Born in the same year Brighton Festival began, the acclaimed British and Ethiopian writer Lemn Sissay MBE, has launched Tell Me Something About Family today (Fri 7 May). The new storytelling website has been created with Brighton Festival 2021 and will inspire Sissay to create a new piece of work from the public’s recollections that will “light up the world with stories and phrases about family.”
From his own personal experience of growing up in social care, Sissay is asking the public to tell him something about their own family via a written submission on the website. Visitors to the website can share their stories, mapping them to their desired location: a family home, a place filled with memory, or somewhere significant to their tale. Each story will be added as a shining orb on a location map, with visitors able to weave through towns and countries filled with memories, choosing just to read, or maybe feeling inspired to share their own memories to connect with people across the world.
Sissay has invited friends and colleagues as ambassadors, including the writer and comedian Henry Normal, author and TV presenter Baroness Floella Benjamin, Professor of Social Work, Dr Adele Jones and performance poet/author Laura Dockrill who have shared their own moving and personal stories.
Lemn Sissay said:
“It could be a memory from childhood. It could be a phrase that your father used to say that you thought everybody said, but then you discover they don’t! It could be the smell of your mother’s cooking. Include something that represents family to you, whether good or bad. There is something beautiful about hearing people speak honestly about the things that really matter, and we have learned in this pandemic that family really matters.”
Commissioned by Brighton Festival as part of Sissay’s role as guest director and the theme of ‘care’, the public can submit stories on the website up until 31 May 2021. Designed by Brighton based creative agency Baxter & Bailey, the storytelling mechanism starts with the idea of map pins to help identify where stories are coming from and to visually represent each story as a light.
Brighton Festival 2021 features nearly 100 events, performances and installations, taking place as specially commissioned online projects, as livestreams and across multiple outdoor and indoor locations extending from Brighton to Worthing until 31 May.