News: HighTide announce Disruption season at Assembly Roxy

After the success of their 2018 HighTide: Edinburgh programme, HighTide have now partnered with Assembly to present Disruption, their programme of contemporary new writing exclusively at Assembly Roxy. The six pieces chosen demonstrate HighTide and Assembly Festival’s shared vision for new writing as a space of political, contemporary and provocative work, created by new, diverse artists. HighTide is renowned for the discovery of new playwrights, including Ella Hickson, Nick Payne and Vinay Patel, and the Disruption season sees HighTide writers premiere at the world’s largest arts festival ahead of performances at HighTide Festivals Aldeburgh and Walthamstow.

From HighTide’s home county, East Anglian writer Kenny Emson’s Rust is the centrepiece of HighTide’s programme, following performances at London’s Bush Theatre who co-produce the production. Also headlining will be Collapsible by Irish writer Margaret Perry, Pops which sees Charlotte Josephine return to Edinburgh with her first piece solely as a writer and a double bill of shows presented with The Queer House from writers Teddy Lamb and Mia Johnson. Finally, demonstrating Assembly’s commitment to supporting Scottish new writing, Kevin P. Gilday’s Suffering From Scottishness completes the curated programme.

Disruption references the type of shows in the season, and the approach to producing them through an open call. Disruption shows HighTide’s continued commitment to supporting exciting theatre makers and providing them with the very best platform to be heard.

Steven Atkinson, Artistic Director of HighTide, commented: “I am thrilled to be concluding my Artistic Directorship of HighTide by championing this outstanding group of six bold new artists; Kenny Emson, Kevin P. Gilday, Mia Johnson, Charlotte Josephine, Teddy Lamb and Margaret Perry. We’re collaborating with our partners Bush Theatre, Ellie Keel Productions, Live Theatre, Jake Orr Productions, The Queer House and Sonnet Youth to present a unique programme of ambitious new writing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 as part of Disruption at Assembly Roxy.”

Artistic Director Assembly Festival, William Burdett-Coutts added: “We are delighted to be partnering with HighTide to present this programme of contemporary work during the Festival. Assembly recognises the value of showcasing new work in Edinburgh in August, and we hope that our support will ensure that these contemporary theatre makers are given the best platform to present their work to the world’s media, and the hundreds of thousands of people who come here to enjoy the best arts festival in the world.”

In addition to the six productions, Disruption will feature a programme of events throughout the month in keeping with the season’s commitment to contemporary and provocative work. These additional events will be announced at a later date.

Rust is about pushing the boundaries of trust, love and lust to the limit in this ultra-contemporary, sexy and funny production from Kenny Emson (Plastic, Old Red Lion) and directed by Eleanor Rhode (King John, Royal Shakespeare Company, Boudica, Shakespeare’s Globe). Nadia and Daniel have just signed for a flat. Under a pseudonym, naturally. After years of married life, this is their chance to start again. But, as much as they redefine the rules, the outside world is closing in. Rust is a love story about two people who didn’t expect to fall in love again. It’s about the societal pressures that can sometimes trap us, preventing us from chancing something or someone new.

Collapsible (winner of VAULT Festival 2019’s Origin Award for Outstanding New Work) is a funny, furious new monologue about holding on in this collapsing world, by award-winning Irish writer Margaret Perry (Porcelain, Abbey Theatre), directed by Thomas Martin (Ross and Rachel). Following the life of a complex, funny bisexual woman, it looks at the difficulties of finding connections to people when you don’t feel connected to yourself. Blending a fearless, psychologically acute female performance with a set intervention that appears to float the performer in the air, we see that the protagonist, despite everyone’s protestations, quite literally doesn’t have her feet on the ground.

Margaret Perry commented: “This is a story about work, identity and trying to wade out of the dark, inspired by a period in my life when I was unemployed and began to stop feeling like a person. The story of a young queer woman who starts to lose track of where she stops and the world starts, I wrote this play for anyone who’s ever felt crumbly.”

Pops from award-winning writer Charlotte Josephine (Bitch Boxer, Blush), directed by Ali Pidsley of Barrel Organ, and co-produced by Live Theatre, follows a father and daughter caught in a cycle of addiction. Despite everything, they’re really trying to honestly connect, forgive the unforgivable and love fiercely through a hopeless situation. Asking challenging questions about mental health, Pops looks at what is inherited and who is responsible, particularly in this harsh political climate. There are stubborn stigmas around mental health, particularly for the working class, and Pops seeks to tell a story that rids people of self-inflicted shame.

Charlotte Josephine said: “The cruelness of austerity is, of course, that it damages those who need the most support. The tabloids enjoy spreading lies that addiction is a choice, an ignorance, a greedy self-indulgence. It’s hard to get well when the national narrative is repeatedly insisting you’re bad, not sick. Shame is a killer, and the antidote to shame is empathy. Story telling is empathy making, and there’s no better art form for story telling than live theatre. We need it, now more than ever.”

An exciting double bill between HighTide and The Queer House sees Since U Been Gone by Teddy Lamb and Mia Johnson’s Pink Lemonade alternate performances every day. Lamb’s moving autobiographical account of growing up queer in the East Midlands, finding yourself, and losing a friend is brought to life in Since U Been Gone with storytelling and an original pop music score. Johnson’s Pink Lemonade is a multi-disciplinary solo show, exploring masculinity and lesbianism in Black womxn. Fusing spoken word, bashment, original sound and movement, Pink Lemonade deconstructs micro-aggressions and explores the discourse around the fetishism of Black and Brown bodies.

An immersive theatrical experience that confronts the unique absurdity of Scottish identity, Suffering From Scottishness from award-winning writer and spoken word artist Kevin P. Gilday (Sonnet Youth, National Theatre of Scotland, BBC) turns a hilariously caustic eye on notions of nationhood and patriotism. From history to inventions, language to neighbourly relations, the Scottish independence referendum to the toxic mire of present political debate – Citizen Scotland invite audiences to take part in a focus group that will define the very future of the nation, for better or worse as they gleefully dissect the dark heart of the country.

The shows by Kenny Emson, Margaret Perry, Charlotte Josephine, Teddy Lamb and Mia Johnson will headline HighTide’s festivals in Aldeburgh (10 – 15 September) and Walthamstow (17 – 22 September) which will go on sale on 30 May 2019.

For more information visit

Photo credit: Jassy Earl

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