Latitude Festival, or "Latté-tude" as Russell Kane lovingly refers to it, run by Festival Republic, is now in its sixth year. The low-(environmental)-impact, middle-class, highbrow festival which embraces all the arts attracts great acts across music, comedy, cabaret, theatre, dance, poetry and also hosts art and fashion displays. It hit a few problems last year with increased ticket sales and attendance, but no parallel increase in facilities, leading to minor concerns about the lack of toilets and the state of these, to the more serious a couple of alleged rape incidents, reported widely across the media.
The green credentials are still in place with the reusable beer cup scheme (£2 deposit), waste recycling, campers' waste kits, market traders adhering to a green code of practice and a new initiative for this year a Going Green competition: punters aim to get each of 5 tasks signed off and are then entered into a draw with guitars and drums included in the prizes.
Shlomo is on in the Theatre with his Mouthtronica show which is hugely popular, with people stood at the back once all the seats are filled and many more watching the screen outside (an excellent addition). Shlomo runs through 10 steps involved in his beatboxing art form voice, lips, throat, loop station are some of the key components, as well as the audience who contribute sounds for an improvised song. Whilst astounding us with his beatboxing skills, he gives us a potted life history too, from showing off his belly dancing as a three year old, via working at a call centre and getting a call from Björk about collaborating with her, through to his recent win of the World Loop Station Championship. Shlomo invites slam-poet rapper Dizraeli on to perform a spontaneous piece with him, inspired by random words shouted from the crowd. An impressive show and exciting start to the festival experience.
In the Cabaret venue, the stage is split in two and one half surrounded by curtains to allow for acts to set up and for smooth running. The next act Bourgeois And Maurice are a flamboyant duo with excessive amounts of eyeshadow and false lashes, eye-popping costumes and songs to match, including 'Out Outfit You' for Lady Gaga, and 'Ritalin' for the kids! The songs are sharp-witted, bitchy, rude, caustic, they make you feel slightly tainted for listening to them, but they are bloomin' hilarious.
There's a surge of people trying to get in to the Film & Music tent, 10 minutes before a short film of Tim Minchin's beat poem, 'Storm', is scheduled to be shown. We've inadvertently stumbled on some jazz instead 'The Cats Meets Jazz', which goes on for at least half an hour over the time the film was due, and then the stage is set up for the next musical act. There's a lot of confusion amongst the audience and stewards about timings and it's disappointing that there's no compère to let people know what's happening.
Back across to the Poetry venue where Dizraeli and the Small Gods are performing. Dizraeli is a BBC Poetry Slam winner and, with his bandmates, sets his breathless, fast-paced prose to acoustic guitars and viola, with backing vocals. He also performs a couple of unaccompanied poems from the floor in front of the audience.
The Theatre is hosting the debut play of Kate Tempest, a regular in the Poetry tent at Latitude, produced by touring theatre company Paines Plough. It's called 'Wasted' and is presented by three superb actors and a musician on drums, percussion and backing tracks. The stage is littered with cardboard boxes and a screen at the back shows pre-filmed close-ups of the actors' faces looking contemplative throughout. At points during the play, the lines spoken are fast, clever, rhythmic and poetic. Although the characters assure us that there's no message and no hidden meaning, it seems to be about regrets, wasted opportunities, talents, lives, but that ultimately there's a chance that love can redeem us.
Back to the tent by 2 am, the sound of dance music carries across the campsite until 3 am, followed by the pitter-patter of rain sometime during the night.
review by: Helen OSullivan
photos by: Chris Mathews / Helen OSullivan
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