The 17th Pulse Festival at the Wolsey Theatre is almost upon us, and, once again, a huge range of contemporary performance is being presented across the 10-day festival, from June 1st-10th. Still a teenager, the festival can afford to remain challenging, occasionally confrontational, but containing loads of promise! Picking out what may be worth seeing is always a tricky feat, as so much sounds exciting and deserves attention!
One thing the festival does really well is encourage new talent, and the Suitcase Prize day is a prime example of this. The prize is awarded for the best environmentally sustainable show that can be toured on public transport, and last year's winner, On The Run, will present their show, Tell Me Anything, at the end of the day. (2nd June) A new commission for this year, Testing Ground, is launched to develop new work by D/deaf and disabled artists and companies. Saturday 3rd June is Scratch Day, a menu of work in progress, and future hits are born here. Look out here for Sh!t Theatre’s Dolly Would, their new play about Dolly Parton, which is en route to the Edinburgh Festival.
The curators of the festival, China Plate, cheerfully admit that death is a major theme explored by many of this year’s companies, and this may reflect anxieties about the current political and world situation! Among the most intriguing is Victoria Melody’s Ugly Chief. Mike Melody, ITV antique dealer celebrity, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Victoria was put in charge of organising her father’s funeral- and a year later the doctor’s realised they had misdiagnosed Mike. But they are going ahead with his funeral anyway- Victoria trained as a funeral director to do the show after all! (June 3rd)
Then there are the gems from last year’s Edinburgh Festival. Fringe First winner The Duke weaves together the tragic-comic fate of a family heirloom- a porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington. And another Fringe First winner, Heads Up, is a powerful tale of a city on the edge. (Both June 9) And I can recommend Nick Cassenbaum’s Bubble Scmeisis with confidence, as I saw his wonderful piece about his family and the ritual of the Canning Town Schvitz. It is wonderful! (June 5th)
Dance Day, presented by Dance East, is on June 8th and features Still I rise, a wok in progress inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, Nora Talks, a discussion about creating dance, and Sarah Blanc presents It Started With Jason Donovan, where she recounts her past dating life through the songs of her fist love- Jason Donovan!
The festival stages its biggest show yet with the now legendary 1927’s production of Golem, seen at the Young Vic in 2014, and worldwide. It’s the penultimate show of Pulse on June 10th, and the remarkable staging alone will ensure a memorable experience!
There is truly something for everyone. Explore the brochure, and take a gamble on many of these highly affordable shows!