Pulse Fringe Festival 2012 preview

Expect the unexpected say the team behind this year’s Pulse Fringe Festival. Entertainments writer WAYNE SAVAGE takes a look at what’s in store for audiences.

Fifty-two shows over 13 days, performed everywhere from campervans to a cupboard; Pulse likes to keep audiences on their toes.

“This year’s festival will take audiences into a number of unexpected performance spaces, but we also present work on the street – Three Step Endeavour by Holly Darton, Dot Howard and Vicki Weitz, the UK’s first professional hopscotch team and Write a Letter to a Stranger by Rajni Shah Projects which invites you to write a letter to a stranger and to get a letter in return,” says Pulse director Emma Bettridge.

“We even have a show where the audience decides if they want to pay and how much. It’s called Hannah Ringham’s Free Show (Bring Money) and when she performed it in London she made �280. I wonder if Pulse audiences will be so generous?”

Pulse has established itself at the very core of the arts in the Eastern Region, giving artists a safe and carefully honed platform to try new things and the chance for audiences to take risks.

Home-grown talent is crucial to the future of how the festival works, as a place where things begin their life in an environment that goes out of its way to support new and exciting work.

“There’s an incredible appetite in the region for the arts and it’s the perfect place to present a festival like Pulse because audiences want to take risks, want to try new things and are keen to support the development of new talent,” adds Emma.

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“My role as curator is to ensure I select the most exciting work and provide a broad range of experience for the audience. I’m very pleased with this year’s programme and proud the likes of The Other Way Works, Look Left Look Right, Laura Mugridge, Bryony Kimmings, Ira Brand and many others choose to present work here.”

Another priority this year has been scheduling shows so audiences can see almost everything so there are some random start times. It’s all been programmed to make it possible to move from one show to the next without breaking into a sweat. You can read more about that in future editions of Star Event.

Emma is particularly excited that Pulse 12 hosts the world premiere of The Campsite, one of two pieces commissioned by the New Wolsey Theatre this year; the other being a new play by Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm.

Campsite is a collective of vintage campervans and caravans, which will become tiny performance venues housing music gigs, puppet shows, poetry, film and art installations.

The idea was hatched by Tom Frankland and Laura Mugridge after she toured the UK with her show Running on Air, which was performed to five audience members at once in her VW campervan, Joni.

The experience of performing to such an intimate audience, coupled with the difficulties of mounting such a tiny production, led them to try to create a mobile venue to support other artists creating this work on this scale.

This time there are even more vehicles, creating a campsite experience for audience members who can climb inside a van to see a performance then have a drink round the campfire. It’s a way of supporting new, infeasible and impractical theatre, music and film.

“Pulse is going to be fantastic as we have a great place to park up for the first time, a lovely leafy area in the centre of Ipswich. Pulse is the big launch of The Campsite and we are really excited about the artists we have on board. It is going to be a great place to pitch up,” says Laura.

The inaugural Campsite pitch will be found in St George’s Street inside and around a collection of vintage vehicle and caravans, comprising two theatre spaces a music venue and a mini-cinema.

It’s not the only first for this year’s Pulse.

The festival, which runs from May 25-June 9, will present new work and scratch performances from Dan Canham (Our Was The Fen Country), Mimi Poskitt (The BP Story), Hugh Hughes (Stories from an Invisible Town), Tom Frankland (Don Quijote), Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna (Dirty Great Love Story), Sam Halmarack and Tom Wainwright (Psychodrama), Sara Pascoe (Emily’s Very Sad Play) and Jammy-Voo (Birdhouse).

There’ll also be work from established artists including Neil Brand (The Silent Pianist Speaks), Laura Mugridge (The Watery Journey of Nereus Pike), Mamoru Iriguchi (Projector Conjector), Shams (Thin Ice), Little Bulb (Goose Party), Bryony Kimmings (Mega!), Filskit Theatre (Snow White) and The Karavan Ensemble (Anima).

One of the first shows is Avon Calling by The Other Way Works, which you book to perform in your home for yourself and up to nine friends where you can celebrate beauty in all its forms and uncover the secrets that lurk beneath your visitors’ perfectly polished exterior.

The closing show is The Furies, from Birmingham’s Kindle Theatre, who mash together rock, metal and soul songs in a drastic retelling of the ancient story of Clytemnestra.

“Pulse is one of the ways in which the New Wolsey identifies extraordinary new talent and helps to develop new work,” says the theatre’s chief executive Sarah Holmes.

“Nurturing new talent is one of our key priorities and as festival curator, Emma creates extraordinary opportunities for audiences to see an extraordinary range of work in a short period of time.

“It can be an incredibly fulfilling experience for all involved and especially for audiences who are invited to feed into the development process and therefore make a genuine contribution to the development of new work.”

PULSE is supported by Escalator, an Arts Council England East initiative which aims to identify, nurture and develop artistic talent in the region.

This year’s festival includes work from ten Escalator supported companies: Holy Rumble presenting An Audio Guide to Varo’s Harmony, Sean Gittens presenting Til Debt Do us Part, Sh!t Theatre presenting Job Seekers Anonymous, Tatty-del presenting tatty-del are Making it Work, Shams presenting Thin Ice, Molly Naylor and The Middle Ones presenting My Robot Heart, Ira Brand presenting Keine Angst, Hunt and Darton Bar, Look Left Look Right presenting The BP Story and Chris Thorpe and Hannah Jane Walker presenting The Oh **** Moment.

Claudia West, relationship manager, theatre, Arts Council England, says Pulse is one of the region’s most exciting festivals.

“Since its inception, it has gone from strength to strength. With 52 shows, a new and innovative venue, an eclectic mix of performance artists, including a whole host of emerging talent, this year’s festival promises to be the most vibrant yet.

“The Arts Council’s Escalator programme is geared towards nurturing and developing artistic talent in the region, so it’s great to see ten of our Escalator-supported companies featuring in this year’s line-up.”

David Edwards, chairman of the New Wolsey board, says the theatre is very proud of the festival’s contribution to the overall programme of the New Wolsey and what it offers the community.

“Pulse is at the centre of our programme of developing the work of new artists, offering really valuable opportunities to emerging artists to have their work seen by our discerning critical audiences.

“Sitting, or indeed standing, in venues ranging from our own studio, to a caravan in the town centre or even someone’s living room, we can laugh, cry and be amazed and inspired by the work of these emerging artists.”

Tickets for PULSE 12 are on sale now. Don’t miss more festival updates in Star Event and at www.ipswichstar.co.uk

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