By Andrew Woodger
Nearly 40 plays, works-in-progress, readings and other performances are taking place during the Pulse Fringe Festival 2009. Some of the more bizarre new works will take place in an actual caravan and office rather than on a traditional theatre stage.
Since opening in 2001, Pulse has become a fixture on the Suffolk theatre calendar and the organisers are claiming it's growing in terms of national, and even international, recognition.
We need you to help us review the performances, but first we'll let the Pulse people tell you what it's all about.
Festival director Stephen Freeman said: "The aim has become clearer and clearer. It's about the best of new and emerging work and artists and companies that are new to the region.
"What we've succeeded with this year is persuading international companies to come this year including French-Canadian dancers Les Angles Morts, Driven by Neel de Jong and Anhngdance doing 2x2.
"We had lots more applications from international companies, but it is technically difficult to bring over theatre acts."
One of the unique selling points of Pulse is that it puts on works-in-progress with post-performance talks with the audience asking them what they liked or didn't like. Last year Beachy Head opened the festival and, a year on, following these feedback sessions, the play will be going to the Edinburgh Festival in its finished form.
Edinburgh is a happy hunting ground for the Pulse organisers who say people up there are aware of the Ipswich event. "It's just a matter of building year-on-year our reputation with the artists," said Stephen Freeman.
"It's actually incredibly hard work. Myself and Sharon [Jenkins - New Wolsey marketing manager] saw around 40 shows each in Edinburgh last year. It's not about going up and having a real laugh.
"We're running from venue to venue, sitting in some of the most cramped 'found spaces', sitting in there sweating with a rucksack on your back and trying to maintain your concentration while asking yourself if this would be suitable for Ipswich.
"You get to see some really great work, but you also get to see some really naff work as well. It's great fun, but it's tough."
Two of the highlights the organisers are picking out will have very limited numbers of tickets available. Caravan by Look Left Look Right will take place in an actual caravan parked outside the New Wolsey and it'll only have space for eight audience members.
It's about people who were forced out of their homes by the flooding in England in the summer of 2007.
Paperweight is set in an office and it'll take place in an actual manager's office at the New Wolsey. The audience will be sitting on office chairs, filing cabinets and maybe even the photo-copier.
"It's kind of like Ricky Gervais's The Office. It's incredibly funny, but there are moments that are just so uncomfortable. It's almost a piece of silent theatre - there's very little dialogue, but you can connect with it even if you don't work in an office," said Stephen.
Britain's Best Mates is a look at modern-day 'lads' and their lifestyles starring Jamie Glassman and Matthew Steer who've written for Comedy Central and Sacha Baron-Cohen.
Prices for all the shows are pegged at the 2008 ticket price of £5 (£3 concessions) with only a couple of multi-performance shows costing £7.
New Wolsey Studio, St George's Street
The shows mainly take place at the New Wolsey Studio on St George's Street, but also at the New Wolsey Theatre, the St Nicholas Centre, Sir John Mills Theatre, St Mary's-on-the-Quay and Town Hall Galleries.
Then again, some events are keeping not only the price, but also the venue top secret. Holly Rumble's Mobile Disco is described as 'the world's most portable and surreptitious disco', but that's it. We're simply asked to text 'DISCO' to 07807 956410 and all will be revealed by Holly.
"I think Pulse is about offering up a complete mix of shows and a very reasonable price. You'll never be able to see their work again for a fiver, because they'll be going into venues that will charge a lot more."
That said, '07 and '08 Pulse favourites The Ornate Johnsons ARE returning with two shows called The October Revolutions and Mississippi.
Britain's Best Mates
"Come on - take a risk. You could be taking part in the development of what will be a finished piece of theatre," said Stephen.
"You're not going to sit through two hours' worth of theatre and cringe in your seat, because most of the performances are notoriously just an hour. So you can dip in, pay a fiver and see something that you might not ordinarily see."
Aside from being able to take part in circus workshops and talkback sessions, BBC Suffolk is looking for people to review performances for this website and maybe even on-air if you fancied it?
In return for a pair of free tickets, we would simply need a 500-word review. All you need to do is give us your honest opinion! Write to us at the website or ring us on 01473 250000 and we'll arrange things.
If you just want to go along, visit the Pulse Fringe Festival website or ring the box office on 01473 295900.
last updated: 20/04/2009 at 12:16