We are a registered charity that believes ‘Poetry must be made by all. Not by one.’ We work to encourage an appreciation of literature within the community, make poetry more accessible to the public at large and support new writers and performers.
In 2009 Roy Hutchins and the late great poet Heathcote Williams, set about forming a production platform that would help, encourage and support new emerging writing and artists, hence Brainfruit was born. Gaining charitable status in 2010, Brainfruit was immediately successful in being the recipient of a number of major grants, first from The Getty Foundation and then from The Big Lottery Fund and then receiving several major awards from the Arts Council. This funding allowed them to facilitate a number of fine projects, aiming to encourage an appreciation of literature within the community and make poetry more accessible to the public at large. Targeting these at traditionally marginalised groups, they began to be rolled out in the Brighton area and further afield. Simultaneously a series of critically acclaimed shows under the creative direction of Roy Hutchins toured nationally and internationally.
The outreach charity work included a major project which developed a group of young facilitators ages 18- 30 working with children from typically hard to reach groups; to use performance as the basis of finding greater self- esteem and artistic expression. Additionally, ’Scars’ a two year project in conjunction with Brighton Dome involved the facilitation of workshops that helped and encouraged older people to find their voice. These workshops acted as a catalyst to allow people who were older and retired to give expression to the creativity that lay within them. The collated feedback from both of these projects was exemplary, many of the people involved have published books and poems and found their way into the sometimes confusing mail stream which is the creative world.
The shows, were no less successful; starting with Zanzibar Cats, a solo show performed by Roy Hutchins and which featured the shorts poems of Heathcote Williams, that had previously not been performed publicly. Michael Coveney, the renowned theatre critic was the first of many reviewers to sing its praises. This show was performed nationally and was featured at Vurige Tongen (‘Fiery Tongues’ in Amsterdam, and was later renamed as, ‘Darwin’s Nose’ Following that, another show, this time centering on the natural history and scientific work of Heathcote Williams called ‘Forbidden Fruit’ again toured to critical acclaim. But these two shows were just the beginning.
Succeeding this, Brainfruit became truly collaborative, in keeping with its constitutional desire and remit to encourage new and younger voices the ‘Poetry Army’ emerged. Scars of poets and performers both experienced and less so, joined that army to deliver the fine verse from ‘the greats’ to create a 50 minute celebration of the poetry and words that have changed the world for the better. Music played an important part too, underscoring this landscape. As the show became harder-edged and more focused it was renamed; ‘Poetry can Fuck off’, a play on words, focusing on that verse that has got under the skin and fucked off those in power, who abuse their power.
Five years of touring saw the combination of this work which was now a five-piece, with Brainfruit being awarded the ‘Best Ensemble production’ at the Wellington Fringe. Towards the end of Poetry can Fuck off’s tour the piece expanded exponentially, choirs became involved, first a 20 piece choir at Brighton’s Fringe and then a 40 piece choir in Sheffield at the Crucible Studio. This new development became The Big Song, a celebration of how songs have changed the world. An investigation into ‘why do people sing?’ why do people join together to harmonise and express themselves in music? In May 2017 The Big Song was performed at Brighton Dome, this time Hutchins narrated alongside the 100 piece choir, this was to be Williams’s last major poem before his death before his death in July 2017.
Brainfruit continues to make work, to ensure the legacy of its founding member and its major source of inspiration and support continue. Teams of writers, performers and directors, have grown in confidence through the creative and supportive network that Brainfruit has become and in October 2018 Bear North emerged, a joyful utopian vision of what life could be like if we all had the time to properly love, listen and nurture each other. Find out more about our new show Bear North here.