Steven Atkinson, Artistic Director, has today announced HighTide’s season of new plays for their 10th anniversary year. Internationally renowned for discovering new playwrights and producing new plays, HighTide Festival 2016 will include four brand new commissions: Anders Lustgarten’s epic The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie which charts the transformation of a rural Chinese village from the Communist revolution through to modern commercialism directed by Steven Atkinson; Girls, exploring girlhood and enduring friendship against the backdrop of extremism in Nigeria, written by Theresa Ikoko and directed by Elayce Ismail (JP Morgan Award, National Theatre); Elinor Cook’s Pilgrims, a psychological battle of the sexes about ambition, colonialism and man’s impulse to conquer the world directed by Tamara Harvey, and In Fidelity, equal parts inspirational presentation and theatrical experiment, combining a live on-stage date with evolutionary theory written by Rob Drummond and directed by Steven Atkinson.
The Festival will also premiere The Path, a promenade production of eight short new plays created especially for HighTide’s anniversary by HighTide Alumni Playwrights and directed by Jude Christian (Lela & Co, Royal Court). The 10th Anniversary season also includes Al Smith’s Harrogate at the Royal Court Theatre, transferring from HighTide Festival 2015, and the sixth production of this special anniversary year will be announced this summer.
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Steven Atkinson said: “We’re thrilled to be producing such a range of plays and playwrights in our 10th anniversary year. I loved Rob Drummond’s Bullet Catch, and I’m excited to be directing his follow up project. We’re welcoming back two great writers, Anders Lustgarten and Elinor Cook with ambitious new plays. And Girls is a stunning debuet play by Theresa Ikoko and I’m proud that HighTide can launch her career. We’re lucky to be presenting our writers in partnership with a number of brilliant theatres: the Traverse, Soho Theatre, Talawa, Theatr Clwyd, Vicky Graham Productions, the Royal Court, House and the Arcola Theatre.”
HighTide and Arcola Theatre will present Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, reuniting Harold Pinter Prize Award winner Anders Lustgarten (Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre and If You Don’t Let Us Dream We Won’t Let You Sleep) and HighTide Artistic Director Steven Atkinson (Forget Me Not, So Here We Are and peddling) after their acclaimed production Lampedusa in 2015. Urgent and timely, the play explores the lives of the Chinese people in two eras; during the rise of Maoist China, and in 2016, an increasingly diverse, volatile, $11 Trillion economy on the precipice of change. The production’s 8-strong cast of British East Asian actors includes Andrew Leung (Chimerica, You For Me For You) and Anna Leong Brophy (P’yongyang). Revolution has stirred, China has stood up and Communism reaches Rotten Peach Village. Over the next sixty years, the villagers are battered by the waves of New China, lurching from the extremes of Maoism to the extremes of Capitalism. Yet amid all the change and turmoil, one thing does not alter: their willingness to fight. The production will run at Arcola Theatre between 7-30 April before opening at HighTide Festival in September.
HighTide, Soho Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company will present Girls by Theresa Ikoko. Following the staged reading of Normal at HighTide Festival 2015, Talawa Writers’ Programme playwright Theresa Ikoko returns to HighTide with her debut production Girls – Soho Theatre Verity Bargate Award finalist and winner of the Alfred Fagon Award 2015. Tisana, Ruhab and Haleema are normal girls with a lot to say about family, faith, the world, growing up, their bodies, other people’s bodies. One is Christian, one Muslim, and one doesn’t really know any more. Captive in a world of dust and gunfire they’ve got plenty of time to talk. They’ve been kidnapped by Boko Haram. Directed by Elayce Ismail (The Rise and Shine of Comrade Fiasco), this funny, explosive and passionate new play will have its world premiere at HighTide Festival followed by its London premiere at Soho Theatre this Autumn.
HighTide, Theatr Clwyd and Vicky Graham Productions will present Pilgrims by Elinor Cook (Image of an Unknown Woman) who returns to HighTide after her debut production in 2014. Pilgrims, a play about adventure and betrayal, directed by Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd Tamara Harvey (Kreutzer V.S Kreutzer, From Here to Eternity, Pride & Prejudice), explores man’s impulse to conquer the world. ‘You just want to stick flags on virgin territory and claim it as your own.’ Dan and Will climb mountains. They long for the next big challenge, for the rush of discovering something new. When they climbed Everest aged 18 they became legends. Rachel studies folklore. She prefers people to adventures. She thinks the world can be ruined by discovery, and people are always lost in the process.
HighTide in association with Traverse Theatre Company will present In Fidelity by Rob Drummond (Bullet Catch) who makes his HighTide debut, directed by Steven Atkinson. Equal parts inspirational presentation and theatrical experiment, the production will combine a live on-stage date with evolutionary theory in a search for and celebration of love. This September marks the fifteen year anniversary of Rob and Lucy’s very first date. What better way to mark this milestone than to create a show all about love? As part of his research Rob underwent an MRI scan. His ventromedial prefrontal cortex surged when looking at a picture of his wife. However, it also surged while looking at other pictures. The production will run at the Traverse Theatre in August before HighTide in September.
HighTide will also present a unique production to celebrate HighTide’s 10th year created by eight HighTide writers who have each been resident in HighTide’s home town Aldeburgh throughout 2016. The Path, composed of eight short plays designed to be listened to through headsets in locations throughout the town, will give life to secret histories in Aldeburgh, both real and imagined. The writers, representative of a decade of extraordinary literary talent working at HighTide, include: Luke Barnes, Adam Brace, E V Crowe, Vickie Donoghue, Thomas Eccleshare, Ella Hickson, Harry Melling and Vinay Patel. In the 18th century, Aldeburgh, then a decaying seaport, gave way to titled families. The smugglers were moved on, superior houses and the iconic town steps were built and new pathways were created. Then the tourists came, and with them centuries of comings and goings concerning all types of affairs.
The HighTide Festival 2016 programme also includes: readings of new plays, including The Brolly Project by Molly Taylor, a collaboration between Look Left Look Right, the Young Vic, and HighTide that is performed by a group of women, men and transgender people, all of whom have experience of working in the sex industry; a new play by Olivier Award nominee Matthew Dunster called Those Who Trespass; and Pentabus present Light in Water by Simon Longman, directed by Elizabeth Freestone. The St James Theatre will present a cabaret programme, Soho Theatre will present a cabaret programme, and HighTide will host eight Face to Face Talks with established artists. The Face to Face Talks and Comedy programme lineup will be announced in June.
In October 2016 the Royal Court Theatre, house, and HighTide will present the acclaimed HighTide production of Al Smith’s Harrogate in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre before undertaking a national tour. Smith’s hit play is directed by Royal Court Associate Director (International) Richard Twyman and premiered at HighTide Festival 2015. It tells the story of a father struggling to confront his obsessions head-on without destroying his family. The play explores how we perform versions of ourselves depending on what company we keep, and how we project onto others versions of the people we want to see. From lover, to father, to husband, one man craves the past – but knows his desire for it will destroy his family. ‘Each one of us is gonna sit down one day and not be able to stand up, like we’ve disappeared to ourselves.’ Press Night will be on Monday 24 October.
The HighTide Festival 2016 brochure can be accessed online here and contains full listings of other events and readings at the festival. Further programming is still to be announced.