Unflinching plays deal with tough issues

Ankur Vikal, left, with Priyanka Bose in Nirbhaya
Ankur Vikal, left, with Priyanka Bose in Nirbhaya

Brighton Dome plays host to two very different and moving pieces of theatre this March as SICK! Festival returns to the city with a month-long programme of events taking place across Brighton confronting the physical, mental and social challenges of life and death.

“This year the festival has a particular focus on issues of sex and sexuality, abuse and suicide, something the two theatre pieces playing at Brighton Dome seeks to explore,” explains spokeswoman Emma Robertson.

“Powerful and unflinching, Nirbhaya (March 10 and 11) recreates and explores the events and ramifications of December 16, 2012, when a young woman in Delhi boarded a bus and was sexually attacked by a group of men. What followed changed their lives and countless others forever.

“Internationally-acclaimed playwright and director Yaël Farber’s award-winning play cracks open the cone of silence around women whose lives have been shattered by gender-based violence.

“With an extraordinary cast and creative team from India, Farber brings us a blistering evocation of that terrible night and the ripples of change it set in motion. Tearing away the shame that keeps the survivors silent, Nirbhaya is a voyage into a tapestry of personal testimonies.”

Making its UK premiere at SICK! Festival, director and playwright Edit Kaldor’s poignant show Woe (March 19) seeks to tackle and explore the effects of child abuse on both the body and the brain.

“Three teenagers talk about something they have no words for,” Emma explains. “They lead the spectators through memories of their own youth, gradually replacing the proffered images of childhood with their own experiences of neglect and abuse. Scientific representations of what happens in the body and the brain during abuse are woven in with subjective experiences, dreams and fantasies.

“A unique voice in international contemporary theatre, Edit Kaldor is renowned for mixing documentary and fictional elements into her work, often working with non-professional actors and integrating innovative digital media in each performance.”

SICK! Festival was launched in 2013 as the first festival of its kind in the UK dedicated to exploring the medical, mental and social challenges of life and death and how we survive them or don’t.

SICK! presents an international, cross art-form programme featuring theatre, dance, film, public installations and debates in venues across Brighton & Hove, Manchester and Salford.

“The festival seeks out new ways of talking about and dealing with the bad times that are unflinching, informed, irreverent and humane,” Emma said. “It is a reflection on those experiences that are most personal to us, but which somehow connect us all as individuals with bodies, minds and lives that sometimes go wrong. SICK! Festival is delivered in partnership with leading arts organisations, medical and academic institutions, charities and community groups.”

Visit www.sickfestival.com. Tickets on 01273 709709.