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Star helps secure festival's future

PUBLISHED: 17:46 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 07:20 01 August 2010

A THEATRE festival which organisers feared might not have enough cash to carry on has secured its future after an appeal from Hollywood star Bill Nighy.

A THEATRE festival which organisers feared might not have enough cash to carry on has secured its future after an appeal from Hollywood star Bill Nighy.

The HighTide theatre and film festival in Halesworth will be going ahead at the beginning of May, and Sir Tom Stoppard and Michael Palin will both be taking part.

Last month, Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually star Bill Nighy appealed for people to support the festival, saying that it was £30,000 short of the cash it needed. Now private investors have come forward to help plug the funding gap, and organisers hope that public support for the festival enables it to carry on.

HighTide, from May 1 to 5, will see playwright Sir Tom Stoppard in conversation with Guardian columnist and Radio 4 presenter Mark Lawson. Travel broadcaster and former Monty Python member Michael Palin will be taking part in a question-and-answer session after a screening of East of Ipswich, his 1987 drama about seaside resorts which was filmed in Southwold.

Festival spokesman Matthew Austin said: “We have still got money to raise, but we are now in a position where we can go ahead. Various individuals have come forward to support us, so we are really grateful to them.

“We have managed to save money on certain aspects of the festival. We have also had non-financial support from people in Suffolk - anything from rooms for artists to stay in to people putting up signs on their land.”

The festival, which is also supported by Sir David Hare, Sinead Cusack and Sally Greene OBE, was set up to support the development of new theatre talent. It will feature four new productions from emerging playwrights, plus short and feature films. The new plays are: I Caught Crabs in Walberswick by Suffolk writer Joel Horwood, which is going on to the Edinburgh Festival and then touring; Switzerland by Nick Payne; Stovepipe by Adam Brace; and Certain Dark Things by the international devising company You Need Me.

Mr Austin said the festival would return for several years to come. “The idea is that Suffolk will become the hub and that productions may travel around the country. We will certainly be in Suffolk for the next few years.”

To book tickets, call the box office on 0845 673 2123. Organisers are also keen to hear from anyone who wants to volunteer as a steward or who can offer accommodation to members of the company. E-mail info@hightidefestival.org or visit www.hightidefestival.org

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