Halesworth: Theatre festival rides the hightide

HighTide bar at The Cut, Halesworth

HighTide bar at The Cut, Halesworth - Credit: Archant

SUFFOLK’S leading theatre festival for new plays has unveiled its most ambitious line-up yet.

The Cut Arts Centre, Halesworth, home of the HighTide Festival

The Cut Arts Centre, Halesworth, home of the HighTide Festival - Credit: Archant

This year’s HighTide Festival in Halesworth has announced that audiences will be able to see 45 new productions during the 10- day festival.

These will be showcased over more than 80 performances.

The festival’s artistic director Steven Atkinson said that this year they have increased the number of homegrown plays from three to five as well as introducing performances from visiting companies and a music and comedy strand. There will also be an onstage interview with Notting Hill and Hyde Park on the Hudson director Roger Michell.

“We are always looking at ways of keeping fresh and introducing new ideas while maintaining the quality.” He said that during the seven years HighTide has been running it has built up a strong reputation for quality.

“Mudlarks did very well for us last year, winning all sorts of awards, and Bottleneck, which started life as work in progress at last year’s festival, went on to win rave reviews at Edinburgh and is back this year as a polished piece of work.

“Audiences will be able to see the large number of changes which the production team and writer Luke Barnes made to the play as a result of the work we did with it at last year’s festival. It’s fascinating to see how a play evolves.”

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He said that HighTide has gained such a reputation for quality and reliability that London theatres like the Soho Theatre and the Bush Theatre are now booking festival plays before they receive their premiere in Halesworth.

“What is important is that the plays have a life beyond the festival – that they go to the Edinburgh Festival, that they are staged in leading London theatres like the Soho and the Bush – but equally importantly that they start their life here in Suffolk and local audiences get to see them first.”

This year’s plays are: Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Steven Atkinson – a wildly theatrical comedy which attracted controversy in New York by having black actors wear blackface make-up as Kentucky minstrels; Pastoral by Thomas Eccleshare – described as surreal and hilarious, starring Anna Calder-Marshall, directed by Steve Marmion, artistic director of Soho Theatre; Smallholding by Chris Dunkley – a comic love story about bio-diversity farming, directed by Patrick Sandford, artistic director of Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, starring Chris New; Moth by Declan Greene – a haunting black comedy about what it means to be young, directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah; and Bottleneck by Luke Barnes, a vibrant coming of age story about becoming a man, directed by Steven Atkinson.

Visiting companies include Eastern Angles staging a documentary play Parkway Dreams by resident festival playwright Kenneth Emson, PR guru Mark Borkowski presents his view of the public relations world in Adventure Capitalism, Michael Cole presents Chewing Gum Dreams about lost childhood innocence and withWINGS stages If Room Enough a very different interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

HighTide 2013 will be based at The Cut in Halesworth from May 2-12. Tickets are now on sale from the venue or online at www.hightide.org.uk

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