The Festivals Are Coming…

After the long and chilly months of winter, we are now starting to anticipate summer and warmer weather. Many theatres may take a hiatus after a busy spring season – however it also means many shows move to the outdoors or celebrate all things arts with festivals. Next month’s issue will highlight the full festival season in our special pull-out, but as there’s a lot of ground to cover I thought I would get in early so you can start putting some dates in your diary.

One of the first notable theatre festivals of 2020 is the ever-exciting INK Festival in Halesworth (17-19 April). From pen to performance, INK sources, develops and produces the best new short plays for stage and radio, mostly from writers whom have a connection to East Anglia. In just five years, they have produced a staggering 150+ new plays. This year’s festival received over 750 new short play submissions, and just 40 of those have been selected to be produced and performed.

Writers featured this year include sitcom and comedic icon Miranda Hart, the BBC Arts Editor and former director of Tate Galleries Will Gompertz and Elliot Cowan, following his outstanding performances in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Peaky Blinders and Luther. These names, in addition to an exciting group of new and established writers, are sure to make for a great festival. The short plays chosen from the huge number of submissions are all of a contemporary art form, which the organisers hope is accessible to everyone. Some are sad, some will make you cry with laughter; all are topical, poignant and reflect the world we live in.

Throughout the three days, there will also be poetry performances from Luke Wright and others, workshops, talks, three evening comedy performances, and a beautiful art show in the gallery. Alongside the festival, they also have INK on the road (6-23 May) and this year it’s bigger and better as it will tour No Ordinary Joe to 13 venues in East Anglia which is almost double the number of venues it toured last year.

The Norfolk & Norwich Festival (8-24 May) mixes theatre, music, comedy and arts. A couple of highlights from first glance include Gravity & Other Myths’ Out Of Chaos… which claims to be the boldest and most ambitious work yet from the no-nonsense, DIY circus company that took Norwich by storm in the 2019 festival. Fire Songs from Frozen Light creates an immersive sensory sound experience for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), and is performed in collaboration with Thetford Singers. Rich Kids is about entitlement and consumption, and it’s the second part to a trilogy of plays about how digital technology, resentment and fracturing identity are changing the world. That’s just the beginning – be sure to keep checking the festival website for other shows and further additions to the line-up.

Rising from the ashes of the infamous Watch Out! Festival, the Cambridge Junction is excited to present DISRUPT (29-30 May), a two-day programme of disruptive performance. They promise fists full of live art, performance and dance from early until late for one of the UK’s finest art parties. The festival is set to feature OUT by Rachael Young, Sex Education by Harry Clayton-Wright and CUTE by Luca Rutherford, with more to be announced.

Hopefully these three festivals, from three of our four regions, get you thinking about what fresh and innovative pieces of theatre and art are available right on our doorsteps. Dare to keep broadening your horizons to something different, and keep supporting new work.