Pupils' work stars at HighTide festival

Sarah Brealey School pupils from Halesworth will have their poetry turned into plays as a major arts festival gets under way in Suffolk tomorrow.The HighTide festival of new drama and film features talks from travel broadcaster and former Python Michael Palin and playwright Tom Stoppard alongside new plays and short films.

Sarah Brealey

School pupils from Halesworth will have their poetry turned into plays as a major arts festival gets under way in Suffolk tomorrow.

The HighTide festival of new drama and film features talks from travel broadcaster and former Python Michael Palin and playwright Tom Stoppard alongside new plays and short films. Tomorrow there will be preview performances and school sessions before the festival gets into full swing from Friday to Monday.

Pupils from Halesworth Middle School have already written poems and this afternoon will take part in Wunderkind, a collaboration with the Poetry Trust. In the workshops actors from the HighTide company turn the poems into short performances.

The major attraction at the festival, to be held at the Cut arts centre in Halesworth, will be an interview with Tom Stoppard by the BBC's Mark Lawson on Saturday afternoon, followed by a screening of Michael Palin's film East of Ipswich and an interview and question and answer session. Both events are on course to sell out. Also set to be popular is local playwright Joel Horwood's I Caught Crabs in Walberswick, which has been compared with the Channel 4 teen drama Skins.

Director Sam Hodges said he hopes the festival will develop into something which has a permanent base in Halesworth.

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“We are looking to develop something that has a place in Suffolk potentially throughout the year, not just one event. We are looking to have premieres here in Suffolk, and also have people coming here to do development work.

“Whatever happens we are definitely coming back for the festival next year and are already starting to plan it.”

But he said funding for the festival - which costs £90,000 to put on - was on a knife-edge and that it depended on good ticket sales to be able to grow. “It won't be until the 11th hour that we know whether we have raised enough money. It is important to sell tickets for two reasons - to make ends meet, and so that we are reaching as wide an audience as possible and getting the festival known.

“Last time people came along early in the weekend and then it spread through word of mouth.”

Contact the box office on 0845 6732123 for tickets. Tickets to Wunderkind are free.