While festival-goers may be worried about the mud, for artists performing at the Latitude Festival 2011, the fluctuating weather gives a whole new set of concerns.
For Sadlers Wells, performing a number of pieces on the open-air Waterfront Stage, the climate conditions take on a more pressing need. Emma Gladstone, producer and programmer for Sadlers Wells has just had to take the difficult decision to cancel the days scheduled performances.
Rain for most of the day has left the Waterfront Stage too wet for dancers to safely perform but, as Emma explains it’s more that just a wet stage to consider.
“One of the difficulties is the ability for the dancers to be able to warm up for the performance, the dressing room is in a wooden cabin up the hill and, in this cool weather, it is difficult for the performers to remain warm.”
As we speak, a team of stage managers are frantically mopping the stage as the skies clear and the rain stops in an attempt for the rest of the day’s dance programme to take place. But, as Emma explains, even with their best efforts, it is often a risky affair to perform in the open air.
“I’ve often watched performances with my heart in my mouth; a couple of years ago we performed a 15 minute piece that eventually took over three hours to complete do to numerous rain breaks.”
Despite the challenges of the weather, for Emma the Waterfront Stage and Latitude in general is a vital showcase for Sadlers Wells.
“Despite the challenges of the vagaries of the weather, I love making art outside of theatres; the location of the Waterfront Stage here at Latitude has an ideal aesthetic setting and the fact that people walk past and stop to watch dance is a great way to showcase our work.”
Emma is keen that the programme of work from Sadlers wells gives festival goers a taste of the spectrum of work the company offers.
“By having a range of artists appear at Latitude shows the range of work Sadlers Wells produces. Some people still think of us a ballet company but Latitude gives us the opportunity to showcase the range of work we do.”
As we talk the rain continues to drizzle but stage managers are frantically mopping the stage in a hope to save English National Ballet’s performance later in the day. For Emma thought thoughts are already turning to Sunday and the next round of work she is offering Latitude. With the forecast looking more positive than first thought it’s a slightly more optimistic prospect but you can never tell with the British weather. Emma is already juggling the schedule in her mind to try and ensure she gets the best out of their slot on the Waterfront stage. With Zoo Nation, Tommi Kitti and the cast of the award winning musical Fela due on stage.
Weather issues are Latitude are nothing new for Emma.
“This is our fourth year at Latitude and I tend to lose on average about one show per festival.”
However surprising it may seem on a damp day in Henham Park, it is not always rain that causes problems.
“Last year it was actually too hot and one of my dancers had to stop dancing as they burnt their feet on the stage!”
— 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.