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Brighton Festival 2015 launches with Ali Smith as guest director

Highlights include a series of events themed around the upcoming General Election

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Ali Smith

Brighton Festival has launched its 2015 programme, with award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith as guest director.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2 to 24 May 2015 - many of Smith's "ideas, interests and passions" will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film and literature.

Smith said she was "delighted and honoured" to be asked to curate this year's programme, adding: "what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine - the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England."

Highlights of the theatre line-up include the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson's four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York.

Paines Plough's pop-up Roundabout theatre, which appeared at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, will host plays by Dennis Kelly, Duncan Macmillan and Alexandra Wood in Regency Square.

There will also be a series of works themed around 'Crossing Places', where "poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance". These include The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by filmmaker Sam Green in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel.

And in Being Both, mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert's Harry Bicket and Susannah Waters will stage a "theatrical journey into the heart of Handel's sublime vocal music", which, in a nod to Smith's work How to Be Both, "explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender".

'Uniquely welcoming'

The General Election, which takes place on 7 May, will be marked by events including Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati hosting an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay.

Other acts announced today include spoken artist Kate Tempest, ventriloquist Nina Conti and fimmaker Agnès Varda.

Smith, who follows previous guest directors including Vanessa Redgrave and Hofesh Shechter, said: "I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness.

"No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming."

For full details of the Brighton Festival programme, click here