In this new series, the team at Mobius let you in on all their favourite arts venues and regular haunts from their hometowns around the UK.
Next up is our Distribution Coordinator, George Rennie, who hails from Brighton. Check out previous entries in this series from Flavia Fraser-Cannon (from Waterloo) and Alastair Norton (from Wolverhampton).
1. Can you tell us about your favourite local arts venues when you were growing up?
Brighton is a place of fun, frills and hen parties. It loves to bask in the glow of its Regency heritage, and the arts culture reflects its liberal and leisurely roots as much as the people who live there.
Growing up, the absolute highlight of the year was Earwig's drama summer school at the Gardner Arts Centre (now the Attenborough Centre for the Arts), where I had my first encounters with puppetry, mime and fake blood. Edinburgh’s quirky cousins, the Brighton Fringe and Brighton Festival, light up our venues every May, and I’ve been blessed with stand-up at The Warren, drag legends at Revenge, and even a live reading of Gothic teen fan fic 'My Immortal' in St. Andrew's Church.
Our two principal venues, the Brighton Dome and Theatre Royal were built for George IV, and host pantos and visiting shows from Wise Children to Hofesch Schechter. The Old Market has a great programme too, run by the creative geniuses behind Stomp, and we won’t ever let you forget that ABBA won the Eurovision at the Brighton Dome in 1974.
No account of Brighton’s theatre scene would be complete without mentioning the beyond wonderful Marlborough Theatre — now The Actors. One of our most authentic, versatile and joyous queer venues, it was the coolest place to be during Pride, and I will never forget Harry Clayton-Wright’s to-this-day unmatched DJ set, nor the fascination of sitting with Sharon Husbands in the green room as she put her face on to perform. Good times!
2. And what about your favourite local culture spots now?
Having recently moved back to London, I'm rediscovering all my old haunts — and finding new ones. Soho Theatre has already jumped right back onto my radar with its incredibly broad and brilliant programme, delightfully trendy bar, and obvious passion for artists and audiences alike. It’s so unendingly cool! The Yard and Pleasance are also up there, having exposed me to the essential Pecs Drag Kings, and the now-on-hiatus (but definitely one-to-watch) London Horror Festival.
I’ll always check to see what’s on at the Old Vic and Almeida, and the joint Vauxhall jewels of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and The Eagle have shown me some of the most exciting, experimental and entertaining cabaret and drag I’ve ever seen, reflecting back the wonderful diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. Like The Glory, these venues provide a space for theatre and party to mix. It’s how it ought to be done.
3. And any other local recommendations?
I’d always recommend finding a lovely friend with whom to wander along the Regent's Canal. You can even get a ‘Hot Tug’ boat if you’re feeling really fruity, and bubble away in style as the sun sets and the ducks swim around your head.