Following a run at London’s Ambassador’s Theatre, The National Youth Theatre are preparing to bring Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife to Suffolk’s Latitude Festival. The Public Reviews caught up with cast membersAnna Spearpoint, Grace Stotesbury, Helena Antoniou, Maria Shury-Smith and Alice Brittain and set them the challenge of answering our Latitude Lowdown questions (no conferring now!).
How would you describe your show in one sentence?
AS – ‘herstory’, not ‘history’ – setting the records straight.
HA– It’s a poetry reading that’s not quite a poetry reading with lots of fancy cardboard.
Is this your first visit to the Latitude Festival, if so what interesting tales have you been told about what to expect?
GS – Latitude was my first festival at age 15and now it’s my first festival performance! I’m excited to return, this time not as a member of the audience but performing!
MS – I’ve been told to expect less mud than Glastonbury but a similar likelihood of my tent dying a slow painful death during the festival.
AB-This is my first festival…ever. I’ve been told this is a good, arts-filled festival for an entry level person like myself, so I’m preparing for mud but also an even mix of spectacle, hilarity, and maybe a little dip in the lake.
How has the show developed on the way to Latitude?
AS – We’ve been working on the piece on and off for a fair few weeks now so it’s matured with age! It’s great working with both poetry and actual real life people because, each time we look at the characters, we find some new level of nuance in the poem or have found something fascinating about the person they’re based on between rehearsals. We’ve been working on getting really clear characters so we can seamlessly transition between poems.
AB– While we’re performing in the poetry tent, it is very much a piece of theatre. Duffy’s writing definitely helps with that, these wonderfully dramatic monologues from some astonishing women. There have been moments while rehearsing where I’ve gone, oh God, this is going to be on the poetry stage at Latitude, I’ve really got to do this writing justice.
How do you think a festival audience will differ from a traditional theatre audience?
GS– The play was previously shown at Ambassadors Theatre, a traditional theatre. Through showing it at Latitude in a poetry tent, it reaches both theatre and poetry lovers, and even chance passers-by, reaching a new diverse audience. A festival audience is perhaps a younger crowd, making feminism, theatre and poetry more accessible to everyone.
MS– Essentially, it is much easier for a festival audience member to walk off the second their attention wavers, which is simultaneously scary and liberating as at least you know the audience you have in front of you genuinely want to be there.
How have you been preparing for festival life?
AS – I’ve been eyeing up the mini toiletries for a while now. We have big plans for festival fun – there will be lots of bunting, pompoms and glitter involved. I’m bringing my pompom-making skills to the team.
GS – We used music to access the characters’ feelings and emotions, matching each poem with a song, which was fitting with the music festival venue.
HA – I put my tent up in the living room to see if I could and then took it down in the space of over 3 hours. There were bruises.
MS– I have been savouring warm showers, stocking up on wet wipes and revising card games.
AB-Holding my breath, mainly, for going anywhere near the loos. I’ve also practised fumbling around in the dark and patiently queuing. I think I’m getting quite good.
What do you think sets your show apart from all the other Latitude offerings?
AS – There’s something for everyone! It’s poetry, great theatre and a feminist anthem. And totally diverse – one minute Frau Freud’s letting loose on her husband’s genitalia then you’re hearing from Myra Hindley (smoothly transitioned…)
GS – The show is special because it’s an all-female cast, with a female director, written by a female poet and about incredible women, which is rare in the theatre world. It gives voice to women throughout history and literature who otherwise would have been overshadowed
What’s the show that you don’t want to miss at this year’s Latitude (apart from your own!)?
HA– Laura M-to-the-arling for sure.
MS– I’m thrilled that both Kneehigh and Paines Plough will be at Latitude and can’t wait to catch their shows
AB– There are some amazing theatre companies that I don’t want to miss, like Frantic Assembly and Kneehigh. But I’m desperate to see Laura Marling’s set. I’m just a massive fan of her music and really hoping I accidentally-on-purpose bump into her and become her best friend.
Wellies or fancy footwear for the festival?
MS– Definitely Wellies, with a bit of decoration they can be fancy too!
AB – Wellies, definitely. Chances are I’ll fall in the lake.
Are you camping at Latitude and if so what’s your one top camping tip?
AS – Really boring top tip: glow in the dark tent pegs, to save the ankles of anyone camping in your vicinity (and help you find your tent) – sold at most good pound shops.
GS– Sun cream. Suffolk sun is surprisingly strong and a fresh burn in a sweaty mosh pit isn’t fun.
MS– Don’t be picky about where you put your tent, if you’re making the most of the festival you’ll be out and about half the time.
Latitude is famous for its multi-coloured sheep – if your show was an animal what type of animal would it be?
AS – Queen Bee.
GS – Queen Kong is one of many. The women in The World’s Wife are so diverse, I think there would be a whole zoo, however, definitely some lionesses and she-wolfs
HA – A turtle with a shell made of cardboard. We win the race – whatever we may be wearing ;)
MS– A chameleon because each character can be seen in a different way by each audience member.
AB– It’s got to be a lioness, hasn’t it? But maybe multi-coloured too, for the fabulous-ness.
The National Youth Theatre will be performing The World’s Wife in the Poetry Arena at Latitude.
Photo: Ed Clark