Wide-ranging pleasures in new season at University of Sussex's arts centre ACCA

Laura McDermott
Laura McDermott

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), the arts centre at the University of Sussex, is promising wide-ranging entertainment in its new spring season.

Led by creative director Laura McDermott, the season is a curated selection of performance, music, a new regular cinema strand, discussion and debate, presented in collaboration with academics at University of Sussex and cultural partners from across Brighton & Hove, including a collaboration with Brighton Fringe for the first time this May.

Laura said: “Resonating with the current moment in UK domestic politics, throughout the season multiple artworks deal with the notion of nation from different perspectives and consider how political and economic decisions impact people’s personal lives and sense of self.

“Ontroerend Goed, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Richard Jordan Productions and Vooruit Kunstcentrum present £¥€$ (LIES) (March 13-15), in a casino-esque set and environment, this interactive theatrical experience which invites to you get under the skin of the super rich, the one per cent who pull the strings at the heart of the global economic system. Trading as a fictional country, audiences can gamble, in fictional trading markets.

“Further performances from international theatre makers this season include China Plate & Staatstheatre Mainz’s - Status, written by Chris Thorpe and directed by Rachel Chavkin. This new show from a multi Fringe First winning team tells the story of a globe spanning journey (from London to a rooftop bar of a Shanghai hotel, via the Mojave desert) taken by a man who doesn’t want his nationality any more (April 9).

“A further event - performingborders: LIVE (March 19) - also focuses on the exploration of personal, cultural and physical borders with UK-based artists and curators. The evening, programmed to coincide with One World Week at University of Sussex, will feature Nobel Peace Prize Photographer Sim Chi Yin in conversation with Annie Jael Kwan from Asia-Art-Activism.

“An exciting new addition to ACCA’s programme for spring 2019 will be a new strand of weekly events for film and visual culture fans: ACCA’s Cinema Club. Programmed by ACCA and Brighton based independent film curators, the first season of films will consider ideas around national identity and culture, land, borders, movement and migration. Films by names such as Ai Weiwei, M.I.A and Chantal Akerman will be nestled within a season of global cinematic gems. Cinema Club will also include wrap around talks, DJ sets, and a special afternoon Sunday brunch offer in ACCA’s café bar. (Sundays from February 17-April 14).

“ACCA are pleased to have co-commissioned (along with Battersea Arts Centre and Arts Centre Melbourne) the first new solo work by Bryony Kimmings for over a decade – I’m a Phoenix, Bitch. The Brighton dates (May 3-7) are the first dates for this award-winning show outside London, following huge critical acclaim and five-star reviews. Combining personal stories with epic film, soundscapes and ethereal music, Bryony creates a powerful, dark and joyful work about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength. I’m a Phoenix, Bitch will be a headline show in the opening weekend of Brighton Fringe 2019, and marks the first time that Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts has been a Brighton Fringe collaborator and host venue.

“ACCA are also pleased to be working again this season in partnership with The Marlborough Theatre, bringing FK Alexander’s VIOLENCE (March 7) to Sussex for the first time. VIOLENCE is a new performance art piece and a meditation on the cruelty of love, the weight of loneliness, the gift of desperation, the freedom of anxiety, the chrysalis of hopelessness, and the power of dreams. This performance is part of The Marlborough’s mini-season called Radical Softness, exploring notions of care, healing and openness as forms of strength.

“Two contemporary music gigs take place this Spring, organised by ACCA associate music programmer Laura Ducceschi. Brighton-based artist Poppy Ackroyd will perform an intimate show on her Resolve (released by One Little Indian) album tour on February 22. She will perform using ACCA’s Steinway piano and the show will feature bespoke synchronised visuals by Tom Newell. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts will host the inaugural date on Apparat’s first UK tour since 2013 in Brighton on April 26.

“Working with academics at the University of Sussex is always a key part of ACCA’s programme. Opening ACCA’s season is Viriditas: The Music and Life of Hildegard von Bingen, a festival curated by Dr Alice Eldridge (Music, Film & Media). Later in the season, Andrew Duff (Music, Film & Media), presents Brighton Modular Festival, three days of music, synths and a chance to mingle with like-minded modular synth enthusiasts (July 19-21).

“ACCA is proud to name Brighton People’s Theatre as an associate company and to support them in in 2019. The year-long programme of workshops, masterclasses and theatre clubs aims to demonstrate an appetite for a permanent people’s theatre in the city, and will seek to work with at least 100 local residents who are not currently engaged with arts provision in the city. All activities are offered on a Pay-What-You-Can basis.

“In May, and for the fourth year, ACCA will collaborate with Brighton Festival, to co-present a series of performances.”

Laura added: “Our programme aims to create a space for critical reflection within a complex world. Especially in turbulent political times, we can learn by looking to the past, or by taking an international perspective. There are stories and experiences from all over the world represented in our programme of performances, films and talks. Many events are accompanied by additional insight from academics working here at University of Sussex.”

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