It’s not just festival goers who are packing up their camping equipment ahead of this weekend’s Latitude Festival at Henham Park. Theatre companies are cramming in those vital last minute rehearsals to ensure everything is ‘all right on the night’.
For many companies, it is their first visit to Latitude and something to look forward to in a mix of excitement and slight trepidation.
One such newcomer is Clean Break Theatre Company, who are performing not one, but two plays at the Festival this year. Lucy Morrison, who is directing one of the plays to time out of last minute rehearsals to explain the appeal of performing at Latitude: “Often in theatre, especially with new writing, you can feel you are performing to an already committed audience. With a festival audience, who may be there for the music or comedy, there’s the chance to grab them and give them something new.”
Lucy also thinks the style of performance is important. “Festival theatre goers tend to prefer informal theatre, they get up late, grab a coffee and find a slice of theatre is a good way to engage the brain and start the day.”
There are, of course, challenges in performing in the festival environment but the challenges facing Clean Break are perhaps different from those you’d expect. “Our main challenge is the staging, these plays have been performed at the Soho Theatre but, at Latitude, the stage is huge in comparison. Although we’ve been rehearsing for the festival, we only get half an hour set up and rehearsal time on the day so decisions need to be quickly made.”
“Luckily we are not a very prop or set heavy company though, originally, my play did have characters entering via a trap door and so we’ve had to adapt that and use the new space, but it is an opportunity to break down the fourth wall and engage with the audience.”
For Lucy it will be a busy time at Latitude; not only is she directing one of the Clean Break plays, she will also be revisiting her contribution to the Theatre Uncut season of plays, performed originally earlier this year at the Southwark Playhouse. Theatre Uncut saw a series of playwrights commissioned to create a number of short plays in response to funding cuts in the arts. Lucy will be directing Lucy Kirkwood’s contribution to the series and, for Latitude, the author herself will be appearing.
Morrison hopes the piece will both stimulate thought but also entertain;
“This isn’t about banging audience’s over the head; it is political theatre but with a light touch. I hope it encourages people into fielding questions and not just taking the situation.”
Clean Break will be performing Dancing Bears and Fatal Light on Friday and Sunday in the Theatre Arena
Theatre Uncut will be staging their series of plays across Friday and Saturday in the Theatre Arena
— Glen Pearce — Follow Glen’s Latitude Tweets on Twitter @glenpearce1
Glen’s website blog: www.glenstheatreblog.com
Glen Pearce is based in Suffolk and his reviews focus on the vibrant arts scene in East Anglia but also cover frequent trips to London and beyond. On average he sees around 150 shows per year, from small scale fringe shows to major West End productions.
Glen trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has worked as a stage manager, lighting designer, box office, front of house, in theatre management and arts marketing. He has reviewed for the regional newspapers in East Anglia.
In addition to his own blog he also contributes to OneSuffolk, blogs for Arts Professional Magazine, contribute to UpTheWestEnd.com and is also the resident theatre critic for BBC Radio Suffolk’s Drive Time show.