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Multi-disciplinary arts festival confronts living, dying and being human

University of Sussex academics will be chairing and taking part in a number of discussions during a major international arts festival that is coming to campus next week.

SICK! Festival challenges people to face the realities of being human – such as life, death, sickness and health. It will be exploring belonging and identity, trauma and wellbeing through a wide-ranging programme of performances, talks and film screenings.

The festival, which takes place from 20-25 March, has been organised in partnership with the University of Sussex, the University’s Attenborough Centre of Creative Arts (ACCA), and Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). It is the first time the Brighton dates of the festival have taken place in their entirety at the University of Sussex.

Laura McDermott, Creative Director of the ACCA, says: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with SICK! festival to present the Brighton edition of their festival this year.

“SICK! is known for bringing together thought-provoking, cutting-edge work from important voices both in the artistic community and further afield in its festival programmes.”

Dr Jason Price, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Theatre and Performance at Sussex, will chair a post-show discussion after disabled people have taken centre stage at the ACCA. To Belong (20 March, 9pm) is a dance performance from Belgian choreographer Koen De Preter about solidarity and what it means to be part of a group.

Bobbie Farsides, Professor in Clinical & Biomedical Ethics at BSMS, will chair Staff Stories (21 March, 4.15pm), a regular forum for NHS staff locally to reflect on the many challenges, stresses and ethical dilemmas they face in the course of providing compassionate care. At SICK! the public is invited to join this process for the very first time, gaining an insight into the lives of our healthcare providers and participating in an open conversation about the experiences presented.

The festival also explores issues around race and cultural identity. #NEGROPHOBIA (22 March, 9.15pm) sees American poet, producer and curator Jaamil Olawale Kosoko examining the erotic fear associated with black bodies, in a show that is part performance lecture and part ritual séance. Dr Sara Jane Bailes from the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence at Sussex will chair the post-show discussion.

University of Sussex Lecturer in Law Dr Tanya Palmer will take part in a post-show discussion following The Game (24 March, 7pm). This play takes a candid look at the world of sex work, revealing the subculture of prostitution with its rules, its language and its power structures. It’s also a real-life game, featuring five male volunteers from Brighton. They’ve no idea what they’re about to do, and they won’t be given a script.

To conclude the festival, visual artist and performance maker Hetain Patel will present American Man (25 March, 9pm) a personal, sometimes dark, outlook on a world that bombards us with contradicting ideas about who and how we should be, and where freedom walks hand in hand with guilt. A post-show discussion with Laura McDermott and Hetain Patel will explore identity, representation and the media.

In the run-up to SICK! Festival people have been contributing ideas on what they’d like to happen ‘before they die’ to an interactive installation by Candy Chang, which has previously been shown in more than 70 countries. Chalkboards have been installed on campus in Library Square and in Brighton’s Jubilee Square for the project.

Assisted performances take place across SICK! Festival, including captioned performances and British Sign Language-interpreted events for those who are Deaf and hard of hearing. 

Many of the events at SICK! are free. For each ticketed show at SICK! Festival, 20 tickets are ‘Pay What You Decide’ - come and see a show without paying anything in advance and then pay what you think is appropriate after the show. See ACCA’s website for full details.

For full information about the programme and to book tickets, see or call 01273 678822.

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Posted on behalf of: Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
Last updated: Friday, 17 March 2017


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