Entering the festival site
OK! Where did this week go? Finally, here it's the promised post about Latitude! Because I know you've all been impatiently waiting for it!
Latitude's organizers market the event as "More than a music festival", and that's exactly what it is. Of course, music is a big part of it an it is part of what makes the festivals' atmosphere so attractive. They have great acts and many people come exclusively to see them. They have, after all, five music arenas, but there is so much more to see and do outside these areas: theatre, cabaret, literary talks, comedy, film, radio, a knitting surgery...
This is my favourite thing about Latitude. The amount of interesting shows, and the variety of it. You can watch a theatre play, then move to the Comedy tent to see an act, go and watch a short film in the Film and Music Arena before heading to the Literary Saloon for a debate on the future of the book and finally going to the main music stage to see Pet Shop Boys. There is so much happening that acts have to really try hard to captivate their audience. With so many other interesting things going at the same time, they can't afford to lose audience interest. And they very rarely disappoint.
Overview of the fields
The downside is that it'd be impossible to see everything you've planned to see. Inevitably your favourite things happen at the same time, or something is running late and ruins your schedule, or you forget about them in between all the other acts. The upside? If you let go of your schedule, you are very likely to find an unexpected gem, a new singer or writer you hadn't heard about!
It's funny how some people do their research before they go, grab a timetable as soon as they get there and then follow a plan all weekend, and others just drift from place to place looking for something they may like. Some simply camp in their favourite tent and spend a whole morning, a day, or even a weekend there. I'd love to say I'm one of the spontaneous ones, but I did lots of planning and research before I went, so I knew what I wanted to see. I did however allow for some free time and ended up discovering great surprises... the inspiring and slightly scary debate on climate change that took place in the Music and Film Arena, the absolutely brilliant and funny Jessica Delfino in the Comedy tent and the very young and very talented Ruby and her Whorses on the Poetry Arena.
Outside the poetry tentAnother thing I love about Latitude is that many of the people that perform over the weekend do it more than once and in different arenas. These artists are very difficult to classify, some appear in the Comedy tent first and the Poetry one later, or read their poetry and then sing in one of the music arenas. I love how there is music everywhere, even in the literary tent some of the acts manage to include music during their set. For me, great artists are those that express themselves in lots of different ways, that use many subjects and different tools, that simply follow their inspiration and let it guide them to the right media. On a personal level, this makes me realize that it doesn't matter that I don't know "what to do with my life", that maybe I'm meant to have more than one calling. That it's OK to want to write, take photos, make collages, that I can actually express myself through words and images whenever necessary. That I don't have to choose.
Outside the Literary tent
Going from tent to tent is so inspiring, there are so many ideas floating in the air, so many interesting people either performing or attending (sometimes both!), so many new things to learn, books to read, websites to check out, bands to listen to... It's impossible not to come back inspired to write that book, start that research project, or experiment with your blog... And I'm going to do all of those in the coming months! So wait and see!
But before, I want to tell you about some of my favourites from the weekend.
Mark Thomas: Ah, he should probably be the oficial ARWP comedian.
Shappi Khorsandi: Iranian-born, her family moved to England escaping the regime. She makes fun of politics, death threats, and race and can express better than anyone what it's like to belong in two different places, to be a foreigner at home... always with a laugh.
The theatre was seriously good. This tent was the first and the last that we visited at the weekend. We started with Is everyone OK? a play by the group Nabokov about being 30 and wondering "How did I get here?" (so appropriate!!) and finished watching an incredibly funny account of sudden loss of dignities. Check the Bush Theatre website for more. And if you have experienced a sudden loss of dignity, let them know! They may include your story in their next show!
Is everyone OK? by NabokovLiterary Arena and Literary Salon
They had great writers at the Literary Arena, but what I really enjoyed was the Literary Salon, where there were debates on the future of the book, workshops on how to play outdoors or how to talk to strangers with The School of Life and talks about writing for the BBC. Well, you all know how much I like taking courses and workshops so as you can imagine I spent a great deal of time here. Also they had sofas!
A very tired me at the Literary Salon on the Sunday
In here, I was reminded that we should sit sill from time to time, let our mind wander, because than when the best ideas happen, and that we shouldn't let the fact that we are amateurs stop us from doing something. So what if my photos aren't perfect? I enjoy taking them and that's enough for now.
Film and Music Arena:
My favourite thing was Richard DeDomenici talking about plagiarism. Has everything been done? he asked, and although his presentation, tracking down the roots of many famous works in music and art seemed to say that yes, everything has indeed been done before, he ended up reminding us that there are new ideas around and it's up to us to find them! We also saw a fascinating debate on climate change. We were urged to make drastic changes to our lifestyles before it's too late, to commit ourselves with real action and to pressure our Governments to make a commitment to change in the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December. See where your country stands here.
All my favourite ladies were there (OK, Zooey Deschanel wasn't) I was already looking forward to both Bat for Lashes and Regina Spektor. It was the second time I saw Bat for Lashes live and she has grown and improved so much in two years. Regina was incredibly sweet, and she has such a strong and light sound at the same time, it was incredble watch her play the piano. The surprise of the Festival was Grace Jones who I didn't really know as any more than a famous name. She is an amazing diva and gave her everything to the public.
Grace Jones making a grand entrance
Also, The Doves were amazing, I'm not really a fan but there were great live and really engaged the public. Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, did an exclusive solo gig on Sunday morning, a mellow set that was perfect for a quiet Sunday morning. I also discovered and loved Sky Larkin. And The Pretenders! OMG, I heard I'll stand by you live!!!
Ufff, sorry for the long post. If you got here, thanks for reading!! I can't stop talking about it! And I can't wait for next year's Latitude!