Brighton Fringe Festival hosts social care themed attractions


While the main Brighton festival gets most of the publicity, it’s the fringe that gets me heading down the A23 this month, writes Mark Drinkwater.

The fringe is baby brother, or sister, to the main festival in the city and, with more than 500 alternative arts events, there should be plenty for even the most discerning art-loving social care professional.

Brighton is one of the few places that makes us Londoners squirm at the house prices. The city’s homelessness problem gets an airing with Jacaranda Theatre’s Sleeping Rough. If you like gritty Aussie films, this drama should be for you.

Youth arts are well represented at the fringe ( Perhaps the most interesting of which is My Life, a photography exhibition at the newly built Jubilee Library (a work of art itself) featuring images and statements by young people who use the substance misuse service RU-OK?

Author Dorothy Rowe, best known for her work on depression, gives a talk about her latest book, My Dearest Enemy: My Dangerous Friend – a radical examination of our relationships with our siblings. Mental health is further investigated in RedCape’s The Idiot Colony, a fascinating play based on real life events when countless women were committed for decades as “moral defectives”. Their “crimes” included illegitimate pregnancy and lesbianism, with many patients detained until the hospital closure programmes of the 1980s.

Identity is the subject focused on by contemporary European photographers in The Unwanted Self at the University of Brighton Gallery.

But it’s not all serious stuff at the festival, and identity gets a slightly less PC exploration from Muslim comedian Shazia Mirza, star of the BBC’s F**k Off I’m A Hairy Woman.

Or for a more frivolous examination of gender roles try the cabaret evenings with the Ladyboys of Bangkok.

Finally, if work’s been a strain recently, visit the meditation workshops at the Bodhisattva Buddhist Centre on Lansdowne Road where they will be teaching techniques for relieving stress.

Mark Drinkwater is a community worker in Southwark, south London

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Brighton, 3 to 26 May

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