FEATURED: ‘HighTide Festival’, Walthamstow



HighTide Festival‘, Walthamstow

‘HighTide Festival returns to Walthamstow for a second year of world-class live performance at affordable prices and brand new theatre by the hottest emerging talent’.

  HighTide is a theatre company based in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, that is chiefly concerned with the production of new plays, and the promotion and nurturing of new playwrights. The company produces approximately five new productions each year, which go on to tour the UK in some of the country’s leading theatres.

  After premiering five new productions at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the highly-acclaimed HighTide Festival of Live Performance, described by Time Out as “one of the most exciting theatre festivals in the country”, returns to Walthamstow for its second year after a successful first run in 2017, and will host a diverse programme of brand new theatre, comedy, music and family entertainment. This follows the news that Waltham Forest has been named the Mayor of London’s first London Borough of Culture for 2019.

  The centrepiece production for Walthamstow’s 2018 HighTide Festival is ‘Songlines‘, with associate productions to include ‘Sparks‘, ‘Busking It‘, ‘The Extinction Event‘, and ‘Thor and Loki‘.

Songlines –

“She’s scared of what I might get up to out here in the countryside. Keeps giving me lectures on barn-bonking. I’m going to die of boredom just to make her feel bad”.

‘Stevie’s Grandma prays for her salvation, Stevie’s mum preaches free love, Stevie doesn’t know where to start! – She’s sent to Suffolk – the home of doggers, folklore and Stan’.

  Tallulah Brown’s ‘Songlines’, presented by HighTide and DugOut Theatre, directed by George Chilcott, ‘Songlines’ is a witty coming-of-age love story, following teens Stevie and Stan, which depicts teenage awkwardness in all its glory. The production features live folk music from award-winning band TRILLS.

  Hailed by The Guardian as one of the best shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Times refers to the productions as “perfectly pitched” with “a bit of magic about it”, whilst The Scotsman refers to ‘Songlines’ as “a charming piece of theatre, often very funny and unflinchingly accurate about the problems of growing up”.

  ‘The course of teenage love never did run smooth’.

Sparks –

‘“Fall in love in my early 20s, get married in my late 20s, have at least one child by the time I’m 30. F*ck!”. Life is hard to navigate when you’ve got so many questions. Can I put this jumper in the washing machine? Do you have my birth certificate? Where did you find love? How did you do it? How do you survive? In a play that blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy, imagination and truth, ‘Sparks’ is a story for anyone who has ever embellished on the ordinary’.

  Michelle Barnette Productions and Flipping the Bird, along with HighTide, present Jessica Butcher’s ‘Sparks’, a hilarious new two-hander musical charting the brain’s response to grief. The production, directed by Jessica Edwards, containing original music by Anoushka Lucas, is described as ‘the story of a kamikaze love affair with unexpected consequences’, one that explores love, loss, fantasy, worth and grief.

  Regarding the production, The Empty Blogspace states, “Sparks is a play about grief, but with a focus on life and not death and a bubbly (sometimes baroque) soundtrack, it’s grief done a little differently… Sparks is about finding ground, when it’s fallen away from beneath your feet. About focusing on the little things… About finding your own answers to your questions and moving forward. About remembering you’re alive, you’re electric, that morning comes around”.

  The Stage talks of the after effects of the production, which “makes you want to call the people in your life that you love and hear their voices”, whilst Exeunt Magazine elegantly states, “Some shows feel too beautiful to write about. Sparks feels like one of those shows… gentle and gently devastating… studded with humanising details… The music lifts the show beyond words, beyond the banal realities of carrying on living”.

Busking It –

‘“If I don’t know you and you don’t know me, then you’re free in your anonymity”. Cities are full of stories – it’s amazing what you hear if you stop and listen. Drawing on her decade of singing on the tube, Danusia Samal’s Busking It is a journey through the tunnels of the London Underground. A fun, moving and vibrant piece of gig-theatre giving voice to the passers-by, blending chance encounters with original live music’.

  Written and performed by Danusia Samal, with music by Adam Cross and Joe Archer, ‘Busking It’ blends theatre, spoken word and music, as Danusia takes us on an intimate journey through the London underground, a journey inspired by her decade of busking. The production is presented by Coin Drop, in association with HighTide and Shoreditch Town Hall, and is directed by Guy Jones. According to The Scotsman, “gig theatre doesn’t come more authentic than this”.

  Regarding the production, Fest Magazine writes, In front of the curl of a Tube tunnel, writer and performer Danusia Samal snatches at moments rushing by. Driving us through commuters who stop long enough for her to digest them, she deftly snaps between their characterful voices: the lost, the stressed, the creepy…. there’s something in Samal’s story that is determined that no matter what, a change is going to come…Buskers measure their worth by what other people think of them, but Samal teaches us that we are more than how much money people throw at our feet”.

The Extinction Event –

‘“A magician is an actor playing the part of a god”, or so said Hugo Cedar. So, what happens when science makes gods of us all?… History is full of figures claiming power over life and death, but now there are people claiming that death is not, after all, inevitable. These people are not magicians. They’re scientists’.

  Produced by SEDA (The Sorcerers for the Extinction of Death and Associates) in association with HighTide, hypnotist magicians David Aula and Simon Evans present ‘The Extinction Event‘, described as ‘a mind-hopping, time-space continuum-busting, misdirection-bending examination of what really happens when science starts thinking for itself’.

  On seeing the production, a reviewer from A Younger Theatre wrote, “I have always believed theatre to be a form of magic and magic shows to be a form of theatre. The Extinction Event… delivered on both”.

  ‘The Extinction Event is not the story of a magic trick. This is the story of real magic. This is ‘philosophy with a deadline. Tick-tock’.

Thor and Loki –

‘”When what was meant for everyone is guarded by a few, it’s time to make way for something new”.

Our heroes Thor and Loki have destinies – destinies that just don’t fit. The Gods are counting on Thor to win the war against the Giants, but he hates violence, is useless with a hammer and prefers writing poetry. Hideous half-Giant Loki is destined to destroy the Nine Worlds, but she’s never hurt a fly. As war rages and The End Of The World approaches, an unlikely friendship is born. Can Thor and Loki find the strength to be themselves and save the world? Expect epic battles, mighty ballads and a chorus of tap-dancing trolls in this big-hearted comedy about friends, heroes and making a stand. Freely adapted from Norse mythology, Thor and Loki is a fierce and fabulous new musical for every misfit who wants to change the world a little bit’.

  Vicky Graham Productions, in association with HighTide, Harlow Playhouse and Something For The Weekend, present ‘Thor and Loki‘, a new comedy musical by Harry Blake, directed by HighTide Associate Artist Eleanor Rhode.

  According to The List, “This production carries all the quick wit of a Marvel movie… A smash hit for Marvel and musical fans alike, whilst The i Paper refers to the show as “a glittery antidote to a world in chaos”.

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  In addition to these productions, HighTide will be presenting ‘Stars Over The Forest’, a talent showcase for young artists, a sneak preview of Lil.Miss.Lady, a theatre-meets-rave concept exploring British Grime music, play readings of newly commissioned works, intimate gigs in the back of a van! (Soul in the Van), and late night comedy. The Festival will also include a total of eleven family shows, featuring puppetry, an outdoor interactive adventure, and children’s comedy shows.

  Regarding the return of the Festival to Walthamstow, Councillor Clare Coghill, of Waltham Forest Council, said, “Returning with their beautiful pop-up venue in Walthamstow Town Centre, HighTide Festival will once again bring high quality and accessible theatre and live performance to our public spaces and local venues. Building on the successes of the 2017 Festival, this year’s HighTide is providing an even greater platform for our local artists to create work in their own community. There is a real buzz about culture in our borough as we step up to be the first ever London Borough of Culture in 2019. We are proud to support projects such as HighTide, which continue to build our reputation as a cultural destination, and which ensure arts and culture is accessible to all our residents here on our doorstep.”

  The Festival will be centred around a brand new, purpose-built temporary venue, entitled The Mix, by Studio Three Sixty. The Mix contains state of the art technology and a striking performance space, creating a unique experience for audiences.

  The Festival Hub, located within the gardens, will be free to enter, and open every day (excluding Mondays). Here, you can purchase tickets for the shows, in addition to local food and drink, whilst enjoying nightly live music and other entertainment that will be scheduled throughout the Festival.

  The festival, in collaboration with Waltham Forest Council, will run from Tuesday 18th to Sunday 30th September 2018, at Walthamstow Town Square Gardens.


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