Show Calendar

Experiencing Brighton Festival: Laura McDermott

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In preparation with the much-awaited Brighton Festival 2018, we catch up with Laura McDermott, Creative Director at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, to learn about how she experiences Brighton Festival, giving us a range of personal standouts for this year’s festival:

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

May is a busy month! I usually see something every single day. I’m not a typical audience member, though, as seeing lots of art is part of my job.  I love the energy in the city during festival time, and all the chance encounters with friends, colleagues and artists from all over the world. As soon as the festival programme launches I start planning - carrying the brochure everywhere and marking pages.  Then it’s a question of making a schedule - fitting it all together in space and time… 

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2018 programme and why?

1) The Last Poets

What an incredible, rare chance to see these legendary spoken word artists - whose work (emerging from Harlem in 1968, as part of the Civil Rights Movement) laid the foundations for the emergence of hip-hop.

2) Brownton Abbey (with Big Freedia)

I’ve seen Big Freedia perform before and it was one of the best gigs of my entire life - a frenzy of dancing and twerking.  Under the skilful curatorial guidance from Tarek at The Marlborough, this event will bring politics to the dancefloor, in a joyful, Afro-futurist rave. 

3) Gob Squad - Creation (Picture for Dorian)

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts has co-commissioned this work with Brighton Festival, LIFT and international partners.  Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray it’s going to involve six local performers and Gob Squad, considering ageing, beauty and what drives our desire to be looked at.  Gob Squad are one of my favourite companies - they are sharp, political, playful and irreverent - don’t miss this UK Premiere!”

For the Brighton Festival programme see

Get to Know Gob Squad

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Ahead of their appearance at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts and as part of Brighton Festival 2018, we catch up with Gob Squad to historicise the company’s journey and what we should expect from them given their fantastic track record:

“A few highlights from the last 25 years that we wanted to share with you ahead of Gob Squad’s return to Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts this May, for Brighton Festival.”

Early 1990s  A bunch of long-haired students from Nottingham make open-air performances in order to get into Glastonbury for free. They call themselves Gob Squad

1994-6  Site projects: HOUSE, WORK and AN EFFORTLESS TRANSACTION at Now Festival Nottingham


1997  15 MINUTES TO COMPLY commissioned by Documenta X, Kassel


1998   WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? comissioned by the first Berlin Biennale

2000   US tour of SAFE


2003   SUPER NIGHT SHOT premieres in Berlin, the start of a 13 year collaboration with Volksbühne


2006   SUPER NIGHT SHOT tours Brazil with a company of locally trained performers


2008   SAVING THE WORLD wins Goethe Institut prize at Impulse Festival


2011  BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES is selected for Germany’s prestigious Theater Treffen festival


2012  GOB SQUAD’S KITCHEN three week run at The Public TheatreNew York, winning Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience

2014  20th birthday festival at HAU Hebbel am Ufer celebrating the art of collectives


2015  BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES remake and four week run at The Public TheatreNew York


2015  MY SQUARE LADY robot vs. opera extravaganza at Komische Oper Berlin


2016  Perform WAR AND PEACE at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts


2017  Touring of various projects to China, USA, Russia and within Europe


2018  Performing CREATION (PICTURES OF DORIANat Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts 

To book tickets for Creation (Pictures of Dorian) check our event page here or at the Brighton Festival 2018 website.

ACCA Conversations: Candoco Dance Company

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1 Candoco Dance Company Face In By Yasmeen Godder Photography By Hugo Glendinning 2017

Candoco Dance Company come to Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts this April to present a double bill - Face in/ Let’s Talk about Dis - as part of South East Dance’s city-wide undisciplined festival. 

Learn more about the company in our interview with their Communications Manager, Lucy Fox, and Co-Artistic Director Ben Wright. 

What is your starting point for developing a double bill like Face In and Let’s Talk About Dis. Do you begin with a particular theme or topic in mind? How do you choose what to put together?    

 We tend to have three or four full company pieces in our repertoire at any one time and usually present two of these as a double bill. How we select which pieces we will present together varies. We like to show work that demonstrates the many facets of the company and will stimulate our audience in different ways, this is something that is particularly evident in the Face In and Let’s Talk About Disdouble bill. Sometimes a venue will request two pieces specifically as they feel they will work better for their audience or technically those pieces are right for their space. We don’t tend to theme the double bills as the works are made independently by different choreographers with their own intentions. Unless there was a very obvious topic that both were exploring by chance, we wouldn’t want to force a theme upon the work, audiences may draw their own themes from the evening however. 

 In what way(s) do Face In and Let’s Talk About Dis differ visually and choreographically from other Candoco works? 

Face Inand Let’s Talk About Diswere created by radically different artists, inevitably this results in wildly opposing visions. The two complement one another beautifully and are a bit of a dream pairing from our perspective. We are interested in working with choreographers who are genuinely curious and influenced by the artists who they are working with. We consider our dancers to be artistic collaborators and both Yasmeen and Hetain were masterful in the ways they engaged with our ensemble, generously encouraging them to take and own space and drawing out the many nuances of their personalities. As a pair they make a welcome addition to Candoco’s repertoire – both shake up assumptions and expectations, one leaning towards the domain of language and the other to more unconscious physical utterances.  

 Your work is programmed across the world and in a variety of contexts and spaces, so what brings you to Brighton and, more specifically Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts? 

 Regional touring in the UK is very important to us and we relish the opportunity to present our work to audiences all over the country. We have strong links with Brighton, a number of Candoco Artists and Ben (Artistic co-Director) live in Brighton and are, of course, huge advocates of their hometown and we have performed in Brighton many times over the years. This summer in Brighton we will be presenting Dedicated to… our new duet performed by two of our Brighton based Artists, Welly O’Brien and Victoria Fox, as well as the full company double bill at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in April. The double bill is part of South East Dance’s Undisciplined festival, a fantastic programme of works that will certainly stimulate and engage Brighton’s contingent of bright and committed dance enthusiasts.  

With the dance world constantly evolving, how do you plan to continue adapting and evolving as a company? In other words, what’s next for Candoco?

For now, our Artistic co-Directors are only 3 months into post and have inherited various commissions and conversations from their predecessors Stine Nilsen and Pedro Machado, so presently there is a lot of midwifery at play. The company are finalising arrangements for the creation of a new work by Theo Clinkard which will premiere in 2019 and Charlotte and Ben are pursuing a range of elements that make up their vision for the future of the company.  These include securing more opportunities to commission work, with a particular interest in smaller scale practice to complement the company’s more mainstream, large scale repertoire; to look at succession planning to secure opportunities for the identification and support of disabled individuals who could be interested in taking a leadership roles at Candoco; planning for an ambitious 30th year anniversary celebration that draws together a range of artists and individuals committed to inclusive practice which would culminate with a extended cast production at Sadler’s Wells in autumn 2022, and entertaining some blue sky thinking about what a future home for the company might look like. 

 Continuing to celebrate and value the compelling and disruptive power of difference is at the heart of the company’s future, a future in which we continue to question what dance can be and who gets to do it.

See Candoco Dance Company here on Wednesday 18 April.  Tickets available here

Interview by Louise Kinsella-Brown, currently on placement at ACCA from the University of Sussex. 

Our picks for Brighton Festival 2018: Ed Hughes

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Ahead of Brighton Festival 2018, which is rapidly approaching in May, University of Sussex Professor of Composition in Music & Head of Music, Ed Hughes, gives us his top picks for experiencing this year’s city-wide event. Ed Hughes is also the composer for Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism 2.0 which takes place in our venue on May 5 as part of our own festival programme. 

There are some wonderful musical highlights including Britten’s War Requiem on 12 May at 7.30pm. The soloists are really special: Ian Bostridge - Tenor, Gerald Finley - Baritone, Claire Booth - Soprano. The piece is a strange but brilliant conception and on the centenary of the end of WW1 is ‘an eloquent tribute to the fallen of the Great War’ and a very moving experience. 

The chamber music lunchtime concerts are frequently wonderful gems. This year including Van Kuijk Quartet, Magnard Ensemble, Les Kapsbergirls, Alexander Panfilov, Jerwood Young Artists, Lucy Humphris and Harry Rylance, Alexander Ullman, Chineke! Junior Quartet and Argenta Trio.

May in Brighton is a chance to try new artforms, mixed media, live and experimental theatre - definitely worth exploring things you wouldn’t normally get to. There are participatory events led by director David Shrigley, a trance-noise odyssey of Attractor, the Dutch immersive happening Blaas and hundreds of other extraordinary events.

Both the Brighton Festival and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts websites carries full details, helpful videos, interviews and opportunities to get involved in opportunities across the month of May. 

The annual children’s parade opens the Festival on 5 May and is always spectacular - this year the theme is ‘Paintings’, inspired of course by Guest Director David Shrigley.” 

Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and The Orchestra of Sound and Light,  Cuckmere: A Portrait & Environmentalism 2.0 project is one that explores wildlife through evocative landscapes and aural moods. Tracing the Cuckmere River from its source in the High Weald to the sea at Cuckmere Have, the environment is made a focal point through music and film.For our full month long Brighton Festival programme see here

Stay posted to our blog for more insights into the May festivals that take place across Brighton from our friends and partners! 

ACCA Conversations: Mark Murphy, artist, designer and creative

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Continuing from our interviews with various members of Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts team, we speak to Mark Murphy, an internationally acclaimed collage artist. Mark is also our graphic designer who works with our team to realise our brand and art direction in our print materials you see around the city and beyond.

We spent some time talking to Mark about the work he has created for Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land,  as well as own practice.  

You recently designed the Chris Watson material, what were your main inspirations for creating that piece?

In summer of 2017 I experienced Chris’s sound installation in a quarry in Torbay, as part of The Tale by Situations and Philip Hoare. It was amazing to hear sounds of the deep resonating around a huge quarry by the sea. It was massive juxtaposition, taking sounds that weren’t from that space and putting them into a vastly different context. My visual collage approach often explores juxtaposition too… I’ve worked as a designer for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts since 2015. In conversations with the team about the material for No Man’s Land, we decided upon a different approach from previous materials and something special that would stand out for this particular project in a new and different way. The collage of visual references worked well to convey the audio collage of Chris’s piece. The limited colours helped to unify the various elements, allowing a range of images to combine without everything feeling too busy.

Seeing a lot of your collage work we see many faceless subjects, are there any reasons or inspirations for this?

Many collage artists leave out, obstruct or replace faces. I think that a faceless figure, has the power to no longer represent the person in the original image, it becomes more about people generally than a person specifically. When I have exhibited original works, these pieces are well received. Viewers can more easily relate to an idea or composition and relate it to themselves when not looking at someone else’s face I think.

You say humour is a big part of your work, why is that? Do you think humour in collages (or art more broadly) is important?

I don’t think it’s essential by any means. I can think of many many powerful works that are completely unhumorous. That said, I do enjoy humorous art, but that can also depend on the humour… For me though, after lots of years of screen-based work, it’s been quite a joyful process connecting with a way of image making that is non digital again. It has limitations which is a challenge, but one I enjoy navigating. Perhaps, sometimes the enjoyment of the process shows itself in me making humorous work. Playing with scale can often have funny results, juxtaposing giant figures into vast landscapes will very often have a sense of humour.

What is your process when creating these collages, do you sketch them beforehand or leave it to the moment and experiment? 

On occasion I have sketched an idea and worked from that, but mostly I experiment and make in the moment. I’m constantly collecting source materials. I particularly love older print (1950’s - 1970’s), the colour reproduction is often heavily saturated, which looks amazing.

The whole collage process I find quite mindful, from the quiet concentration of cutting out elements, to the experimentation on page. When I began making collages regularly about five years ago, I rarely stuck pieces down, I would try a myriad of compositions, photographing as I went - temporary collages - ephemeral…The more work I’ve made the more instinctual the process has become, I often just get a sense when a piece is ‘right’, and there is always an element of chance… what elements will present themselves from the piles of old books and magazines I’ve amassed. 

How did you decide on the cut-out images you used for Chris Watson’s show? 

The images chosen for Chris’s show were a combination of Chris’s photos, my own photographs and some vintage illustrations from a very old Norwegian nature book I picked up in a second-hand bookstore in Tromso, Norway, earlier this year.

The decisions were based largely around the sounds that feature in No Man’s Land, the cast list! 

For more information on Chris Watson’s installation No Man’s Land check out our website here.

​Total Theatre Archive: preserving 30 years of UK performance history and creating an interactive archive

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We have a great opportunity to share from our friends at Total Theatre Magazine. 

Are you interested in any of the following: archiving processes, arts journalism, theatre and performance, writing and editing specialist arts magazines and blogs, cultural heritage? Would you be interested in volunteering (part-time) or undertaking a short full-time work experience placement with Total Theatre Magazine in 2018? 

Total Theatre Magazine is putting together a small team of volunteers to work on an exciting new project – the Total Theatre Archive. Phase one of this project has started, and are now recruiting volunteers & student placements to work with them (number of days to be agreed between Total Theatre Magazine and the volunteer).  Start dates to be agreed with the volunteers, are from April 2018 onwards.

Volunteers will be paid in travel and lunch expenses. Some of the work will be administrative but there will also be the opportunity to see performance work and write about it, and to be involved in the process of archiving Total Theatre’s print magazines, and creating content for their websites. 

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 the course of 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 to be launched early in 2019. The current site can be viewed here: 

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.

Supporters of this project include Rose Bruford College of Theatre  & Performance, Royal Conservatoire Scotland, and us! 

Contact editor Dorothy Max Prior by email to to express interest in this role and to find out more.

Some hints of what you will hear at No Man’s Land

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Today (Monday 26 March) we are getting ready for Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land, which opens tomorrow at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts and runs to the 13 April. 

Chris has given us some hints of the sounds you might hear in No Man’s Land, his journey around the world via the seven seas in sound.

Brighton sea front

Brighton beach 

Starlings roosting on the old West Pier, Brighton

Sea wash at the base of the pier taking the listener underwater and out into the deep ocean

Weddell seals singing under the Antarctic sea ice by Ross Island

A coral reef in the South China Sea

Humpback whales singing on the Silverbank in the Caribbean, off the Dominican Republic

Hunting pods of Orca in the North Atlantic Ocean

Grey seals singing off the Isle of May in Scotland

Bearded seals singing by the Tuna glacier in Svalbard, the Arctic Ocean 

Return to Brighton beach


These sounds are punctuated by the harmonic rhythms and pulses of the great ocean currents.

Let us know how many you hear!


Book your ticket to hear the full work via this link. 


Chris Watson: No Man’s Land for D/deaf audiences

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Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land is an audio installation that celebrates the sounds, rhythms and music from deep below the surface the world’s seas and oceans.

Taking place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from 27 March – 13 April and suitable for all ages, this city-specific edit of the sound work created by Watson (David Attenborough’s sound recordist), takes the listener from Brighton beach, through the soapy surf and out around the world, submerged on an oceanic journey for the ears and the imagination.

No Man’s Land is a unique spatialized audio journey into the deep ocean and the most ‘sound rich’ environments on the planet. The sounds that make up the piece have been collected by Watson over his 30-year career as a sound recordist specialising in natural history, including from his work on Frozen Planet and on documentaries and musical collaborations at far ends of the earth. Watson is also an experimental musician and a founding member of the group Cabaret Voltaire.

The balloon is a way that D/deaf or hard of hearing audiences can experience No Man’s Land via the medium of vibrations. 

 The membrane of a balloon is sensitive and it vibrates because the soundwaves from our  speakers are powerful, especially in the ‘ambisonic’ configuration that we will have our auditorium set up in for this installation.

You will be able to pick up a (biodegradable) balloon at our box office before your visit if you would like to experience the work in this way.

For more information contact our box office in person 10am-4pm Monday to Friday or via 01273 678 822 /


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