Features Published 18 June 2011

Latitude Festival Preview

The theatre lover’s festival of choice.

Lois Jeary

Over the past five years, in a leafy park in East Anglia populated by multi-coloured sheep, the Latitude Festival has been carving a niche for itself as the discerning theatre lover’s festival of choice. With the festival season dominated by the same, predictable line-ups on the music stages, this year Latitude will yet again offer something quite unique to audiences by giving them access to some of the best of British theatre.

London’s Gate, Bush and Lyric Theatres, the National Theatre of Scotland, Fuel and Paines Plough are among some of the companies in attendance, with the line-up boasting an unrivalled selection of theatre for a festival of it’s kind. For those who missed them the first time round, Latitude will also be a chance to catch plays like Louis de Berniere’s Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World (previously at Southwark Playhouse), Ella Hickson’s Hot Mess and 1927’s astonishing mix of live performance and animation, The Animals and Children Took To The Streets. In addition to these more established companies, emerging names will also be raising their profile at the festival, including new-writing company Hightide, presenting Andrew Motion’s debut play Incoming, and Theatre Uncut, who will reprise a selection of new plays penned as protest and debate on the politicians’ attack on the arts.

The line-up strikes a balance between conventionally staged performances and audience-led or site specific work, which will allow artists to capitalise on Latitude’s setting amongst hilly parkland dotted with forests and lakes, and make the most of the festival atmosphere. Tea Is An Evening Meal or Il Pixel Rosso’s And The Birds Fell From the Sky will give weary festival goers time to unwind and BAC’s The Loveliness Principle promises to take people on a most unexpected journey that will certainly benefit from the good vibes induced by too many ciders (while Bryony Kimmings will be exploring whether that intoxication aides creativity with her new one-woman show 7 Day Drunk).

Sadler’s Wells are returning to the festival to showcase highlights from their upcoming season, including ZooNation’s Some Like it Hip Hop – a frankly intriguing mix of the iconic film Some Like it Hot, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and hip-hop dance. The festival will also give audiences a chance to see highlights from the Tony Award winning FELA! which will open days later on Rosebery Avenue after its success at the National Theatre and on Broadway. With the likes of Alan Carr, Greg Davies and Mark Watson bringing their stand-up shows, and sketch group Lady Garden and the cast of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical appearing on the cabaret stage, Latitude audiences will also be able to take in some of television and radio’s finest and newest comedy talent.

The Film & Music Arena promises an intriguing selection of work, which further blurs the lines between artistic genres. BAFTA are using the festival as a venue for live discussion, while Shunt’s Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari will create a three-hour spectacle of music, visual art and performance based on Tate Britain’s Watercolour Exhibition. Following his performance in the Royal Court’s The Heretic, actor and musician Johnny Flynn and his band The Sussex Wit will be presenting a collaboration with film-makers set to the poetry of WB Yeats. It promises to be, perhaps, the ultimate example of Latitude’s continued and successful merging of the arts distilled in one single performance.

The 2011 Latitude Festival runs from the 14th-17th July at Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. Tickets and further information are available here: Latitude Festival


Lois Jeary

Lois holds an MA in Text and Performance, taught jointly between RADA and Birkbeck. In addition to directing and assistant directing for theatre, she also works as a freelance television news journalist for Reuters and has previously contributed to The Guardian.



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