Returning for its 17th year, this 10 day festival offers a bright and inspiring snapshot of contemporary theatre with established and emerging artists, both local and those from further afield.
Building on previous Pulse Festivals, this year’s programme carries on the successes of Suitcase Prize Day and Scratch Day with new work from returning companies, and even more high quality theatre coming from around the UK and further afield. There’s comedy, politics, music, animation, puppets, pop icons, antique dealers off the telly, autobiographical material and the downright fantastical –a few shows that look at the theme of death and, in turn, the lives it leaves behind.
Opening the festival on Thu 1 June are two performances by Edinburgh Fringe Festival successes Kieran Hodgson and Katie Bonna. Hailed as ‘The best live comedy to start 2017’ by The Guardian, Kieran Hodgson presents his second Edinburgh Comedy Award nominated smash-hit character comedy show MAESTRO, in which he returns to a symphony he wrote 13 years earlier, with a story about attempting something far beyond your abilities. Fringe First award winner Katie Bonna presents a fearlessly honest show for the post-truth era ALL THE THINGS I LIED ABOUT – part TED talk, part confession, unpicking how everyday lies can lead to a world of Trump and Brexit.
This year’s Suitcase Prize Day will see the 2016 winners On The Run return with their production TELL ME ANYTHING on Friday 2 June. Competitors for the 2017 prize include pieces from notnow Collective, This Egg, James McDermott, Lucy Grace, and Robin Doon Dale. The Suitcase Prize Day will take place on Fri 2 June.
Pulse Festival 2017 will see the first year of the Testing Ground Commission, presenting 3 new works at various stages of development which supports accessible and integrated theatre. On Sat 3 June as part of Scratch Day, Nicola Werenowska’s work in progress INVISIBLE gets to the heart of invisible disability. Working with Jeni Draper, artistic director of Fingersmiths, she experiments with physical form and drawing on real life experiences. On the same day Rachel Bagshaw presents an Edinburgh Festival preview of THE SHAPE OF THE PAIN following its work-in-progress in 2016. She returns to the festival with her new piece about love, perception and constant, relentless pain, co-commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre and the New Wolsey Theatre. On Sat 10 June, Kiruna Stamell and Rhona McKenzie present DISABILITY SEX ARCHIVE a creative project exploring disability, sex & relationships. A play currently in development, they will be reading a selection of monologues and text, testing new writing for the first time on a real audience.
Scratch Day on Saturday 3 June will feature a preview of a new PULSE commission by Victoria Melody UGLY CHIEF. Ugly Chief is a comedy based on true events performed by Victoria Melody and her father, TV antique dealer Mike Melody. It’s a eulogy for a living soul which explores the taboos around death and its practicalities, and the fractious relationship with a parent whose opinions you don’t always agree with.
On Friday 9 June, Shôn Dale-Jones performs his free show THE DUKE following its Fringe First Award-winning run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Duke is a new solo show from the multi-award winning writer/performer behind the much-loved Hugh Hughes. Exploring kindness, generosity and the value of what we do, Shôn will raise money for Save The Children’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal. The show is presented free to audiences, with donations to the charity welcomed.
On Saturday 10 June, 1927 present their international smash-hit dystopian fable GOLEM, which has previously performed in New York, Australia and London. Like a giant graphic novel burst into life, 1927 invites you to take a step through the looking glass into a dark and fantastical tale of an extraordinary ordinary man. Blending 1927’s synthesis of handmade animation, claymation, live music and performance, Golem is the follow up to 1927’s hit international shows The Animals and Children took to the Streets and The Magic Flute.
Other highlights of Pulse Festival 2017 includes: a scratch performance of a new play presented by People You May Know ST*P*D F*CK*NG K*DS, FellSwoop Theatre’s EUROHOUSE; Bryan Vincent and Dave McGinn’s LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE which showcased in the festival’s 2016 Scratch Day; Jack Rooke’s GOOD GRIEF which was recently adapted for BBC Radio 4; The Plasticine Men’s THERE SHALL BE FIREWORKS, and BORIS & SERGEY’S PREPOSTEROUS IMPROVISATION EXPERIMENT presented by Flabbergast Theatre.
Ed and Paul of China Plate, the festival’s co-curators, said:
“Once again the Pulse team have travelled the length and breadth of the country to bring together a body of work that will delight audiences from Ipswich and beyond celebrating the vibrancy of the UK theatre scene. Whilst we never programme Pulse Festival with a particular theme in mind, we aren’t afraid of the zeitgeist either and a quick look at the 2017 programme will reveal that there is currently a lot of work being made about death – maybe something to do with the extraordinary number of high profile deaths in 2016? Or seismic political events? Don’t be put off though, the theme is tackled in a fascinating variety of ways and the results are moving, memorable, celebratory, thought-provoking and in some cases downright hilarious. There is also more comedy in the festival than ever before – including the cracking double bill on opening night – and an unmissable end to the festival in the shape of 1927’s GOLEM. As always, there really is something for everyone and we’d encourage you to get in quick to avoid disappointment and to take advantage of the fantastic multiple ticket deals on offer. See you there.”
The Pulse Festival runs at and around the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich between Thu 1 – Sat 10 June 2017. Tickets can be booked by contacting the Ticket Sales team on 01473 295900 or by visiting the website at wolseytheatre.co.uk. See also: pulseipswich.co.uk.