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HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh 2018

The return of Hightide Festival

Every year, HighTide brings stunning works of new theatre, comedy, exhibitions and readings to Suffolk over the course of a 6-day festival on The Suffolk Coast, including world premieres of plays by hand-picked playwrights. It’s billed as “adventurous theatre for adventurous people,” and doesn’t disappoint. Welcome to the twelfth annual HighTide Festival of live performance in Suffolk, located at its new festival hub at the Garage Gallery and the East Coast Restaurant in Aldeburgh between 11th and 16th September.

HighTide Festival 2018 
Here, we focus on Tallulah Brown, HighTide's headline production and young local writer. Her coming of age play Songlines is set just on the coast of Suffolk in a place called Reydon. Songlines features live music performed by the award-winning band, TRILLS, and music is a strong feature across this year’s programme.

 

Does Suffolk influence your work? How has it influenced Songlines?

My first plays weren’t rooted to a particular place, they were set in other worlds: like magical forests or in outer space. There are so many writers making brilliant work you start to refine what story it is that you can tell, that no one else can tell. Last year my play Sea Fret was the first full length play I’d written set in Suffolk. It was about two teenage girls whose houses are falling into the sea. One girl can afford to move and the other girl can’t and it’s about the impact of that erosion on their friendship and their families. It was put on in London, we built a beach with a ton of pebbles and a pillbox in the middle of the stage. Bringing Suffolk to London felt important, especially in the wake of Brexit. One of the characters was a fisherman who didn’t go out to get fish anymore, blamed the lack of fish on the Spanish.

After Sea Fret finished I wanted to write again about Suffolk. I wanted to write a town mouse, country mouse love story and set it in and around Reydon. Set it somewhere that you’d have to get a bus to the nearest school, somewhere close enough to farms that the boy could have grown up on a farm and close enough to the sea so that the two of them could go and sit on the beach at Kessingland. Stan is a daydreamer and loves the stories and myths of Suffolk, he tells Stevie about Black Shuck when they first meet and when he takes her to Kessingland he tells her about the Viking settlement that they found just out to sea. Stevie has moved to Suffolk from London, she’s never felt this connection to a place before. She’s moved from house to house and she’s never met anyone like Stan before.

 

Songlines at HighTide Festival 2018 Songlines by Tallulah Brown

Does Songlines have a connection to Suffolk?

Songlines is all about being a teenager in the countryside, the hit of first love, ‘pool party’ themed house parties, long school bus journeys, scoping out dogging sites, teasing conspiracy theorists sat in pubs all day, drinking tinnies on the beach, houses that are sinking into marshland, arguments at school, joining bands, listening to music, going to gigs. Songlines couldn’t exist without Suffolk, it’s in the play’s bones. Although I think it’ll resonate with anyone who’s been a teenager. Also admission time: the first scene is set at a gig in Norwich!

 

What are your personal connections to Suffolk?

I grew up in Aldeburgh and went to Woodbridge School. My closest friends were from there and my parents still live there. Growing up as teenager in the countryside is so different to the cities: begging your parents to give you lifts to house parties while still being mortified when they drop you off! After University I came back to Suffolk and worked for Wonderful Beast Theatre Company who are based in Aldeburgh. I programmed the Pumphouse for the Aldeburgh Music Festival for three years. My band TRILLS, who feature in Songlines, played our first gig in the Pumphouse, now 10 years ago. It’ll be magically bizarre taking my play to HighTide where it’ll be on at the Pumphouse the TRILLS.

Tallulah Brown at HighTide Festival 2018 The talented Tallulah Brown, writer of Songlines

Why do you think HighTide is such a special Festival?

When I was at University we were taught about HighTide in relation to new writing, it was the place to send your work. They didn’t need you to have an agent, they were happy to read work from anywhere in the UK that was about anything. The breadth of that offer was and still is brilliant and really one of a kind. When I first saw their work at Halesworth, what made it stick out was that this was new writing but it was produced to a really high standard. As a new playwright getting your work put on is so difficult and takes so long: it’s above pubs, it’s for no money, there’s no set, no costume and you’ve brought in your own props! HighTide give you that boost that will make the work zingy. They have worked so unbelievably hard to make sure that Songlines has the most talented group of professionals working on it. I have a huge team of set, costume, lighting and sound designers, actors, director (and movement director!) Suddenly it feels like the baby has so many parents that whatever happens it’s going to be okay!

 

more about HighTide

HighTide is a theatre company and charity based in East Anglia that has an unparalleled eleven-year history of successfully launching the careers of emerging British playwrights. They have staged productions with the highest quality theatres across the UK, discovering new talent, providing creative development opportunities for playwrights and other creatives, and staging high quality theatre productions both regionally and across the country.

For more on the festival of live performance, head here

This blog was created in partnership with HighTide Festival and The Corner Shop PR.

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