When a theatre new writing festival was first announced, based in Halesworth, a small Suffolk market town, some outside the region thought it was doomed to fail. Suffolk and East Anglia as a whole, though, have a strong tradition of creating art and now the HighTide Festival has grown to become one of the country’s major events on the theatrical calendar. Organisers have just announced the programme for the sixth Festival, taking place in Halesworth this May.
It’s an impressive programme, including 18 World or European premieres alongside a range of support events. The organisation has a history of taking productions onto a further life after their Halesworth showing and this year is no exception, with productions touring to the Latitude and Edinburgh Festivals and the Soho Theatre.
Announcing the festival line up, Artistic Director Steven Akinson highlights the expansion of the season:
“These eighteen plays are a huge expansion from our historical four. They present a wide range of new writing, from full production to work in progress, and experimentations in form including promenade performances and audio headset productions.”
Highlights of the Festival include the European premiere of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and the world premiere of Ella Hickson’s new play, Boys.
There is also a strong cross Atlantic element to the Festival with HighTide working with New York’s Public Theater Emerging Writers Group to present a series of new American plays. Local writers, though, are also represented at the Festival with readings of new plays from East Anglian writers over coffee and brunch.
This year, HighTide is also hosting an all-day symposium on the state of new writing in the UK, a partnership with the University of East Anglia, the British Theatre Consortium and the Central School of Speech And Drama. Looking at the changing way new writers are developed, this looks to be a vital discussion for anyone interested in championing new writing.
Post-show talks and a series of talks from industry experts supplement the Festival with a full line up of speakers still to be announced.
The sixth HighTide Festival will take place in Halesworth from 5-13 May and full details can be found online at