Paul T Davies previews the line-up at the Pulse Festival 2019 at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. Book Now!
Now a firmly established feature in the East Anglia theatre year, the Pulse Festival is about to open at the New Wolsey Theatre, with performances in a range of venues throughout the town. Curated by China Plate, the festival consists of work created through an open call application process and invited work, so we get to see some of the best touring productions currently out there, and new work at the scratch stage and development. Running from May 30th to June 8th, the strong line up has something for everyone!
Opening the festival on May 30th is China Plate’s production of Chris Thorpe’s Status, which has been garnering excellent reviews since originating from Battersea Arts Centre. We all have a nationality but Status is about someone who doesn’t want his anymore, about running away from the national story you’ve been given. It promises to be a powerful start to proceedings, and completing the double bill that night is Ad Libido, Fran’s quest for a “normal” sex life, which was one of The Guardian’s Best Shows of the Edinburgh 2018 Fringe.
Friday May 31st is Suitcase Prize Day, a unique feature of Pulse in which participants accept the challenge of presenting a scratch performance which can be transported on public transport! The prize is £1000 and the chance to develop the piece for a full performance.
Saturday 1st of June is the well-established scratch day, full of early work and potential, with feedback helping companies and performers to develop their work. The day does end, however, with Phoenix, the ultimate one-man band and Dad, and Max and Ivan: Commitment, a true story from Max and Ivan about trying to make it in the band.
Sunday 2nd June is Pay What You Can Day, and the line up here includes I Lost My Virginity to Chopin’s Nocturne in B Flat Minor, Trying to Find Me, Jeremiah and Essex Girl.
The triple bill Monday, June 3rd has a technological aspect. Lights! Planets! People! Is a new play by Molly Naylor in which renowned astronomer Maggie Hill is giving a lecture about her career, to inspire young women to work in science. She’s also attending her first ever therapy session, in order to overcome some debilitating anxiety. Both events force Maggie to examine her greatest achievements and biggest regrets. Instagramming The Apocalypse examines questions of trust in the era of fake news, and Rachel Mars returns to Pulse with her new show, Your Sexts Are Shit: Older Better Letters. Here letters from long-dead artists prove to be a lot more filthy and hotter than sexts sent in by anonymous donors!
The three shows on Tuesday, June 4th offer huge contrasts. Jade Byrne has had over 70,000 pricks- the medical kind, and in her show, Pricks, she sets the record straight about Type 1 diabetes. Then the wonderful Nick Cassenbaum returns to Pulse with his new show My Kind Of Michael. Ever since he was a kid, Nick has loved Michael Barrymore. In this heartfelt tribute, Nick invites you to experience the turbulent love affair between entertainer and audience. Cassenbaum is a superb storyteller with bags of charm, and this show has been wooing audiences since debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. The evening ends with The Ladder- A Portrait of My Father by the hugely popular Hoipoloi, whose work weaves the personal with the political.
A terrific double bill on Wednesday, June 5th offers How To Make a Killing in Bollywood, a show full of dance and music with a twist presented by Umar Butt & Manjot Sumal, and James Rowland’s hilarious, heart-lifting story of love and friendship, A Hundred Different Words For Love is not to be missed! Thursday, June 6th is the Pulse dance production, Rock Bottom, written and performed by Stuart Waters, staged at the Jerwood Dance House. Friday, June 7th offers Joey, a story about growing up in 80s Britain, care homes and playgrounds, three kids called spaz, dumbo and psycho and a kid called Joey Deacon who appeared on Blue Peter! This show is performed in BSL and spoken English. Writer and theatre-maker John Osbourne is back at Pulse with You’re In A Bad Way, his new show about dementia, family and music. The evening ends with We Can Time Travel, Dom Coyote’s sci-fi infused gig theatre show, which sounds like a lot of fun!
If all this wasn’t brilliant enough, the festival ends with a particularly fine closing day on June 8th. Kicking off the day is the return of festival favourites People You May Know, who present the first preview of This Is All For You- in which someone in this room will die in the next 45 minutes, and it may all be your fault! Then the action moves to the Black Horse pub for H5, where once more into the breach dear friends, because football’s coming home!” A radical retelling of Henry V, follow King Henry and his band of brothers as Shakespeare meets Southgate in the 2018 World Cup! Then it’s back to the New Wolsey Studio for the heats and showcase of Funny Women. Then an absolute treat as 1927 brings The Animals and Children Too To The Streets, a huge hit when staged at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith earlier this year. Live music, storytelling, animation and films come together in what is likely to be an unforgettable show. The festival then ends with character comedian Kieran Hodgson’s ’75, his take on how Britain joined Europe in the first place.
It’s a particularly strong line up this year, and even though each show can be bought individually, there are excellent deals on ticket prices so it’s worth making an evening- or day- of it!
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