Brighton’s Festival Frenzy

The brochures are out, posters are popping up in windows and doorways around town, and a fizz of excitement is brewing in Brighton’s artsy air. From the 6th May until 5th June the Brighton Festival and the Brighton Fringe will send the city into a creative crescendo for the 50th consecutive year.

 Stepping up to the helm as this year’s Guest Director is one of America’s most daring creative pioneers Laurie Anderson (below).

laurie anderson

Writer, director, visual artist and vocalist renowned for her inventive use of technology, the strings of Anderson’s creative bow stretch from the world of art, to theatre and experimental music. Her many accolades include the 1981 hit O Superman, her appointment as NASA’s first artist-in-residence, and most recently the feature film in – Heart of a Dog – which reflects on the deaths of her husband Lou Reed, her mother, her beloved dog, and such diverse subjects as family memories, surveillance and Buddhist teachings.

 As always, Festival highlights come to us courtesy of eminent local and international companies, including Spymonkies’ The Complete Deaths (below), and Blast Theory’s and Hydrocrackers joint venture Operation Black Antler. Multi-award winning Czech company Ver-te-dance bring us their truly elevating piece of dance theatre Corrections, whilst the Akrham Dance Lions will set the Dome alight with their arresting new, full-length production Until the Lions.

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 But what really makes the month of May so special and exciting are the offerings from the lesser known performers and companies that make up the Brighton Fringe . This year there are over 900 events, spanning the sublime and charming to the ridiculous and outrageous.

Several of Evolution Arts’ creative sparklers will be adding their mark to this year’s Fringe. Our wonderful dance tutor, Rosaria Gracia (Dancing For Health & Bollywood Dance) will be gracing the streets with the dance troupe Maracatu Cruzeiro do Sul, who will be performing an exciting new show entitled Brazil: Encounter of Cultures.

Cast Iron Theatre’s A Year Without Summer is written and directed by Andrew Allen who is running his first workshop at Evolution Arts, Love The One You’re (Acting) With on 24th July.

year without summer

Evolution Arts tutor Jonathan Brown (Dig Deep – Unearthing The Actor In You, starting Saturday 18th June) is premiering his new play A Good Jew and co-directing Sarah Charsley in her solo show Ghost Sex. Sarah, who co-man’s Evolution Arts’ busy office two days a week, is also appearing in Rantomime with fellow comedian Andy Thomas.

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Evolution tutor Bern O’ Donoghue’s (Learning To Draw starting Friday 29 April), socially engaged work is among that being featured in the Brighton Open House exhibition entitled Displacement. 

If you are a budding musician, actor or artist, or if you fancy getting creative in some shape or form, whilst having fun and meeting new people along the way, Evolution Arts has an exciting range of courses and workshops on offer.

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Drawn To The Page

When she’s not busy delivering sessions in creative mindfulness and creative writing here at Evolution Arts, writer, artist and experienced arts educator Wendy Ann Greenhalgh is being ‘Drawn to the Page’ in art galleries across the South East.

Drawn to the Page is a creative partnership between New Writing South, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood Gallery and Towner Art Gallery and Wendy Ann Greenhalgh. The project, which is funded for 2 years by Arts Council England, allows literature and the visual arts to collide in the form of a series of monthly writing workshops in the three partnering galleries.

Each session begins with a ‘first look’ where participants can wander around the gallery at their leisure, under the guidance of Wendy Ann. This ‘first look’ gives participants the chance to enjoy, explore and examine the exhibitions whilst jotting down their own responses to the art.




As one regular to Drawn To The Page writer, Helen, shared, one of the things she values about these sessions is that chance to develop her own responses to the works on display, even though she doesn’t feel she knows much about art in any official way.


Afterwards writers are invited to share their thoughts about the art in a group discussion. The second part of the session takes the form of a creative writing workshop facilitated by Wendy Ann who has worked on previous creative writing and arts projects with the galleries and who is part of the Creative Learning Team at New Writing South. As well as creative writing exercises, writers have the chance to read out their work and, following the session, are invited to publish it on the Drawn to the Page Blog. Some writers have had their first ever publication this way. Anyone who does publish  is offered free membership of NWS too!

Drawn To The Page writer Marian says:

“My favourite thing about these sessions, is that it makes me take time to examine, enjoy and study art work I might not have looked at. It has helped my development as a writer, because it has affirmed what I find easy but coerced me to write with a more challenging, different technique. I have developed a piece based on a portrait I studied at the Jerwood gallery, which I hope to evolve and which was published on the Drawn To The Page blog. I probably would not have visited the Jerwood and Towner galleries without this incentive.”


With three art galleries to choose from, writers can enjoy a different exhibition, new artists and a variety of mediums on a regular basis, from painting and drawing to photography and installation art – there’s something for all artistic tastes and, what’s more, no prior art knowledge is needed. And with a new selection of creative writing exercises each month, you’ll never write the same thing twice.

The next session is at the Melanie Manchot exhibition at Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne on Saturday April 23rd 2-5pm. Details on the exhibition here (it opens on the 16th):

The half-day workshops are open to all writers – whatever your level of experience and cost £30 – which includes entrance to all exhibitions. Or attend 2 or more sessions in a season with a discount of £25 per ticket – to take advantage of this click here.

You can listen in on a session and discover what it’s like by listening to Drawn to the Page’s appearance on the Radio 4 Open Book programme.

You can book on to Wendy Ann’s next creative writing session at Evolution Arts ‘Myths and Fairy Tales’, by clicking here.

Evolution Arts has an exciting selection of other writing and art courses and workshops coming up soon including: Watercolour Painting, Successful Short Stories, Painting with Acrylics, Collage & Mixed Media, Drawing Stories, Abstract Photography and Collective Writing.

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And Now For Some Good News



Great News – Evolution Arts‘ website is back up and running. We’re very sorry for the technical problems we’ve been experiencing recently.

If you still see the screen with a message about a new website then you need to clear your cache. How do you do that?? We’re always happy to help so here’s a useful article that we found via a web search.

To thank you for your patience and understanding, here’s a preview of our exciting new Spring & Summer 2016 brochure, which is due to hit the shelves next week. You’ll find an even bigger selection of  courses, workshops and drop-ins to choose from than usual – so sit back and enjoy the read.



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(Brighton &) Hove Grown Festival


Over the last few months, the creative community in Brighton & Hove has been sowing the seeds of a brand new mulit-arts festival.

From 18th – 27th March you can reap the rewards of their creative labours as  (Brighton &) Hove Grown bursts to life, showcasing the best in Brighton & Hove’s creative community in three venues across the city.

(Brighton &) Hove Grown is a celebration of new writing, consisting of 29 shows and workshops covering comedy, impro, spoken word and theatre.


The festival grew from a cross-polination of ideas between Guy Wah, founder of ZLS TheatreBrighton’s only social enterprise theatre company, and Sweet Venues, which manages the award-winning Duxebox Theatre.

In autumn last year Guy had the eureka moment of bringing together the best local writers and performers through a new affordable festival. At the same time Sarah Johnson, assistant venue manager for Sweet Venues, was looking at ways of increasing the awareness of venues in the Western Road area of Hove. Guy says:

“We wanted an affordable festival that draws attention to the huge variety of fantastic new writing and performance in Brighton and Hove and more importantly we wanted to give these new works an opportunity to be performed.We’re thrilled to have so much support in our first year, particularly from Brighton Fringe, as we always set out to be a forerunner for local writing and performance leading up to the fantastic line-ups at The Fringe and other festivals.”

The festival aims to shine a spotlight on some of the brilliant venues in Hove ahead of their participation in Brighton Fringe in Mays. Sarah Johnson, assistant venue manager for Sweet Venues, says:

“We hope by being loud and proud about our love for Hove, we will raise awareness of the hub of creative activity that has developed in the Western Road area and in time we believe this will drive new footfall and spending to the venues and surrounding local businesses.”

The performances in this year’s festival, which all cost £10 or less (some only £3!), will be taking place in the Brunswick, the intimate Dukebox Theatre and the cool and quirky Artista Studio. The shows, many of which are being performed for the first time, will showcase the talent of some of Brighton & Hove’s freshest and most fertile creative seeds.

Comedy includes Funny Women Awards Finalist Jane Postlethwaite’s special edition of her character comedy Made In Cumbria’, Banana Skits standup comedy evenings and Ant McEwan’s The Man Who Looks Like Goat, a self-deprecating account of his mad-capped life so far.

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If theatre is more up your artistic street, don’t miss the multisensory, multi-media theatrical extravaganza Insomnia (featured photo), the Semi Narrative Musical Theatrical performance Television Terrorists (below) or Cast Iron Theatre’s seventh showcase of brand new plays from local writers.


As well as many exciting improv and spoken word events there will also be a variety of workshops with a tailored section for educational family-friendly shows.

Tonight sees the festival’s launch party at The DukeBox in celebration of its first year.

If you fancy taking part in (Brighton &) Hove Grown’s future festivals – they have committed to presenting this festival for the next three years – Evolution Arts‘ writing, drama and improv courses and workshops can help bring your creative ideas to fruition.

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It’s All About Women

With Mother’s Day last Sunday and International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March, this week it’s all about women.

International Women’s Day was originally established in 1911 to, as the Independent puts it: “mark women’s enormous contribution to humankind.” Giving birth to the entire human race might indeed be regarded as an enormous contribution, so they’re not wrong there. But why is a ‘women’s day’ necessary in the 21st Century?

In many places around the world – including the oh-so-enlightened West – women lag lamentably behind men in pay for performing the same job; a mere 55 of the world’s richest 500 people are female; and the closest encounter half the population ever have with a glass ceiling is to clean it. Meanwhile, in 2015, a woman spent five months in a Tehran jail for protesting against the ban on females watching sports in stadiums alongside men, women are routinely seen as the sexual property of men – whether or not they know them – and in too many places on the planet women have to cover themselves from head to toe just in case men can’t control themselves. This, and having to solicit the permission of a man even to avail themselves of a medical intervention on their own bodies, demonstrates just why a day of recognition – if not reckoning – is warranted. As for women’s status in Saudi Arabia, space prohibits us from even listing the injustices women endure there, so here’s a handy link.


And so, if it appears strange that 50% of the human species has to mark on the calendar a day to remind the other 50% of the human species that we are all actually homosapiens, sadly, there are very persuasive reasons for it.

This week there are an abundance of events taking place in countries across the globe to celebrate the social, cultural and economic achievements of women and highlight the pressing issues they continue to face. In the US the newly crowned Queen of Gender Equality, English actress Emma Watson (pictured below) will be one of the speakers at a rally to launch HeForShe Arts Week, a weeklong spotlight on women’s rights and gender equality. In India, SeekSherpa is hosting a series of events tied into International Women’s Day, including an all-girl pub crawl and a bus tour of hidden culinary hotspots in Delhi, whilst Taiwan’s  Girls in Tech evening on March 8 celebrated entrepreneurial women of the web.


In London the weeklong WOW (Women of the World) Festival is taking place at the Southbank Centre, and will feature over 150 events, including talks, debates, live music, comedy, dance lessons, workshops and  even a demonstration from the sword-wielding stars of Muslim Girls Fence.

In Evolution’s hometown of Brighton the Women’s Centre and Brighton Dome  put together a special, action-packed day of entertainment, films, workshops, exhibitions and discussions on March 8th, including an exhibition by artist and Evolution Arts tutor Bern O’Donooghue.  In Dead Reckoning, O’Donoghue presents a moving installation from her paper boat art project (see image below) bearing witness to the deaths in 2015 of an estimated 3,771 migrants and refugees who have attempted to cross the Mediterranean in their efforts to reach Europe.


Both Brighton Dome and Dukebox Theatre in Hove, are hosting a whole week of shows and workshops dedicated to celebrating womankind. Highlights include Sandi Toksvig’s live show, Politically Incorrect, local musician Hannah Brackenbury’s brilliant songs about pound shops, selfies, librarians, vodka and cats,  and a night of seriously sassy sketches about all things female from The Fannytasticals.

Evolution Arts offers courses and workshops where women (and men!) have the chance to express and celebrate themselves through a range of artistic mediums including dance, theatre, drawing, music and photography.


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