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HighTide is a theatre company based in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. It is one of the UK’s leading producers of new plays, and the only professional theatre company focused on the production of new playwrights. The company produces around six new productions each year which tour the UK's leading theatres and internationally.

AddressBox Office: Aldeburgh Cinema, 51 High Street, IP15 5AU
Aldeburgh, Suffolk



Under Artistic Director Steven Atkinson, HighTide have premièred major productions by playwrights including Ella Hickson, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Nick Payne, Adam Brace, Beth Steel, Laura Poliakoff, Luke Barnes, Vickie Donoghue, Lydia Adetunji, Jack Thorne and Joel Horwood. Since being founded in 2007 and hosted at The Cut Theatre in Halesworth until 2014, HighTide have partnered with many of the world's leading theatre companies to co-produce new playwrights, including: the National Theatre, Bush Theatre, Soho Theatre, The Old Vic, Latitude Festival, Sheffield Theatres, Headlong, BAC, Watford Palace Theatre, Theatre 503, Aldeburgh Music, Eastern Angles, nabokov, Macrobert, to London's West End, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Australian National Play Festival and The Public Theater, New York and Off-Broadway.

HighTide receives and considers around 1000 scripts a year from around the world, from which they then work with 100 playwrights on a range of development opportunities, from workshops to full productions. Every play that is received is read by the Artistic Director and Associates.

Lansons, a public relations agency, host HighTide's administrative offices in-kind within their Clerkenwell offices.[1] This innovative partnership between a business and charity has won five Corporate Engagement Awards (2012 & 2011), was nominated for two Arts & Business awards in 2010 and 2013, and has been profiled by The Guardian and the Evening Standard.

HighTide is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.


Season 2007Edit

HighTide started life as a three-day festival,[2] opening on 6 March 2007. It premiered short plays by Tom Basden, Steven Bloomer, Sarah Cuddon, Sam Holcroft, Matthew Morrison, Pericles Snowdon, Megan Walsh and Iain Weatherby

Tom Basden's Assembly then transferred to Hay-on-Wye Festival 2008. It was expanded into a full length play retitled Party, which premiered at Edinburgh Festival 2009 where it won a Fringe First, transferred to the Arts Theatre, London, and was adapted for Radio 4.

Season 2008Edit

The second HighTide Festival opened in May 2008 with a new emphasis on full length plays rather than shorts. Four plays were premiered, written by Adam Brace, Joel Horwood, Nick Payne and the fourth devised and written by You Need Me and Emily Watson-Howes. The Festival also included platform discussions with Tom Stoppard, Michael Palin, Asif Kapadia.

Season 2009Edit

The third HighTide Festival in May 2009 expanded to a two-week festival, at the centre of which were three world premieres by Lydia Adetunji, Lucy Caldwell and Jesse Weaver. An expanded programme saw a collaboration with the Aldeburgh Festival on One Evening, a fully staged concert of Schubert's Winterreise and Beckett's text, directed by Katie Mitchell, and a special performance of David Hare's Berlin and Wall, performed by the author together for the first time and directed by Stephen Daldry. Other special events included a celebration of publisher Faber and Faber's 80th anniversary with staged readings of works by their authors John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard and David Hare. The programme also included a retrospective on Anthony Minghella, with a one-off performance of Minghella's radio play Hang Up performed by Harry Treadaway and Felicity Jones, and a screening of Shakespeare in Love followed by a platform talk with director John Madden.

Season 2010Edit

The fourth HighTide Festival in May 2010 premiered three productions written by Serge Cartwright, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and Beth Steel. The Old Vic Theatre co-produced Steel's play Ditch, with Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey causing a sensation when he visited Halesworth to open the production. Cowhig's Lidless was produced in a found space in Halesworth; the local Scout Hut and surrounding land was transformed into a Guantanamo Bay barracks. The Festival also previewed works-in-progress by Jesse Weaver, performed by Bernard Hill and Sam Hodges, and Adam Brace's Midnight Your Time, performed by Diana Quick, which went on to be fully produced the following year.

In partnership with the Genesis Foundation, HighTide launched the Genesis Laboratory, a year-round development studio situated in London.

Season 2011Edit

The Festival premiered its first small-scale musical, Nicked, by Richard Marsh and Natalia Sheppard, about the formation of the UK's coalition government. Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion made his playwriting debut with Incoming, American playwright Stephen Belber's play Dusk Rings A Bell received its European premiere, and Adam Brace's Midnight Your Time was fully produced after being workshopped at the previous year's Festival.

To mark the company's fifth birthday, it was joined by five new patrons, each of whom had supported HighTide in its founding years. They were Richard Eyre, Nicholas Hytner, Stephen Daldry, Juliet Stevenson and Sam Mendes.

Season 2012Edit

In April 2011, HighTide started to receive core funding as a National Portfolio Organisation from Arts Council England.[3]

HighTide Festival 2012 featured a much expanded programme of eighteen plays in world and European premiere productions by writers including: Luke Barnes, Jon Barton, Ollie Birch, Mike Daisey, Joe Douglas, Vickie Donoghue, Thomas Eccleshare, Kenny Emson, Berri George, Karis Halsall, Nancy Harris, Ella Hickson, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Mona Mansour, Laura Marks, Ian McHugh, Jon McLeod, Shiona Morton Laura Poliakoff, Mahlon Prince, Stella Fawn Ragsdale, Stephanie Street, Philip Wells, Nicola Werenowska, Alexandra Wood.

Season 2013Edit

The 2013 HighTide Festival included the premiere of the Verity Bargate Award winning Pastoral by Thomas Eccleshare (a co-production with Soho Theatre), Smallholding, the main stage debut play by Chris Dunkley (a co-production with Nuffield Theatre, Southampton), two European premieres: Moth by Declan Greene[4] (transferring to the Bush Theatre) and Neighbors by the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award recipient Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (a co-production with Nuffield Theatre, Southampton). The Festival also included Artist Talks with Michael Frayn, Stephen Poliakoff and Roger Michell. Touring productions included Michaela Cole's acclaimed Chewing Gum Dreams, and music included appearances by Ronnie Scott's Jazz and Hackney Colliery Band.

Outside of the Festival HighTide premiered Phil Porter’s The Reprobates, a new play for young people (a co-production with The Garage, Norwich), a touring production of Alexander Masters' Stuart: A Life Backwards adapted by Jack Thorne (a co-production with Sheffield Theatres) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's open letter was performed at the Bush Theatre in an event called Pussy Riot: Hunger Strike.

Season 2014Edit

HighTide's 2014 Season commenced with the transfer of Chris Dunkley's Smallholding to Soho Theatre. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's writings were performed at the Southbank Centre as part of the 2014 Women of the World Festival in an event called Pussy Riot: Letters and Writings, directed by Steven Atkinson.

The eighth HighTide Festival took place in Halesworth, Suffolk from April 10 to 19. The festival gave Elinor Cook and Harry Melling their professional debut, Nick Payne returned to the festival for the first time since 2008, and HighTide produced the European premiere of Dan LeFranc's award-winning The Big Meal directed by Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Festival also included Artist Talks with Michael Gambon, David Hare, Anthony Horowitz, Kate Mosse, and Michael Billington. Touring shows presented at the Festival included Caroline Horton's You're Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy, Live Theatre's Captain Amazing and Confirmation by Chris Thorpe which transferred to the Edinburgh Festival where it won a Fringe First Award.

Outside the Festival HighTide produced the premiere of Vinay Patel's True Brits in the Edinburgh Festival, which will transfer to the Bush Theatre in November 2014.

Season 2015Edit

The ninth annual HighTide Festival enjoyed its inaugural year in the seaside town of Aldeburgh in 2015. The festival settled in to its new seaside home from 10th - 20th September 2015, bringing four brand new HighTide productions to the Suffolk Coast. In 2015, the festival presented premieres of BRENDA by E V Crowe, Harrogate by Al Smith, Lampedusa by Anders Lustgarten and So Here We Are by Luke Norris. All of our productions enjoyed transfers to exciting theatres across the country including Soho Theatre, The Yard, Royal Exchange, and for the first time, the Royal Court.

As always, the 2015 programme also featured an exciting array of readings, comedy, cabaret, live music and much more.

Season 2016Edit

HighTide Festival 2016 ran over ten days from 8th - 18th September in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The Festival showcased productions of Theresa Ikoko's Girls, Elinor Cook's Pilgrims, Anders Lustgarten's The Sugar Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie and Rob Drummond's In Fidelity. 2016 also marked HighTide's 10 year anniversary which was celebrated by the production of The Path. This promenade piece saw audiences listen to short plays through headsets, written by 7 HighTide alumni writers: Luke Barnes, E V Crowe, Vickie Donoghue, Thomas Eccleshare, Ella Hickson, Harry Melling and Vinay Patel. Of course, alongside all of this were a variety of readings, comedy, music, cabaret acts and more. Scroll down to take a look at the Festival 2016 programme in full.

Season 2017Edit

The Eleventh Annual HighTide Festival September 2017 Aldeburgh, Suffolk. This year at Aldeburgh new temporary theatre space called The Mix was created as part of the festival. It is a state-of-the-art, 260 seat theatre, and offered audiences a unique experience. With the support of Aldeburgh Town Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council and residents, it was able to presented on the Aldeburgh beach, situated in the heart of the town but crucially not taking up public space otherwise used for parking or recreation.

This year also had the first ever HighTide Festival in London - HighTide Festival Walthamstow - in partnership with Waltham Forest Council and Arts Council England and in association with the National Theatre. Over the course of 12 days, a diverse programme of outstanding live performance was created, including three headline theatre performances, comedy, cabaret and music. The hub was the Festival Square, situated in Walthamstow Town Square Gardens next to Walthamstow Central - only 20 minutes from central London. Here was the state-of-the-art temporary theatre, The Mix, the box office, bar and local food vendors. 26 September - 8 October 2017.

Season 2018Edit

On 11th-16th September 2018, the twelfth annual HighTide Festival of live performance in Suffolk was presented. This year saw HighTide's new Festival Hub launched, located in the Garage Gallery and featured our exhibition on set design. In 2018, HighTide partnered with Fishers gin who created the first HighTide Cocktail, and the hub featured fabulous bohemian furniture from Debenham Antiques.

HighTide Aldeburgh 2018 featured innovative and challenging work including five fantastic new productions direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Our headline production was not only by a young local writer, Tallulah Brown, but her touching coming of age play Songlines is set just up the coast in Reydon. Songlines features live music performed by the award-winning band, TRILLS, and music is a strong feature across this year’s programme. The opening night featured the acclaimed East Anglian poet and theatre maker Luke Wright, and the closing event on was Wonderful Beast’s latest project, their play The Last Woodwose, the sequel to Return of the Wildman, and featuring the superb Diana Quick.

In addition to the new Festival Hub, othe performances took place across the town in the Jubilee Hall, Pumphouse, Aldeburgh Cinema, Aldeburgh Beach Lookout and for the first time this year staging late night events in Ye Old Cross Keys. HighTide partnered with The Aldeburgh Bookshop on our literary In Conversations with novelists Kate Mosse and Patrick Gale, sponsored by Lansons in celebration of the award-winning ten year partnership.

2018 was a fantastic time for Waltham Forest and its residents ahead of becoming the first ever London Borough of Culture in 2019, and HighTide Festival was thrilled to return to Walthamstow for a second year of world-class live performance at affordable prices. At the heart of the festival was brand new theatre by the hottest emerging talent, several of whom are Waltham Forest residents. Building on incredible demand from the inaugural year, we presented an expanded family programme to keep young people (and their parents) thoroughly entertained.

In addition to othe contemporary theatre and family shows, the first ever Stars Over The Forest was presented, a talent showcase for young artists making waves in the borough; a sneak preview of Lil.Miss.Lady, a theatre-meets-rave concept exploring British Grime music and female MCs; big comedy names including The Horne Section and Phil Wang; music from all female group TRILLS; play readings of newly commissioned works, intimate gigs in the back of a van with Soul in the Van, late night comedy nights and loads more! The Festival Hub in Walthamstow Town Square Gardens was a hive of activity where audiences could enjoy food, coffee, the bar, and live music programmed at various times throughout the Festival.