion and what have you enjoyed seeing here?

We attended the opening public event of ACCA in the Brighton Festival in 2016 – a one man performance of Complicite’s The Encounter by Simon McBurney – 2 years before it hit The Barbican in London. The performance was utterly breath-taking, with the audience using headphones to witness McBurney’s powerful use of the spoken, recorded and projected voice, adding to the sense of being cocooned deep within the Amazon jungle of which he spoke, and deep within the timber lined womb of ACCA.

We’ve held a number of guided tours since the ACCA project completed too, all who we’ve taken round have uttered an audible gasp on entering the new auditorium and most are fascinated to hear of the building’s transformation.

We also held RHP’s 40th anniversary celebrations at ACCA and were honoured to have Michael Attenborough present who delivered an excellent summary of the project.

The team at ACCA are devoted and very hardworking, and it’s thanks to them that the building is now a success. It’s extremely rewarding to see one of Brighton’s best loved theatres once again being used and enjoyed as it was originally intended and it is very gratifying to think that we’ve had a hand in bringing it back to life.

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