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TV Stars Join Suffolk Based Theatre Festival Line-Up

Mathew Horne of Gavin and Stacey fame will be one of the actors giving a rehearsed reading of one of six extraordinary new plays at the Inventing the Future festival this weekend. Produced by leading UK theatre company, HighTide, the festival will showcase emerging theatre writers from diverse communities at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, Suffolk, from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 October.

The playwrights selected for the festival readings are Kelly Jones, Waleed Akhtar and John Webber – all from the East of England; Zain Dada and Nicole Latchana from London; and Kat Rose-Martin from Bradford. Their work is timely and urgent, exploring issues ranging from the climate crisis to the growing radicalisation of young, working class, white men. More festival details and writers’ profiles can be found on the HighTide website.

All six plays were drawn from HighTide’s wide-ranging Lighthouse Programme which supported new and diverse talent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gavin and Stacey star, Mathew Horne, is reading in Zidane of the Ends. His career includes plays, Rain Man (UK Tour) and The Miser (West End). His other TV credits include Bad Education, Catherine Tate Show (BBC), and Agatha Raisin (Sky).

Mathew commented: “Being part of an event which is providing a platform for new, progressive theatre writers is really exciting. The pandemic revealed many issues that we need to tackle, and I hope the plays showcased at Inventing the Future will highlight some of these challenges in a way that is engaging as well as thought-provoking.

“I would like to congratulate the writers whose plays have been selected to be read at The New Wolsey Theatre and I look forward to bringing the new play, Zidane of the Ends by Zain Dada, to life and in front of a theatre audience.”

Emily Head is reading in OCO-2 and Wake Up People. Her biography includes plays Gaslight (Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto), Abigail’s Party (The Curve, Leicester), and Coram Boy (Bristol Old Vic). She has also starred in TV programmes including The Inbetweeners, Emmerdale and The Syndicate.

She said: “I’m thrilled to be taking part in HighTide’s Inventing The Future festival, and to be returning to The New Wolsey Theatre. I recently performed my first piece of written work at the theatre, and I’m delighted to see them continue to champion and support new writing. HighTide has been a great support to many new writers, especially over the past 18 months.

“With their guidance, some incredible work has been created in that time – some of which audiences will have the opportunity to hear at the festival. So often new writers are overlooked, but it’s their work that can be the most fresh and exciting. It’s a joy to be a part of showcasing these new writers and their voices, made all the more enjoyable by it taking place in Suffolk – a part of the country that is very close to my heart.” 

The other actors that will be reading over the weekend are Emily Houghton (Bump), Johnny Khan (Zidane of the Ends), Milton Lopes (OCO-2, Wake Up People), Shala Nyx (Zidane of the Ends, Kabul Goes Pop: Music Television Afghanistan), Vivien Parry (Wake Up People), Sabrina Sandhu (OCO-2), Rakhee Sharma (Wake Up People), Emily Stott (End Cubicle, OCO-2, Wake Up People) and David Tarkenter (Wake Up People).

The directors are HighTide’s CEO Suba Das (OCO-2, Wake Up People), Milli Bhatia (Zidane of the Ends), Chloe France (End Cubicle), Ashen Gupta (Assistant Director of Zidane of the Ends) and Helena Snider (Bump).

Alongside the play readings, festival audiences will have free access to new work in the theatre foyer, which was created through HighTide’s summer community projects: audio pieces created with young people from Lowestoft’s Access Community Trust; and short films by young people from 4YP and Suffolk Refugee Support in Ipswich.

At 10.30am on Sunday 24 October, a special event will take place for audiences to share their hopes for the future of theatre. This will be accompanied by a new theatre piece created by a collective of Ipswich writers charting their experience of lockdown.

Suba Das, HighTide’s Artistic Director and CEO, says: “We are so proud to mark our return to live theatre performance with Inventing The Future. We are honoured to present a line-up of extraordinary plays exploring some of the themes and challenges which society is currently confronting, read and directed by some of Britain’s outstanding theatre talent.

“This one-off festival celebrates all we have achieved in these challenging times and marks our commitment to new relationships and practices forged during the pandemic. We know artists from diverse and/ or low-income backgrounds are especially vulnerable during the post-pandemic recovery; HighTide’s longstanding tradition of supporting writers from under-represented communities over our 14 years – to huge critical acclaim – makes it abundantly clear that we need to protect those voices. Especially if we want to create the most exciting new theatre.

“It is with this in mind that we have selected the artists in the festival who truly are the voices of the future. Over the past 18 months, thanks to the support of DCMS, Arts Council England, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and our incredible network of donors and supporters, we have been able to keep creativity going, supporting many hundreds of artists and working with young people across Suffolk through schools, universities and support services.

 “We are especially grateful to the New Wolsey Theatre for providing us with our first year-round home in Suffolk – we cannot wait to dive into our future with the artists and communities we are getting to know here.”

Tickets for the live readings are available from the New Wolsey Theatre and all tickets for the readings are just £5.

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