Gallery: Everything you wanted to know about PULSE Festival 2015 but were afraid to ask
- Credit: Archant
Think of this year’s PULSE Festival as Ipswich’s newest restaurant, with plenty to suit all palates. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage listened to what the team behind this year’s event had to say.
Think of us as your waiters or sommelier says Paul Warwick of PULSE Festival curators China Plate. If you’re not sure what to try from the menu of 50-plus shows, they’re here to guide you through.
For starters there’s a double-bill of Total Theatre award-winning theatre - Barely Methodical’s energetic circus piece Bromance and Idle Motion’s That Is All You Need to Know, which lifts the lid on events at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
“Barely Methodical are described in the media as the hottest young circus act in Britain. A contemporary circus, there’s a narrative running through it. It’s an absolutely brilliant show, one of the big hits at Edinburgh last year.
“Idle Motion’s show is a physical theatre piece, but again very narrative driven about Alan Turing and the extraordinary men and women who cracked the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
“For people who have never been to Pulse before, these are two shows you could really enjoy. I would say that, like everything in PULSE, it’s a bit different to some of the programming that goes on during the year - that’s the point - but it’s very palatable and easy to digest,” says Warwick.
For PULSE audiences who like strong flavours, the sort who’d go for something with a three chilli rating when ordering their Indian takeaway, there are shows like The Ted Bundy Project from Greg Wohead which looks at our fascination and morbid curiosity with serial killers. There’s also Grey Scale’s War is Boring, War is Fun.
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“You might remember Grey Scale last year did a piece called Gods Have Fallen. It was memorable for me because I had to get up afterwards and try to sell fish baps or whatever it was in the kitchen being sold that night and I couldn’t speak because I was blubbing so much. It was a really moving piece and this sounds like it’s going to be the same,” says Warwick.
The new show is based on diaries the company’s artistic director wrote as a teenager during the Balkans conflict in the 1990s.
Those with similar tastes will enjoy Chris Brett Bailey’s This is How We Die, described by one London critic as more like a rite of passage than a theatre show.
At the other end of the spectrum there’s work for the milder palate that’s no less subtle or full of flavour.
“Things like Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing, a beautiful show about a young boy whose mum has mental health problems so he writes a list of every reason for her to stay alive because she’s been contemplating taking her own life, a really moving piece.
“Wot? No Fish!! on the last night is a terrific piece of work by Bread and Circuses about a guy who discovered thousands of pay packets his great uncle had given to his wife every Friday night and on each one he’d drawn a little cartoon.
“They tell the story of this family of Jewish immigrants in Britain during the early part of the 20th Century - this guy’s arrival in England, his marriage, the birth of
his children, all of that. So these are proper accessible shows, real tearjerkers full of heart.”
Into your Fairtrade, organic, ethical food? There’s the Suitcase Prize Day. Returning for a third year, it’s PULSE’s attempt to encourage theatre-makers to think about
environmental sustainability in the way they make work.
“The simple rule is every show that appears on that day is tourable on public transport, with the set and costumes carried by people who are in the show. There’ll be
about 10 shows that day, one of which will receive the suitcase prize which is £1,000.”
Occasionally, some of us get the chance to leave the restaurant and go back to the kitchen to see what the chefs are up to. That’s the premise behind the Scratch Days.
“It’s not about the finished stuff but actually seeing work still being made. On the first Saturday of the festival there’s an opportunity to see a huge amount of work that’s still in development. The artists are here to try out new ideas, get feedback from audiences and talk to you about the work. So it’s a chance to get your fingers in the mixing bowl if you like and get involved in work that’s still being made,” adds Warwick.
The day finishes with this year’s Spring Festival Commission - made up of Sprint, Watch Out, Mayfest, Pulse and Latitude Festival - Action Hero’s Wrecking Ball. Read by an audience and two performers, it’s the story about a male celebrity photographer and a female celebrity; a conversation about consent, authorship and putting words in
other people’s mouths and what it really means to say yes.
This year’s PULSE Festival runs at various venues, May 28-June 6. Visit www.wolseytheatre.co.uk for full show details.