Get your heart racing with Pulse

PULSE, Ipswich's fringe festival, is back. Today Andrew Clarke speaks to festival director Stephen Freeman about what audiences can expect from this year's event.

Andrew Clarke

PULSE, Ipswich's fringe festival, is back. Today ANDREW CLARKE speaks to festival director Stephen Freeman about what audiences can expect from this year's event.

IPSWICH'S Pulse Fringe Festival is back for its eighth year - offering audiences a wealth of new theatre, art, music and dance.

The event has been put together by the New Wolsey Theatre's general manager and festival director Stephen Freeman and is designed to bring together the very best of contemporary arts.

It offers Suffolk audiences the chance to see work in development, different types of performance, get a first glimpse of work destined for this year's Edinburgh Fringe as well as allowing up-coming writers, actors, musicians, dancers and choreographers the opportunity to try out new ideas and get immediate feedback from audiences thanks to a series of end-of-performance talk-back sessions.

This year the festival has spread its arms wider than ever, taking in the visual arts for the first time and filling theatres and a host of venues across Ipswich.

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Stephen said: “Pulse is an important platform and it's very exciting that Ipswich has become a showcase for new talent.

“The 8th Pulse Fringe Festival is set to get your heart racing with a heaving schedule of contemporary performing arts spanning all arts forms.”

For 18 days, Pulse offers an around-the-clock mini-season of events, live gigs and performances with 36 shows spanning theatre, dance, music, live and visual arts in six venues across Ipswich.

Established in 2001 by the New Wolsey Theatre, Pulse provides a platform for new and emerging artists and fresh approaches to performance across a variety of disciplines. He said that this year they had revised the application process to ensure that all productions had a life beyond Pulse - that they were going on to Edinburgh or other festivals, were going to be expanded and revised for further performances.

Stephen said: “The important thing for us is that they weren't just going to be seen in Pulse and then forgotten. They had to have a life away from here. Pulse had to be part of a developmental process.”

This year's programme features more talk-back opportunities than ever before.

Stephen said that these sessions would be a genuine two-way exchange, with audiences telling performers and writers what they think of the work and the companies asking questions of the audience too - trying to find out whether ideas that they tried to put across actually came through.

He added: “The audience's response to work at this point in its development is invaluable. It is also an interesting experience for the audience who rarely have an opportunity to contribute, and it's possible that some of this work will be developed further for Pulse 09, giving them the opportunity to see how the work has progressed.”

This is Stephen Freeman's first year as Pulse festival director and he is heartened that Pulse now has not only a local profile but also a national and international one.

“It's incredibly heartening to see submissions to take part from companies who work not only in this country but across Europe - people who are no strangers to Edinburgh or leading London venues,” he said.

“I think that Pulse offers an amazing opportunity for the residents of Ipswich and beyond to gain access to work that wouldn't ordinarily be performed in the town.

“Instead of being a random selection of disparate projects, what we have in this year's festival is a sharply focussed distillation of cutting edge, modern arts in this country. At the end of the day what we are about is attracting the very best performers and companies to Ipswich. At the end of the day it's always about quality.”

Visit for this year's performance schedule and for lots more information about Pulse events. Pulse runs from May 29 to June 14. Tickets range from £3 to £7 and can be booked on 01473 295900.


Beachy Head

What: Drama - an exploration of the lives that end at the base of the famous landmark.

When: May 29 - 30

Where: New Wolsey Theatre


What: Visual theatre - a provocative, seductive and highly visual update of Euripides' classic Greek tragedy.

When: June 14

Where: New Wolsey Theatre

The Mother's Bones

What: Drama - the story of three generations of women and their relations to each other.

When: June 12

Where: Sir John Mills Theatre

The Visible Men

What: Comedy dance - serious and silly in equal measure - The Visible Men creates a world where the familiar laws of physics are unreliable.

When: June 7

Where: New Wolsey Theatre

A Mother Speaks

What: Drama - A mother's suffering and pain after the loss of a child.

When: June 5

Where: New Wolsey Studio


What: Dance - which confronts love, life and sexuality and becoming 25. When: June 13

Where: New Wolsey Theatre


What: Comedy thriller.

When: June 8

Where: New Wolsey Studio

One, Nineteen

What: Drama - set against the backdrop of coastal floods.

When: June 7

Where: New Wolsey Studio

Nightmare Café

What: Drama - a cabaret of fears with grotesque burlesque, vaudeville, music and magic set in absurd gothic eatery. When: June 6Where: The Regent theatre Circle Lounge


What: Drama/music - the story of tenor Caruso as he battles his way across earthquake ravaged San Francisco in 1906.When: June 3

Where: New WolsEy Studio

The Naked Soul of Kirk Godless (part one)

What: Comedy - the peculiar and delightful world of Tam Hinton.

When: June 12

Where: New Wolsey Studio