HighTide theatre festival returns

Hayley Mace A theatre festival which celebrates the best in new writing, directing and acting talent is set to make its second visit to north Suffolk this spring.

Hayley Mace

A theatre festival which celebrates the best in new writing, directing and acting talent is set to make its second visit to north Suffolk this spring.

The HighTide Festival, which took place for the first time last Easter, is returning to The Cut in Halesworth with a programme packed full of the best new theatre, film and writing talent.

It is the first theatre festival in the country to focus exclusively on writers, actors and directors under

30 and is supported by a team of celebrity patrons, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually star Bill Nighy, Royal Shakespeare Company actress Sinead Cusack and renowned playwright David Hare.

Robert Fox, director of recent box office hit and BAFTA-winning film Atonement, has recently joined HighTide as an artistic advisor to support the inaugural film festival which will run along this year's theatre performances.

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The programme for HighTide 2008, which runs from May 1 to 5, was officially launched yesterday at a party in London, and the three new plays which will be premiering at the festival were announced.

To find the best original theatre, budding playwrights and theatre groups were invited to submit scripts earlier this year and the HighTide team spent weeks reading through more than 450 entries.

The chosen writers - Adam Brace with his play Stovepipe, Nick Payne's work called Switzerland, and local writer Joel Horwood with

I Caught Crabs in Walberswick - will now be paired with a director to make their work come to life on stage.

Mr Horwood's play, a coming-of-age story set in Suffolk, will be a co-production with leading Suffolk-based theatre company Eastern Angles.

To compliment the theatre programme, HighTide 2008 will also feature film, comedy, masterclasses and talks from high-profile guest speakers, including playwright Tom Stoppard.

Festival patron Bill Nighy said: “It is crucial to have a festival like HighTide to give new writers, directors and actors a place to start, and the overwhelming success of our first year was one of the most satisfying things I have been involved in.”

Sam Hodges, HighTide founder

and artistic director, said: “It has been such a privilege to be involved in collaborations between theatre and film makers from the inaugural Hightide festival company, a collective of talent that looks set

to be the next generation of

British directors and writers. I

can't believe I get to do it all over again.”

> Tickets for this year's festival will be on sale from Saturday at www.hightidefestival.org