Latitude is about way more than just the music: The Killers, Alt-J and Solange are joined by a variety of multi-disciplinary performances, programmed throughout the weekend, across what is Britain’s strongest festival bill for live performance.
The stages at Henham Park, Suffolk, have built a reputation for hosting an eclectic theatre schedule since the Royal Court first performed at the festival in 2006. The impressive theatre scheduling means Latitude punters are likely to turn away from the mosh pit in favour of immersive, thought-provoking theatre.
“It is (the festival is about) what’s relevant in the world”, explained Latitude’s Arts Curator Tania Harrison to the East Anglian Times.
“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”.
Previous years have seen performances from the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre, and have also hosted shows that have not shied away from making political statements under the serene canopies of the Latitude festival site.
2017 saw Traverse Theatre’s piece Locker Room Talk draw inspiration from Trump’s infamous boast in an immersive and uncomfortable performance, whilst Donald-dissing drag queens roamed the site throughout the weekend.
This year’s theatre line-up includes the headlining spectacle Recirquel Contemporary Circus, the debut of Suffrogedon the Musical and a preview of Ad Infinitum’s No Kids, which will see its premiere at The Edinburgh Fringe in August.
“I love spotting new talent, I think it’s one of Latitude’s strengths”, Harrison told the Daily Mail. “I have 340 shows to book each year, the equivalent of 17 days’ worth of the arts to pack into one weekend. I’m constantly thinking about what to put on, scouting talent and watching shows”.
Among the new talent is brand new company Pecho Mama, who are performing their retelling of the Greek tragedy Medea through an electronic music and theatre performance.
Harrison explained how hybrid genres are becoming increasingly popular, with Latitude showcasing a number of gig-theatre performances this year.
“So many people go to music shows, go to the theatre, go to dance shows; it’s a natural evolution that those forms would cross over. We love staging all those exciting collaborations and this year is no exception.”
An example of this cross-over genre is the return of Lil.Miss.Lady, who are debuting their rave-theatre piece, Highrise, which explores the history of grime music.
Perhaps one of the most buzzed about shows at this year’s festival is the debut of Suffrageddon, a musical drawing inspiration from hip-hop which has been dubbed as the “British Hamilton”.
A glimpse of the musical was seen earlier this year at the London Palladium and has since been a part of a crowdfunding campaign to bring the full performance the stage. Commissioned by Deborah Francis White, the piece uses hip-hop to retell the suffragette story that often excludes women of colour.
Francis White explained to The Standard: “The suffragettes were almost all white, and women of colour were structurally excluded so we… wanted to do something to address that fact for the centenary”.
Other thought-provoking shows include Ad Infinitum’s No Kids, a gender-bending musical cabaret that asks whether society is truly ready to accept the notion of a child having two Dads.
Based on the personal lives of the show’s creators and real-life couple, Nir Paldi and George Mann, The Scotsman stated that “this is a show that will steal your heart”
With Ad Infinitum previewing the performance at Latitude ahead of its premiere at the Fringe, audiences are encouraged to give feedback at the end of the work-in-progress showing.
Latitude isn’t without its high-production, spectacle performances either. Festival-goers can enjoy a daring circus show Paris De Nuit, performed by the world acclaimed company Recirquel Contemporary Circus, as well as Lyric Hammersmith’s “most ambitious musical yet”, How to Fail at Being Perfect, which celebrates the theatre’s tenth year at the festival. Words by James Page
Latitude festival runs from 12-15 July | Get tickets