The PULSE Festival is 10 this year and from the promising programme it’s boasting it seems to only be improving with age. Peppered around the city in a variety of venues from pubs and hotels to studio theatres and town halls, performances in all shapes and forms are popping up in front of an eclectic Ipswich audience. It is an audience that is encouragingly full of not only theatre fans, but families too and even, whisper it with me now, some curious locals.
Festival Director, Steve Freeman wisely opens with shows from local practitioners and companies as well as international artists. Over the years he has successfully steered PULSE as a festival which pays homage to its roots whilst placing itself firmly both on the national and international stage. It is also a place of discovery; strong ties to the excellent Escalator East programme facilitating that scratch performances get to sit alongside more established pieces. Known hits such as Ontroerend Goed’s Internal and Dafydd James and Ben Lewis’ gorgeously surreal My Name Is Sue mingle comfortably with rehearsed readings from playwrights Jack Thorne, Tena Stivicic and local boy Andrew Burton. Meanwhile companies Tin Horse Theatre and Analogue are creating new immersive experiences for us to dip our toes into, Leo Kay and Ross Sutherland are at the forefront of a wave of spoken word performances and 6.0’s poignant and inventive show How Heap And Pebble Took On The World is just one of a cavalcade of whimsical, devised pieces. Oh and there’s work from Transport, Hydrocracker, Pilot Theatre, Tangram Theatre Company, Fanshen, Paines Plough, Nabokov, Young Vic, Theatre Ad Infinitum and You Need Me. So quite a lot then.