A Latitude 2016 Diary

Reporter: David Chadderton

Dateline: 24th July, 2016

Overview

The number of festivals of all kinds in the UK in summer has exploded over the last few years, but most cater for one particular artform, sometimes one narrow genre.

Glastonbury is the big daddy of music festivals, but there are now dozens of similar events in fields all over the country. Literary festivals are also springing up in smaller towns across the UK in addition to the big ones such as Edinburgh, Hay and Oxford.

Theatre, comedy and other performing arts are catered for by the big open festivals such as the Edinburgh, Buxton and Brighton Fringe Festivals and curated and commissioned festivals such as Buxton Festival, Manchester International Festival and Edinburgh International Festival, as well as events which are really just shows in the same area that would have been on anyway collected together under a festival banner.

Latitude is different, as it does all of these things but there is still very much a rock festival sensibility to the whole thing. One ticket (actually a wristband—a very nice fabric one that survives the showers if you're lucky enough to get one) gets you into as many events as you can manage without any extra cost, which means that people will wander freely from performance to performance, whatever the artform, irrespective of start and finish times. If your show can't easily be viewed in this way, this is probably the wrong place to perform it.

The Theatre Arena does actually have seats and a door, which flaps open and lets in daylight whenever someone arrives or leaves, unlike the Comedy, Poetry and Literature Arenas, which are open all the time for people to wander in and out and sprawl on the floor to watch.

It's a very different arena and audience to a permanent theatre space and a fascinating one for the artists to tackle if they're up for it. A show that has worked at mid-range touring venues won't necessarily be successful here without some adaptation. The productions that do get it right, however, are guaranteed an uninhibitedly enthusiastic reception.

The following is a sort-of diary of the performances I saw or dipped into over the four days to try to give a flavour of this unique festival.

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