What will you see at this year’s HighTide Festival?

HighTide in association with Traverse Theatre present In Fidelity by Rob Drummond

HighTide in association with Traverse Theatre present In Fidelity by Rob Drummond - Credit: Archant

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the HighTide Festival. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage takes a look at some of the highlights ahead of this week’s launch.

HighTide stages the world premiere of Girls at its 10th anniversary festival

HighTide stages the world premiere of Girls at its 10th anniversary festival - Credit: Archant

Spanning performances, music, visual arts, literature and talks, audiences will be treated to world premieres from new and established writers from September 8-18.

HighTide is one of the UK’s leading producers of new plays and one of the few professional theatres focused on the production of new playwrights. During the last decade it’s premiered more than 60 productions by now major playwrights such as Ella Hickson, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Nick Payne, Adam Brace, Beth Steel, Sam Holcroft, Luke Barnes, Vickie Donoghue, Anders Lustgarten, Jack Thorne and Joel Horwood.

This year’s festival includes four new commissions, including the world premiere of Theresa Ikoko’s Girls. The Alfred Fagon and George Devine award-winner, a co-production with Soho Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company, explores girlhood and friendship against the backdrop of extremism in Nigeria.

Elinor Cook’s Pilgrims, a co-production with Theatr Clwyd and Vicky Graham Productions, is another world premiere; a psychological battle of the sexes about ambition, colonialism and man’s impulse to conquer the world.

The Sugar-Coated Bullets Of The Bourgeoisie. Photo: Nobby Clark

The Sugar-Coated Bullets Of The Bourgeoisie. Photo: Nobby Clark - Credit: �Nobby Clark Photographer


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Rob Drummond’s In Fidelity, in association with Traverse Theatre Company, is described as equal parts inspirational presentation and theatrical experiment and combines a live on-stage date with evolutionary theory.

Anders Lustgarten’s The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, a co-production with the Arcola Theatre, charts the transformation of a rural Chinese village from the Communist revolution through to modern commercialism.

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The festival will also premiere The Path, a promenade production of seven short new plays created especially for its anniversary by Alumni Playwrights.

Drama lovers can enjoy readings of new plays, including The Brolly Project by Molly Taylor, a collaboration between Look Left Look Right, the Young Vic and HighTide. It will be performed by a group of people who either have been, or currently are, working in the sex industry. There’s also a new play by Olivier award nominee Matthew Dunster called Those Who Trespass and Pentabus present Simon Longman’s Light in Water.

The Path

The Path - Credit: Archant

HighTide’s successful talks programme Face to Face and The HighTide Symposium return.

Those taking part in the first include Alexi Kaye-Campbell, actors Elizabeth McGovern, Ben Miles, Olivier award-winner Celia Imrie and Eleanor Bron, theatre commentator Terri Paddock, former Daily Telegraph theatre critic Charles Spencer, Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington, playwright and Academy Award-winner Christopher Hampton, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper, the director of BBC One’s War and Peace.

The HighTide Symposium brings theatre experts together to explore and reflect on artistic trends, social and political shifts and the strengths and omissions in the new plays produced in British Theatre since HighTide’s first year a decade ago.

Also returning are HighTide Festival’s Soho Theatre comedy nights.

HighTide, Theatr Clwyd and Vicky Graham Productions present Pilgrims by Elinor Cook

HighTide, Theatr Clwyd and Vicky Graham Productions present Pilgrims by Elinor Cook - Credit: Archant

The line-up includes sequin-clad weirdos Bourgeois and Maurice, who bring their highly theatrical kaleidoscope of current affairs, moral confusion and social commentary in How to Save the World Without Really Trying. Acclaimed cartoonists of the mind, the surreal Pajama Men, bring a live, comic existential meltdown that takes place as two comedians attempt to stage an epic, historical, romance novel in less than an hour.

BAFTA-nominated star Spencer Jones presents Spencer Jones is The Herbert in Eggy Bagel, a mix of visual, prop, clown and homemade musical comedy while 2015 Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Nish Kumar performs Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud; a comedy show about history, democracy and capitalism.

See arts editor Andrew Clarke’s chat with festival founder and artistic director Steven Atkinson online. Click here for what’s showing where in Aldeburgh and when.

Elinor Cook. Photo: Richard Davenport

Elinor Cook. Photo: Richard Davenport - Credit: Archant

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