The Brighton Festival are delighted to announce the courageous leader, human rights advocate and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2011. Aung San Suu Kyi has fought passionately for over two decades for democracy and human rights in Burma and taken to the heart of this year’s Brighton Festival is her plea ‘use your liberty to promote ours’, with artists, both local and international, presenting a powerful and wide-ranging programme.
Brighton, as the UK’s most liberal city, is the ideal place to host a festival celebrating themes of freedom of expression, liberty and the power of the individual voice in society and will come alive in May as we celebrate and champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s cause and world-vision.
Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration to many people around the world and particularly to many within the arts community. Brighton Festival is a unique opportunity for a collection of artists, who are passionate supporters, to respond to her and create headline events. Crossing all genres of the programme Brighton Festival 2011 includes events ranging from a new co-commissioned work by Turkish artist Kutluğ Ataman to a revival of the acclaimed site-specific theatre commission The New World Order by theatre company Hydrocracker based on Pinter’s political plays. Aung San Suu Kyi’s passion for Western classical music has also been reflected right across the programme, and includes Beethoven’s powerful hymn to freedom Fidelio in a concert performance with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Adam Fischer.
The books and debate programme takes up this year’s themes with a fascinating line up including Peter Taylor the BBC investigative journalist and author of Talking to Terrorists; Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of I Shall Not Hate; a debate on ‘The Future of Burma’ with Sue Lloyd Roberts, Zoya Phan – Burmese refugee and activist with Burma Campaign and Robert Gordon, Ambassador to Burma 1995-1999, an event with International PEN and Jericho House Theatre Co called ‘Writing Freedom’ and a discussion entitled ‘Article 19’ on Freedom of Information and the right to know with Julian Assange.
The Festival’s two previous Guest Directors, Anish Kapoor in 2009 and Brian Eno in 2010, have reflected on the purpose of art and the cumulative effect a Festival can create. With Aung San Suu Kyi as Guest Director this year, the Festival becomes a powerful celebration of the resilience of the human spirit, of creativity in the face of oppression and the power of art to promote understanding between cultures.
Aung San Suu Kyi says “It is especially pleasing for me to see, albeit remotely, Brighton Festival taking shape this year, and to think that so many people will come together in May to celebrate great art and experience the inner peace it brings. It is wonderful too to know that there is such support for the effort to bring democracy and freedom to Burma, for which the Burmese people have been diligently working for so long. I wish everyone involved in Brighton Festival this year – the artists and the audience – the happiest of times. And thank you – please continue to use your liberty to promote ours.”
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival says “It is a great honour to build a Festival around Aung San Suu Kyi and to take our inspiration from her. I hope this programme reflects some of her extraordinary spirit. I’ve been heartened that an incredible collection of artists have been so eager to come together under the umbrella of Brighton Festival to celebrate this iconic woman who is an inspiration to so many.”
Aung San Suu Kyi’s brother-in-law Adrian Phillips says: “Choosing Aung San Suu Kyi as Guest Director means Brighton Festival is able to present the very real and concerning issues in Burma to the public in a different way, through the universal language of the arts. Aung San Suu Kyi has often said how important music and the arts have been to her throughout her life and Brighton Festival is a wonderful opportunity to bring her struggle to a wider public, at a time when it is so important for the world to keep remembering what remains to be done in Burma.”
Burma Campaign director Anna Roberts says “It’s fantastic that a Festival of this calibre can celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi and keep Burma’s cause and the fight for human rights in the public eye at such a critical time”
Kutluğ Ataman Mesopotamian Dramaturgies Brighton Festival co-commission
Mesopotamian Dramaturgies, from internationally successful Turkish artist, Kutluğ Ataman, is a collection of stand-alone artworks and films conceived in response to the subject of modernism, with the dynamics of its relentless advance into the Middle East and the imagery provoked by its often violent history. Ataman documents the lives of marginalised individuals, exploring issues of political and environmental tensions across this region and beyond.
This installation has been co-commissioned by Brighton Festival to be shown in the atmospheric warehouse space of the Old Municipal Market.
Hydrocracker The New World Order Brighton Festival commission (2007)
Brighton Festival’s sell-out site-specific commission of 2007 returns. A collection of four of Harold Pinter’s political miniatures are woven together into a powerful, provocative and intimate performance. The New World Order is an examination of political oppression, torture, and the mechanics of “what is done in our name. Set throughout Brighton’s Town Hall, including the depths of the Victorian police cells, the audience has a visceral experience of imprisonment and literally go on a journey through the space to ‘witness’ different plays in different rooms and corridors.
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Brighton Festival Chorus present Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, conducted by Adam Fischer and with a newly commissioned narration by Simon Butteriss. Its themes – wrongful incarceration, abuse of power and personal sacrifice – seem startlingly contemporary, however this two-act opera’s underlying message is of right triumphing over might made manifest in the final ‘victory’ chorus. The cast includes Roman Sadnik (Florestan), Janice Watson (Leonore), Matthew Best (Rocco) and Elena Xanthoudakis (Marzelline) .
Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes El Gallo and Monsters and Prodigies UK Premiere
Mexico’s leading contemporary theatre company Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes come to the UK with two works shown here for the first time. El Gallo is an ‘opera for actors’, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, sung in a made-up language and performed with visceral physical energy. In Monsters and Prodigies, Baroque opera meets a history of ideas in this elaborate and witty musical take on the castrati enigma. Both are directed by Mexican wunderkind director Claudio Valdés Kuri.
Asian Dub Foundation, Music of Resistance Brighton Festival Exclusive
Inspired by the struggle in Burma, Asian Dub Foundation (ADF) open Brighton Festival with a special one-off event. ADF have always been at the forefront of musical resistance and politicisation and their new album History of Now is no exception with its striking themes of globalisation, democracy, climate change and revolution. All of the collaborators on that album come together here for this live event, taking over the foyer as well as the Brighton Dome Concert Hall and accompanied by screened footage of Aljazeera documentary series The Music of Resistance.
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