Preview: Latitude 2009 – Theatre, Comedy and Poetry

To call Latitude a music festival is to only tell half the story.

Alongside a line-up that this year includes headline spots from the Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones and Nick Cave, not to mention a rare solo show from Thom Yorke on the Sunday afternoon, the Suffolk festival also showcases an array of other art forms including theatre, comedy, film, dance, cabaret and poetry.
In the theatre arena, the Bush will be following up last year’s audience-inspired 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover with a new show, Sudden Loss of Dignity. The playwrights Zawe Ashton, James Graham, Joel Horwood, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Michelle Terry will use material supplied by visitors to the website to create an array of short, potentially cringe-inducing play-lets with categories including ‘clothing malfunction’, ‘mistaken identity’ and ‘unexpected release of bodily fluids.’

Other productions worth investigating are Paines Plough’s Traces , nabokov’s Is Everyone OK?, a blurring of the line between theatre and stand-up, also by Horwood; and Simon Stephens & Tashan Cushnie’s Supernova which has been created especially for Latitude and is directed by the Lyric Hammersmith’s incoming artistic director Sean Holmes.

The National Theatre will be presenting Lucinda Coxon’s The Eternal Not and Theatre 503 will be displaying the results of their Urban Scrawl competition. Physical theatre company Tangled Feet will be presenting their award-winning show Home, Hoi Polloi’s Hugh Hughes will be staging new work as one of the Picks of the Plesance and Che Walker’s musical reinvention of his play Been So Long will also be there prior to its Edinburgh run.

Walker will also be doing a Write to Play event in the Literary Arena. Other authors on the bill include Tibor Fischer, whose latest novel was the gleefully loopy Miami-set satire, Good to be God; Book Slam maestro Patrick Neate; the appealingly idiosyncratic Geoff Dyer whose latest novel is the diptych Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; and the ubiquitous Danny Wallace who will be talking about his latest project Friends Like These.

The Poetry Arena is, as ever, co-programmed by musicOMH favourite Luke Wright who will also be performing, as will his Who Writes This Crap? collaborator Joel Stickley and his Aisle 16 co-conspirator Ross Sutherland. There will also be appearances by the comic poet Nathan Filer, star of the spoken word circuit, Polarbear, the perhaps inevitable Simon Armitage and the former poet laureate Andrew Motion.

Over in the Comedy Arena the eclectic line up includes sets by Mark Thomas, Miles Jupp, Dave Gorman, Seans Locke and Hughes, Tim Vine and the US comedian, and former star of The Larry Sanders Show, Janeane Garofalo.

This brief gem-pecking hasn’t even touched upon the dance events (Sadler’s Wells will be presenting work by Hofesh Shechter in the Cabaret Arena), the numerous not-so-easily classifiable things that will be going on and the fact that, maybe, at some point, you might just want to see some bands.

Latitude expands every year, continually pushing back the mental fences of what one expects a festival to be. It may have been labelled the Radio 4 listeners’ festival (possibly by us), but last year Anthony Neilson sent an army of zombies tottering through the woods as night fell. We’re fairly sure that doesn’t happen at the Big Chill. Well, not that often anyway.

Latitude 2009 takes place in Henham Park, Suffolk from 17-19 July 2009.

For further details see

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