Latitude 2018: Shining a light on the arts stages this World Theatre Day
- Credit: Archant
Few things have the power to inspire, provoke, comfort, challenge or transport you like theatre. As part of World Theatre Day, we spoke to Latitude Festival’s arts curator Tania Harrison.
Theatre is a remarkable genre for reflecting how we feel personally, politically; or to sate our wont to escape the real world for a few hours at least.
“It can transport you to another world, it can take you home,” says Tania, looking forward to a little rest over Easter from sorting the arts content for this year’s Latitude Festival, which returns to Henham Park, near Southwold, July 12-15.
“Theatre is celebrated throughout the rest of the year, it’s just like our very own birthday - sometimes it’s great to shine a spotlight on something and theatre is a great thing for us all to look at.”
There’ll be plenty of chance to do that at this year’s event, where you’ll come across theatre as much as you will music. Tania likens wandering around the site like climbing to the top of The Magic Faraway Tree, where you can keep venturing into different lands.
“It’s really wonderful to have such a range of the arts all in one weekend... music festivals have come a long way, festivals as a whole embrace the whole arts spectrum and provide brilliant experiences for people. At Latitude we really want to celebrate all of the arts and bring in new ideas, new art forms and it’s wonderful you can pop down a rabbit hole and find something quite extraordinary.
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“Whether that’s ballet, contemporary dance or hip hop on the Waterfront to the tiny theatre shows you’re experiencing one-on-one throughout the Faraway Forest; or pop up theatre or gig theatre.”
Gig theatre, she says, is really big right now with people embracing multi-faceted art forms.
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“So many people go to music shows, go to the theatre, go to dance shows; it’s a natural evolution those forms would cross over. We love staging all those exciting collaborations and this year is no exception.”
The crossover genre features heavily at this year’s festival.
Highrise’s Lil.Miss.Lady is a fresh concept-rave exploring the history of grime music, through the eyes of a vigorous female MC. Inspired by interviews with influential players on the scene including MCs, DJs, promoters and journalists it holds a bass-fuelled microscope over the biggest sub-culture since punk rock in the 80s.
Nabokov presents Benin City - Last Night. In 2016, the historic nightclub and concert venue Passing Clouds was unceremoniously shut down after 10 years. Fabric almost suffered a similar fate. According to the mayor’s office, over the past five years the number of nightclubs across all of London’s 33 local authorities has decreased by 50%.
Last Night is a boundary-pushing spoken word and music experience from the critically acclaimed band Benin City, produced by cross-art form company Nabokov. Featuring original music from Benin City’s second album, it’s performed live alongside poetry and audio interviews from London dwellers – DJs, property developers, barmen and, of course, the ravers; presenting a rhythmic snapshot of the city’s fading scene.
Middle Child’s One Life Stand is a late-night search for intimacy across a hyperconnected and hypersexualised city, exposing the loneliness found inside modern relationships where the expectations of lust and the limits of love are ever changing.
“We’re combining with local community groups to create new and informed theatre plus you have all the big spectacles like the gorgeous Recirquel Contemporary Circus’ Paris De Nuit which is a really decadent and beautiful show on Friday and Saturday.”
Taking its audience into the roaring variety life of the voluptuous desires and beauty filled 1930, it reveals illusionary moments from the lives of prostitutes and peddlers, down and outs and illicit lovers who lived on the edges of society. An evening of lust, love and loneliness inspired by the characteristic world of the famous Hungarian photographer, Brassaï it features circus artists, dancers and musicians.
When it comes to selecting shows, Tania transports her mind into the festival fields.
“It is (about) what’s relevant in the world but I try to think about what everybody’s doing and how they’re feeling every moment during the festival. Do you want to be inspired, provoked, comforted? That’s the beauty of theatre; it has the ability to make you see something from a different perspective.
“I’m seeing so many shows at the moment. You just think ‘they’re going to love this’. One way or another it has to feel like it has something very special.”
Other shows to look out for include Suffragedon, hailed as the UK’s answer to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. It’s the story of British women then, told by British women now through the revolutionary beats of hip hop.
Making its UK premiere is Mark And Marichka Marczyk’s Balaklava Blues, a new concert-theatre performance about contemporary Ukraine. Meeting and fell in love during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv, they explore the historical and cultural forces that shape today’s Ukraine and have led to the ongoing war in the country’s east. It’s told through folk music in electronic mixes, archival and current video footage and communist cartoons.
Tongue in cheek pop opera Nele Needs A Holiday: The Musical sees a Belgian popstar move to London to steal the job of British popstars.
Meanwhile, work in progress No Kids is a personal exploration by real-life couple and co-artistic directors of Theatre Ad Infinitum, Nir Paldi and George Mann, who ask as a gay couple, should they go out of their way to reproduce? Using physical theatre, cabaret and verbatim stories they explore their personal histories, why so many of us feel driven to have children and the environmental impact of choosing to bring a child into the world.