Sick Festival Logo

Sicker Than Your Average Festival

A new festival will be taking over Brighton this month shedding light on physical and mental illness. Words by Daniel White.

The topic of illness can be a hard one to approach.

Whether it be mental or physical, it is tackled with caution and trepidation normally for fear of a show of ignorance or causing offence.

However, a new arts and culture festival will take place in Brighton throughout March confronting the physical, mental and social challenges of life and death.

SICK! Festival, which will run from March 3-29, will feature live performances from renowned comedians and actors, as well as dance, instillation, film and debates, covering the issues surrounding mental illness, ageing and death.

TV personality and mental health campaigner, Ruby Wax, will open the month-long festival with her show Same New World, discussing her personal experience with depression as well as her study of cognitive therapy.

Elsewhere, the stories of four patients’ and their doctors are displayed in a large-scale light-box instillation in Stories From The Front Line, in Jubilee Square.

The Gob Squad’s final show of Before Your Very Eyes is also set to take place following more than 100 international performances. The performance presents seven children peering into their futures as they plan for adulthood.

Before Your Very Eyes
Before Your Very Eyes

Meanwhile, medical directors, senior researchers and communication professors will discuss the treatment of mental illness employed by doctors and psychologists in Good Pharma – Bad Pharma, a topical debate held at Brighton Town Hall.

The Basement will play host to many of this month’s performances and Helen Medland, the venue’s Artistic Director, is looking forward to shedding light on some of the lesser-publicised illnesses.

“Being sick is a universal thing that everyone experiences at some point in their lives and connects us all as human beings,” she explained.

“The SICK! Festival is about shining a light on those serious mental and physical health issues, which too often remain hidden and under the radar. Underlying the SICK! Festival is a desire to help inform and open minds, share experiences but also bring humour to those dark periods of life.

“We want to celebrate the survival of human life, individual resilience and the social bonds that keep us going through this incredible array of highly personal performances, art and discussions.”

To see a full programme of events or for more information on this month’s SICK! Festival, then visit