The full line-up for the 2018 HighTide Festivals in Aldeburgh and Walthamstow has been announced, alongside the news that artistic director Steven Atkinson will stand down in 2019 after 12 years of successful leadership.
Tim Clark, HighTide’s chairman, said:
“Steven’s contribution to HighTide, and to theatre in the UK more generally, has been immense. Starting with Adam Brace’s Stovepipe, which was listed in the Sunday Times Ten Best Theatre Productions of the Decade, his 11 years of leadership have been filled with many successes.
“He also led new festivals in Aldeburgh and Walthamstow and secured a decade of Arts Council England National Portfolio funding. We now embark on finding a successor to Steven who will continue to bring passion, flair, integrity and commitment to the role of artistic director.”
For the first time, the company will present a season of five world premiere productions at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, before transferring them to its Aldeburgh and Walthamstow Festivals, as part of a brand-new mentoring scheme for new playwrights and producers.
HighTide will be in Edinburgh with world premieres from 1-27 August 2018, Aldeburgh from 11-16 September, and will return to Walthamstow for the second year from 18-30 September. The programme includes new plays by Tallulah Brown, Jessica Butcher and Danusia Samal.
The launch of the programme marks the company’s continued commitment to creating a bridge that supports new theatre-makers starting out on the fringe building on the festival’s proven ability in providing a platform for launching careers in the UK’s leading theatres.
HighTide’s centrepiece production, co-produced with their associate company DugOut Theatre, is a song-laced coming of age tale by Aldeburgh-based writer Tallulah Brown called Songlines. Set in Reydon, Suffolk, it features live folk music from the award-winning band TRILLS.
HighTide’s associate productions, selected through an open script submission process, are: Sparks – Jessica Butcher’s two-hander musical about the brain’s response to grief with original music by Anoushka Lucas; Danusia Samal’s gig-theatre piece Busking It, drawing on a decade of busking on the tube; The Extinction Event from David Aula and Simon Evans – an examination of what happens when science starts thinking for itself; and finally, Harry Blake’s new comedy musical about Norse gods Thor and Loki.
Notable new plays and writers premiered in the Aldeburgh HighTide Festival include Al Smith’s Harrogate, which transferred to the Royal Court Theatre, and Girls by Theresa Ikoko, who is currently under commission to HighTide.
The Walthamstow festival, running 18-30 September, will once again be primarily based in the Festival Hub, situated in Walthamstow Town Square Gardens. The festival will include 11 family shows including local company Baby Panda presenting Five Little Monkeys, an outdoor interactive adventure in a bespoke greenhouse – The Little Gardener; kids comedy The Storm Whale with Walthamstow-based author Benji Davies; original songs in Hey Diddle Diddle!; E17 Puppet Project’s The Vote; and How to Hide a Lion, adapted from the popular children’s book by Helen Stephens.