Latitude Festival programmers share their 2015 highlights
With Latitude Festival only days away, entertainment writer Wayne Savage asks the stage programmers and festival founder Melvin Benn what they’re excited to see.
“Everything in a way,” says festival founder Melvin Benn when I ask what he’s looking forward to most.
“Musically it all interests and excites me. There’s a day on the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage that’s got Jon Hopkins headlining, Public Service Broadcasting and King Creosote on the same day. For me that’s an incredible day. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea by any means, it’s not the most commericial stage on that day but for me that’s a perfect day.
“Seeing alt-J, who started here at the festival; they’ve worked their way up, they’re a headliner. Portishead I’ve wanted to headline the festival for a long, long time, that’s a delight that they are. Then Noel Gallagher’s a huge superstar and I think he’ll storm that Sunday night, that’ll be a great set.”
Speaking of music.
Working around artists availability to make your line-up unique, trusting your gut on what’s going to work and what isn’t and running with that’s the challenge laughs Natasha Haddad, who programmes the festival’s music arenas.
“I’m going with Jon Hopkins who’s headlining the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage Friday night. He’s played here before and is bringing his Immunity show to the festival. I’ve seen the show five times just in the last year, I love him. He’s incredible, super intelligent and his writing shows it - and he’s got a really fun show. So that’s for dance.
“I’d recommend Portishead for obvious reasons, everybody’s been wanting them for years including this festival and definitely me so that’s just a non-misser.”
Next is King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard.
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“They’re kind of like a garage band from New Zealand and they’re just crazy to watch. They’re super energetic, all over the place; I expect the audience to be jumping on one another.”
She may have scrubbed Portishead off her wish list; but there are plenty more names on it. None of which Natasha will share.
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“I can’t tell you otherwise someone else might take my ideas,” she laughs. “It fluctuates every year. There are five or six core acts we go back to, then there are load of fringe artists you wouldn’t necessarily think ‘oh, that’s what she’s been trying to get for 10 years’ but I think would work brilliantly at the festival. I’ll keep trying, first thing every year when I start again.”
For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse is a theme running through this year’s 13 arts arenas. It’s a concept shaped by the debates about the Scottish Referendum, affordable housing, marriage, partnerships, mental health, social media.
“Each year it grows in concept and ideas,” says Tania Harrison, who curates them.
“It’s having the balance of intellectual curiosity, engagement, but also having fun elements so people can play. Latitude audiences are quite fabulous, they’re really interested in so many things. That makes it hard - you can’t just chuck anything in, it has to be very well thought out,” she laughs.
Tania says this year’s theatre programme is really strong, especially in The Little House, a theatrical studio space in the Faraway Forest introduced last year that offers the chance to see big theatre companies and exciting new talent in an exclusive, intimate setting.
“Theatre is always moving, changing and responding to what’s occurring and it’s a small space but it’s got the most incredible creative works in. I’m really proud of the main theatre arena this year too.”
Personally, she really wants to see bespoke show Action Hero: Wrecking Ball which is a story about a male photographer and a female celebrity in a conversation about consent, authorship and putting words in other people’s mouths.
“There’s Frantic Assembly’s Ignition Company with Man Up (a physical and unfiltered take on the pressures of being a young man today) in the theatre arena. Of course Kneehigh and their new theatre show (946, a tale of war, prejudice and love) from Michael Morpurgo and directed by Emma Rice who’s going to Shakespeare’s Globe... Also a little bit of yoga and a cocktail bar and swimming in the lake,” she smiles.
Latitude isn’t just for adults.
The festival’s inbetweener area for ages 12 up is a huge deal for Sharon Reuben this year, who programmes it and the kids’ and family areas.
“The amount of high quality activities there is way beyond anything that’s been done by any festival in the country, so my advice is if you’re here for the whole weekend get down there on Thursday from 5pm because they’re actually open to talk people through the programme to let people start to book.”
There’s plenty to do in the kids’ area too.
“Comedian David O’Doherty is doing a piece from one of his children’s books, so it’s going to be really great to have him, I’m very excited about that. The Enchanted Garden is our activity area up in the family campsite that has expanded again this year. We’ve got everything from drama workshops, the arts award breakfast club which has got human beatboxing, music production all sorts of stuff.” so you know if people are in the family campsite, there’s early morning activities there so it’s really nice.
Sharon views all three areas as a condensed version of the whole festival, comprising theatre, art, crafts, film...
“Kids are so different. Some will want to do big rough and tumble stuff, so part of the teen area is run by Greenpeace where they have the zip wires, climbing nets, bushcraft activities and survival skills... Others want to do something more creative, they want to spend three hours learning digital animation, we’ve got a new DJ academy, . screen printing, working with willow... You really want to have something for all kind of levels of interest.