Ipswich: Town scoops Dr Who show tour

IPSWICH: Our county town has landed one of the major gigs of Britain’s Cultural Olympiad – a Doctor Who mega-show – The Evening Star can reveal today.

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations we can reveal full details of the June/July extravaganza, named The Crash of the Elysium, which will take place just before the Olympic Games.

An extended series of shows – in which audience participation is key and ticket holders are heroes - will take place in a special giant set in central Ipswich over three weeks from mid-June to early July.

Sources in Manchester, where the Elysium show played to more than 200,000 thrilled guests earlier this year, and London are chuffed a multi-agency partnership has pulled off such a world-class show – when the world is watching Britain.

Last night a veil of secrecy was thrown over the event – with Ipswich Borough Council officials tight-lipped about the event but Suffolk County Council, official partners in the project, are quietly delighted at the coup.

Details of tickets for the event, likely to be the hottest acquisition of the spring and summer, will be revealed in late January.

And there are high hopes that Dr Who himself, Matt Smith, could make an impromptu Ipswich appearance – replicating what his arrival in Manchester when he wowed that day’s audience.

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Crash of the Elysium has been a triumph for its organisers, Punchdrunk, which organised what critics described as “sheer perfection” when the show took place in Salford as part of Manchester’s International Festival in July this year.

Now the show is travelling south and east – and the Ipswich gig is a major collaboration between national and local groups.

The Evening Star understands that Arts Council England has confirmed funding for the event, from June 15 to July 8 – it taking place over a similar time span to that in Salford, at MediaCity, back in July.

Other partners are LOCOG - The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – Suffolk County Council, The New Wolsey Theatre, the Manchester International Festival, and Ipswich Borough Council.

Crash of the Elysium was created by Felix Barrett, creative guru for Punchdrunk, and writer Tom MacRae, who wrote Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel, and the story is based on an idea by series head writer Steven Moffat.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad & London 2012 Festival, said: “I’m delighted that we can confirm that Ipswich will be the host for this brilliant show. The production will be a highlight of the London 2012 Festival and is sure to be a hot ticket. Our thanks go to Arts Council England for their funding support.”

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “This is fantastic news and something the Council is really pleased to be a partner in. The Crash of the Elysium will be a huge event for Ipswich and the region in 2012. It will also be a welcome boost for the local economy as it will bring thousands of people into the town. I would like to thank all our partners who will be helping us to put this together next June.”

Sarah Holmes, New Wolsey Theatre chief executive said: “We are very proud and excited to welcome the world-renowned Punchdrunk to the east for the first time but doing so as part of the London 2012 Festival and working with London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and with Manchester International Festival makes it even more exciting.

“The Crash of the Elysium will undoubtedly be one of the cultural highlights of the 2012 celebrations and it’s happening in Suffolk. This is an incredible opportunity and one not to miss.”

Kathy Gosling, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for sport, culture, diversity, health and wellbeing, said: “Suffolk County Council has been working hard to make sure the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games leaves a positive legacy for Suffolk. This news is a welcome boost to our ongoing campaign to capture some of the magic of the Games for local people to experience and enjoy. We are delighted to be working with London 2012, the New Wolsey Theatre, the Arts Council and Ipswich Borough Council to bring The Crash of the Elysium to Suffolk to our county town.”

Andrea Stark, Executive Director, Arts Council England, said: “We are thrilled to support Ipswich Borough Council and the New Wolsey Theatre in their presentation of Punchdrunk’s live Doctor Who adventure The Crash of the Elysium. It’s great to see a high-quality show with such universal appeal coming to the East of England. As a principal funder of the Cultural Olympiad, the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic movements, we are especially pleased that The Crash of the Elysium will form part of this. Its inclusion in the London 2012 Festival will bring unprecedented and well deserved national profile to Ipswich and the region.”

Tickets will be available from the New Wolsey Theatre in early 2012, for more details visit www.london2012.com/festival.