Video: With just weeks to go, Latitude Festival adds more names to its line-up
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Latitude Festival director Melvin Benn admits the thought of combining literature, poetry, opera and theatre with a music festival seemed like a hair-brained idea.
Ten years on, it’s become one of the UK’s major festivals and, he adds, a template copied around the UK - even the world.
“I wanted to rewrite the rules and I think we have. The thought of children being so fundemental to the ethos of a festival was barely a thought, now we have perhaps the most impressive kids;’area of any festival and probably, uniquely, the only young teen focused area of any festival.
The thought of a full-table service restaurant at a festival would have been considered lunatic, yet we introduced it and now everyone else wants one too.”
More Latitude acts were announced today, with more expected Thursday.
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Among them were a host of Suffolk musicians including Izzy’s Daughter, Superglu and Frett who will perform on The Lake Stage; with Oliver Daldry and Cove Hithe playing The Alcove Stage. Other music additions included Ed Harcourt, who performed at the first Latitude and is putting together a special band exclusively for this year’s festival.
Hunt and Darton join the Cabaret Arena line-up with The Not So Great British Bake Off.
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“It’s a live art collaboration between myself and Jenny Hunt and we often create performances around food. We have a pop-up cafe that’s touring the country at the moment and this year we’re coming to Latitude with our twist on the popular TV programme, where we get participants to make a sugar sandwich in five minutes and then we judge it against ridiculous criteria in the hope of making sugar sandwiches mean more than what they normally mean,” laughs Holly Darton.
“We judge them against things like concept, utopia, sexiness, how humorous it is, its height, taste... It’s really good fun for all ages. We really like creating work that’s participatory and interactive and food is a great way to get involved.
“You can also buy a three-course meal of performance, not for consumption, and Hunt and Darton are delivered to you on a trolley and we’ll perform your three courses for you. We always love Latitude, how much art there is as well as music and there’s a lot of the live art community there.”
Taking the challenge ourselves, headed by writer, actor and comedian Keith Allen our team’s defeat will echo throughout time.
Joining them in the arena will be fellow launch attendees Elle and The Pocket Belles with their swinging twists on contemporary hits as well as classic jazz and swing numbers from the 1930s-1950s.
There were additions to the Literary Arena too.
The New Statesman’s contributing writer and Guardian columnist Owen Jones will be joined by a panel discussing austerity, inequality and aspiration in The Politics of Hope. Medical doctor and neuroscience researcher Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones will be in discussion with Reasons to Stay Alive author Matt Haig and writer and broadcaster Richard Mabey. Happily Ever After features Richard Curtis, professor John Mullan and Kate Mosse.
Stand-up poet, playwright and satirist Murray Lachlan Young will perform some of his new material in the Poetry Arena. He’ll be joined by poet Johnathan Edwards and spoken word artist Patrick Cash.
The Wellcome Trust Hub hosts a series of discussions, debates and performances on subjects ranging from creativity and depression to the multi-sensory perception of flavour and consciousness.
Added to The Faraway Forest is Home Live Art, a company of creative producers working in live art and performance and focusing on audience participation and public interaction. Also appearing in the forest will be The Tump Suit Pitch, an anarcho-folk, drag, song and dance spectacle addressing environmental issues and the absurdity of contemporary competitive culture.
Live Art House returns, featuring the best in collaborative art and theatre. The Shed of Stories Arena will play host to a mix of bestselling authors, ground-breaking artists and speakers.
Foodies will be happy to hear Justin Gilbert and Clive Watson, behind Blixen Restaurant in Old Spitalfield’s Market, will give festival-goers a taste of their all-day brasserie menu Blixen x Latitude.
You’ll also be able to swim in the lake for the first time this year with the more adventurous among you able to take part in a guided swim that lead you into the heart of Henham Park.
“It doesn’t seem much longer than a week ago we were stood here for the first time; it’s just incredible. Latitude has really just found its place in the world; it’s grown and become a hugely important part of the festival calandar that’s massively important to artists, the community, the local economy and the audience,” says Benn.
He was surprised how quickly it established itself as a major player on the festival circuit.
“And how quickly people began to copy it. That’s really when you know you’re getting there,” he laughs. “For me, it’s a joy with an arts programme that’s unsupassed and as least as good as the Edingbiugh Fringe. Although I had the idea and the will to start it I didn’t do it alone... It’s a huge team which has got us to our tenth edition; their excitement, their embracing of what the festival is has allowed it to step forward.”
Lending his support at today’s launch was Keith Allen, whose daughter Lily played Latitude last year. He brings his Establishment Club back to this year’s festival with guests Pere Ubu to Dirty Soul Rockers, the Hot Sprockets to Ruts DC, Thabo and the Real deal to Jack Flash and Allen’s own big band Grow Up.
“What I find very attractive about Latitude is there isn’t a backstage world which there is at most other major festivals, which is where people gravitate towards. There’s a kind of exclusivity about it, you’ve got to have the right passes to get in. There’s none of that (here), it’s all out there, it’s all transparatent. And I love the fact it’s so great for children.
“I love Latitude. Saturday night for me is a great one because I’ve got Pere Ubu playing. Interestingly enough, the guy who tortures my son in Game of Thrones - Iwan Rheon - his band’s playing; they’re very excited about that.”
This year sees the introduction of not only swimming in the lake but also the Solas holistic area, offering massages, yoga, hot-tubs, treatments and workshops. Benn confesses he was taken aback by the attention the addition of massages received last year; seemingly signifying its status as a festival for the middle classes.
“I was a little bit; we’ve brought it (treatments) in properly this year with the Solas area. I think people will embrace it... Latitude gets labelled with that middle class festival tag partly because of the intelligence of its curation and the intelligence of the audience.
“I think it’s almost inevitable it will have that and there’s no shame in that as far as I’m concerned because, actually, we’re trying to present a really cultured, intelligent, thinking fesitval - but not one that’s about rubbing your chin. It’s about challenging ideas and thoughts and being able to run off and watch Noel Gallagher go for it as well,” he laughs.
Latitude runs July 16-19 at Henham Park, Southwold. For more about today’s announcements click here.