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Latitude: Act bookers’ pick of the stages at this year’s festival

Sylvan Esso, performing at this year's Latitude Festival. Photo: Contributed

Sylvan Esso, performing at this year's Latitude Festival. Photo: Contributed


With more than 750 acts covering music, the arts and activities for kids spread across 15 different stages, the choice of what to see and do at Latitude Festival today to Sunday can be bewildering.

Film director Amma Asante. Photo: Hazel Thompson Film director Amma Asante. Photo: Hazel Thompson

Lucy Wood, who’s taken over curating the music stages at this year’s Latitude, now in its 12th year at Henham Park, near Soouthwold, wishes she could see everyone.

“We’ve got stuff ranging from the anthemic folk rock of Mumford and Sons [Obelisk Arena, Saturday, July 15, 9.30pm-11pm], absolutely huge; down to maybe electronic soundscapes like Max Cooper [Sunrise Arena, Friday, July 14, 8.40pm-9.40pm] with amazing visuals as well.

“Then there’s Loyle Carner [Sunrise Arena, Saturday, July 15, 7.10pm-8pm], a rapper and jazz artist from South London who’s really amazing; he went down a storm last year. Then maybe Sylvan Esso [Sunrise Arena, Saturday, July 15, 7.10pm-8pm] for some more electronic upbeat music for a bit of a dance.

“I feel so inspired from just having seen Lucy Rose [Obelisk Arena, Saturday, July 15, 2.10pm-3.10pm] that I want to say her. Leon Bridges [Obelisk Arena, Saturday, July 15, 8pm-9pm] because that’s a genre I haven’t really covered; he’s the most amazing soul artist. It’s just mind-boggling to me that he’s as young as he is, he’s got such an old soul and amazing musical chops.”

DollyWould, the latest show from Sh!t Theatre, visits this year's Latitude Festival. Photo: Contributed DollyWould, the latest show from Sh!t Theatre, visits this year's Latitude Festival. Photo: Contributed

Even Tania Harrison, who looks after arts and comedy for the festival, now in its 12th year at Henham Park, near Southwold, struggles when it comes to what to see.

“Hot Brown Honey [Theatre Arena, Thursday, July 13, 10pm-11.15pm] are coming over from Australia, it’s an incredible show. It’s a revolutionary theatrical piece about the power of the people but it’s really feelgood, very uplifting and great fun.”

Another socially relevant show is The Negro Problem: Notes of a Native Song [Theatre Arena, Saturday, July 15, 4pm-5.15pm; Sunday, July 16, 5.15pm-6.30pm].

“It’s based around Black Lives Matter and the documentary I Am Not Your Negro about playwright, novelist and essayist James Baldwin. Based on his writings, Obie award-winning playwright and singer-songwriter Stew and his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald have turned it into music. It’s a wonderful show and a big sell-out in New York.”

Youngsters will love School of Noise at this year's Latitude Festival. Photo: Contributed Youngsters will love School of Noise at this year's Latitude Festival. Photo: Contributed

Tania’s also looking forward to hearing film director Amma Asante in conversation with Mark Kermode [Music and Film Arena, Sunday, July 16, 12.05pm-1pm]. Her last film was A United Kingdom which tells the story of how, in the 1940s, Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana shocked the world by marrying a white woman from London. Her latest, Where Hands Touch, is a romantic drama centered on a mixed-race German girl and an SS officer during the Second World War.

“I think what’s really interesting about those, and what’s really interesting about Latitude, is you get these incredible artists and makers coming to talk about what they’re doing - it’s not just being entertained it’s hearing what makes somebody want to make work. I think there’s a real change in the films being made and it feels quite exciting.”

Clod Ensemble’s On The High Road [Theatre Arena, Friday, July 14, 5.30pm-6.15pm] is another pick. Known for original visual theatre, it sees a disparate group forced to seek refuge under the same roof after getting caught in a storm.

For her final choice Tania dallys with Benjamin Zephaniah and The Revolutionary Minds [Music and Film Arena, Saturday, July 15, 2.30pm-3.30pm] but plumps for Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould [The Cabaret Theatre, Saturday, July 15, 12.45pm-1.45pm] about Dolly Parton and Dolly the cloned sheep. “They’re a really interesting company and quite exciting. This is a new work and I absolutely love it. It’s great fun and the festival’s not only about learning and exploring things it’s also about just enjoying yourself.”

Latitude is for all ages, with a range of activities in the Kids and Inbetweeners Areas and the Enchanted Garden overseen by Sharon Reuben.

She’s particularly excited that Chicken House Books’ MG Leonard, James Nicol and Kiran Millwood Hargrave, whose The Girl of Ink and Stars was Waterstones’ children’s book of the year will be staging activities.

“We’re doing quite a lot of stuff around authors and author workshops because they’ve proved so popular over the years,” says Sharon, looking forward to events in The Enchanted Garden with the Museum of London returning with its past detectives event where you can find, sort and investigate real Roman artefacts.

There’s access to music showcasing local talent in the Inbetweener’s Area with Cultureworks, a team from Norwich’s John Innes Centre in the wild science tent doing stuff with leafcutter ants while The School of Noise teaches kids how sound and noise are created and how to build mini synthesizers.

“Then there’s Splat Anatomy. It’s like a giant human operation game. I think those will be a real highlight. The Bo Nanafana Sunday Social was so much fun last year. It’s live music, comedy... Everyone gets glittered up and it’s very much about the whole family coming together - people singing along, kids dancing.

“We’re still really trying to do something new every year, bring in some exciting stuff. We’ve got Okido World, a lovely arts and science magazine for children doing different activities based around specific themes so loads as usual.”

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