Ipswich’s Pulse Festival 2011 ready to entertain

Pulse returns next month, dragging theatre out of, well the theatre and into shops, vans, somebody’s kitchen and even the back of a bike or four. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE talks to festival director Emma Bettridge about the fun heading your way.

Pulse is a bit like the naughty sister of the New Wolsey, laughs Emma.

“She comes in, does a pink vomit everywhere while crashing and banging around for two-and-a-half weeks.

“We’re testing the boundaries of our older brother as it were, playing, experimenting and looking at new things.”

It’s the perfect way to describe the annual festival, featuring around 50 shows of every type of performance art you can think of and then some, running from May 26-June 11.

Audience participation is a recurring theme, but Emma says there’s no need to be frightened.

“There are so many extremes of participatory theatre, things where you get involved or where you have to get up on stage – like the traditional hypnotist’s ‘can I have a volunteer’.

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“What I think I’m bringing is the slightly, not softer, but more accessible approach for people to look into that sort of theatre.

You can see it as a piece of theatre but you’ve got a chance to immerse yourself as much as you want; you’re calling the shots, the company isn’t.”

Point in case, The Knowledge Emporium; where you can pop in to their caravan to share anything from an old family recipe to a childhood memory which then forms part of a later show.

The festival is also a chance to see new work from some of the area and country’s best and emerging talent.

“That’s always exciting; you can say ‘I saw that when it was at the Wolsey all those years ago and now it’s doing this’. I think that’s nice.”

There’s plenty to see.

“God yes,” she sighs. “We’ve lost a couple because of the big arts slash, so people couldn’t afford to put their show on which is very sad. I think there’s a nice mixture in there.

“You’ve these kind of site specific things like a show at Arlington’s and people out on bikes, which give a real element of fun and something a little bit different.”

Which brings us to putting Emma in the tricky spot of if you can only see ten Pulse shows this year what shows would she suggest.

“It’s hard for me to go ‘yes, these are definitely the ones’,” she says.

I suggest it’s like spinning the lazy Susan at a Chinese restaurant and trying a bit of everybody else’s meals; or the prawn crackers that whet your appetite for the rest of the meal. I confess to not having eaten yet, hence the food symbolism.

“That is a great allegory for it,” she laughs. “They all knit together quite nicely but are all different. It’s a nice little sum of the festival, just as a place to start.

“You’ll go see one and if you like that maybe you’ll like this one and maybe next year see 11 and so on. Go have a good time, be experimental. That’s what Pulse does.”

Tickets for Pulse 2011 go on sale Tuesday, April 26.

These are the ten shows Emma suggests you try:

HOW TO BE A LEADER - Tim Clare, show + tell

Ever wished you could summon dark legions to crush all who oppose you? Would you like to be a more confident public speaker? Award-winning author, poet and stand-up Tim Clare is here to help via stand-up, video and battle raps from some of the most influential women in history.

BABYBOXES - Bootworks

Four unique, short performances are presented in brightly coloured, self-contained stages mounted on top of tricycles integrating everything from a talking head/performer-in-a-box to film, puppetry, dance, sound or sculpture.

JOSH’S MONSTERS - Multi Story Theatre Company in association with Beaford Arts

Josh is about to leave for a second tour of duty in Afghanistan. With mum Chrissie in the kitchen baking and dad Doug holed-up in the cellar with his computers, refusing to accompany his wife to the send-off, they communicate by Skype.

WOULD BE NICE THOUGH - Holly Bodmer and Dot Howard

Two job candidates await their interviews. Uncomfortable and amusing, it recreates that claustrophobic environment of sharp suits, blue stationary and an horrendous desire to be swallowed up.


For two days in Tower Ramparts, Brian will asking passers-by to sell him a minute of their life for �1. In June those filmed minutes will be unveiled in the New Wolsey Theatre foyer. Translating into seize the minute, this playfully explores themes of economy, the value of our time and our work and what it means to sign away your soul.

WHEN WE MEET AGAIN - Me and the Machine

A wearable film and one-to-one performance. Video filmed from a first person perspective will be displayed on video goggles replacing your point of view wikth someone else’s.

WORLD OF WRONG - The Two Wrongies

It’s dance, it’s comedy, it’s theatre. It’s funny, it’s tongue-in-cheek and it’s daring. It has some serious bits and some rude bits – welcome to the strange and schizophrenically chaotic world of The Two Wrongies.


A story told in a hotel room, on the other side of the world, by a man who’s had a hell of a journey to get there. He is tired, drunk, and with someone he’s only just met. A one hour ramble over cosmology, peanuts and the brace position. The man is Chris and the story is true.


We all know at least one thing that no one else knows. An old-fashioned sweetshop in a converted 1950s airstream caravan. Trade something you know for childhood sweets like flying saucers and sherbet lemons.

At the end of the week, they will create a performance solely formed of the knowledge shared by you and your fellow sweet-lovers, celebrating the collective knowledge of our community.

RUNNING ON AIR - Laura Mugridge

Performed in a vintage, yellow VW campervan called Joni parked outside the New Wolsey Theatre, this award-winning show by comedian Laura is performed for just five audience members at a time.

Recreating the beauty of the great outdoors inside the campervan, she invites you on an intimate journey from Land’s End to Edinburgh, sharing her experience of marriage, camping and her love of the good life.

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