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Normal? Festival of the Brain

This May Folkestone Quarterhouse turns its attention once again to the extraordinary workings of the brain.

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With co-curators Susanna Howard of Living Words, and Diane Dever of Folkestone Fringe, they have kept abreast of cutting-edge neurological research via health professionals, scientists and artists and consulted with people and local communities across Kent, so that the second Normal? Festival of the Brain brings together the latest developments in science and art over five days from Wednesday 25th to Sunday 29th May.

With the support of the Wellcome Trust People’s Award, this year’s festival has doubled in size and the scope of its enquiry encompasses dementia, autism, food, mood, the teenage brain, addiction and artificial intelligence. What happens when connections, chemicals and catastrophes send things off course and is there such a thing as normal?

Meet the performance artist whose stroke has led to a whole new way of making theatre and remembering her cues; the show about happiness based on self-help books, air-brushed lives and the work of self-proclaimed happiness gurus; the composer and singer whose new work is shot through with obsessive compulsive behaviour; and one woman’s attempt to conquer her depression through

One aim of the festival is to bring people together across generations. Based on real-life stories, The Archivists is a performance for schools and families set inside a brain trying to keep dementia at bay whilst it sorts through a lifetime of memories. The Girl and the Giraffe is a theatre show for 3 to 6 year olds about sadness, wellbeing and friendship told from a child’s perspective.

Alongside the arts, they have gathered eminent scientists and health professionals to talk about their particular area of expertise. Neonatologist Dr.Topun Austin will show his film about baby brain development; award-winning writer Nicola Morgan will share thoughts on the teenage brain;   substance misuse psychologist, Luke Mitcheson, will chair a panel discussion on addiction; and Ros Blackburn will give a first-hand account of living with severe autism.

A heady mix of art and science for the insatiably curious, Normal? Festival of the Brain is a pioneering combination of perspectives that aims to place Folkestone at the forefront of conversations about the brain, creativity and wellbeing.

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