We are devastated not to be with you at Henham Park this weekend, and putting on a show – or hundreds of shows – that would linger in our hearts until 2021. I have the complete privilege of booking the arts for the festival, and as I write this, the arena should be opening to let you all in. The stages would be standing ready. Artists would be completing their tech rehearsals. Our first shows would be starting in two and a half hours.
At the heart of Latitude is the ethos that music and the arts have an extraordinary power; to unite us in euphoria as a crowd dances together, to open up new ways of storytelling and stories you might not have heard before, and, in a way that feels as urgent now as it has ever done, to speak truth to power.
There’s no way to recreate the breadth of what we would have offered you on the arts stages this weekend, and in fact, when we all left our offices back in March, we hadn’t finished booking the programme, so I can’t even tell you what it would have been in its entirety. It’s a lost weekend, to borrow a line from the poem John Cooper Clarke wrote for our 10th anniversary.
Instead, what we’d like to do is offer you a tiny snapshot of some of the art that artists, and others, are making and performing in lockdown, so that you have a little theatre, a little spoken word, and a little laughter at home, for us. The arts are so under threat at the moment, and yet the creativity and truth and sheer good fun that artists are creating from home feels more potent than ever. It’s truly awesome.
For your comedy fix this Saturday evening, I recommend a visit to The Covid Arms. Since the first show, Kiri Pritchard-McLean’s weekly online gig has raised over £100,000 for The Trussell Trust! This Saturday’s line-up includes 2019 comedy headliner, Jason Manford. And while you’re here – Save Live Comedy.
For theatre, two picks. If you want something bite-sized, dark and funny, then devote 13 minutes of your weekend to watching ‘Stay Connected‘. It’s a new monologue written by Dawn King, and performed by Shobna Gulati, for High Tide Theatre’s Lighthouse programme. My second is the final night of ‘My White Best Friend’ at the Royal Court. They’ll be releasing final tickets at midday on Friday. Black audience members might be able to get a free ticket through the brilliant work of the Black Ticket Project.
To recreate the Speakeasy, there can only be one stop. Latitude’s favourite poet and playwright Luke Wright did a gig every night for the first 100 nights of the lockdown! So join him on his Twitter stream on Sunday at 8PM. Need a screen break, like me? My tip is to get a copy of JJ Bola’s ‘Mask Off’, and/or Lisa Blower’s ‘Pondweed’.
I haven’t had a chance to listen yet as it goes live today, but for an immersive at-home experience I feel confident recommending Darkfield’s ‘DOUBLE‘. You might remember their immersive installations ‘Séance’, and ‘Flight’, from past editions of Latitude. Those shows made memorable use of audio to disrupt the senses. I’d bet ‘DOUBLE’ does the same.
So that’s how I’ll be spending my weekend. Scrolling through photos of past years, through all the memories you’re sharing with us, and wishing we were enjoying shows like these in a field together. So until 2021, #LatitudeForever.
Latitude 2021 will return to Henham Park on 22nd-25th July, with headliners Lewis Capaldi, Bastille and more. Tickets are on sale now.