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Spill opens with Clarion Call: women’s voices mark World War One centenary

PUBLISHED: 15:57 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:57 25 October 2018

The Pyre Parade will end the 2018 Spill Festival in spectacular fashion by parading an effigy, stuffed with bad news, through the town and then setting it alight Photo: Pacitti Company

The Pyre Parade will end the 2018 Spill Festival in spectacular fashion by parading an effigy, stuffed with bad news, through the town and then setting it alight Photo: Pacitti Company

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Spill Festival has become an important part of Suffolk’s cultural calendar. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to artistic director Robert Pacitti and was guided through a packed programme

Robert Pacitti outside Spill headquarters by Ipswich Museum Photo: Gregg BrownRobert Pacitti outside Spill headquarters by Ipswich Museum Photo: Gregg Brown

In the last six years the Spill Festival of Arts has completed its transfer from a London-based event to a completely Suffolk-focused celebration of creativity. This year performance artists, musicians, actors, writers, dancers and creative thinkers are converging on the Ipswich Waterfront to take part in a ten day event, designed to capture the imagination of the people of East Anglia.

Festival director Robert Pacitti says that the programme has been carefully put together to appeal to a wide range of people of all ages and from all backgrounds. “It is something everyone can come along and engage with. This year there is a particular emphasis to make it very family friendly.

“It’s all about taking part, joining in and engaging and interacting with events. For me, it’s important this is not London. This is Ipswich.

Clarion Call, a co-commission between Pacitti Company and 14-18 NOW, will launch this year's SPILL Festival of Performance. Picture: THOMAS HYLANDClarion Call, a co-commission between Pacitti Company and 14-18 NOW, will launch this year's SPILL Festival of Performance. Picture: THOMAS HYLAND

“Previous Spills have been reactive to London, this one isn’t, this is all about Ipswich, all about Suffolk and East Anglia in the 21st century. Time is the central theme of this year’s festival.”

He says that within that Spill will maintain its reputation for producing cutting-edge work and he is thrilled that it has developed a strong local following. “We were looking at the attendance figures for the last Spill and we were delighted that more than 50% of attendees came from Ipswich and its immediately environs. So, we’re delighted to have people join us from London, everyone is really welcome, but Spill is now all about Ipswich and a large number of events are completely free.”

Forced Entertainment Complete Works, part of the Spill Festival in Ipswich  Photo: Hugo GlendinningForced Entertainment Complete Works, part of the Spill Festival in Ipswich Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Robert Paccitti’s Top Spill Attractions:

Clarion Call: A sound installation marking the centenary of the end of the First World War. A major

Ipswich Waterfront will host a number of events for Spill Festival 2018Ipswich Waterfront will host a number of events for Spill Festival 2018

co-commission with 14-18 NOW, Spill is looking to merge the past, present and future and explore the notion of being timely.

Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and Beth Gibbons (Portishead) have been invited on board as collaborators on Clarion Call from Oct 25. Their voices along with Melanie Pappenheim, Elaine Mitchener, Cherise Phillips, and the Wattisham and Honnington Military Wives Choir all come together projected from 400 speakers under the guidance of folk revivalist Shirley Collins.

Robert Pacitti explains: “It’s time to see Ipswich anew. This is a large scale outdoor sound will sing out

Imagined Touch by Jodee Mundy Collaborations, part of the 2018 Spill Festival  Photo: Pippa DoddsImagined Touch by Jodee Mundy Collaborations, part of the 2018 Spill Festival Photo: Pippa Dodds

daily from the Waterfront and it will change and evolve each time it is performed. It’s not about the sounds of war, it’s not a distressing piece in any way but it’s based on women’s experience of war and it stands alongside all the formal, civic acts of rememberance. If I didn’t think that this didn’t have the potential to be a hugely transformative experience then I wouldn’t have done it. I think this is the most exciting project I have ever been involved with.”

Pyre Parade: On Thursday October 25, the opening night of SPILL Festival, a Pyre Parade effigy will be revealed at Ipswich Waterfront before being placed in La Tour Cycle Café. For 10 days the people of Suffolk and Ipswich will be able to take a private moment and write down all their bad news, before posting it inside the effigy. Bad debts, a huge tax bill, tricky customers, regrets, or whatever the badness, feed the beast. If you’ve got anything to complain about - and who hasn’t? - get it out of your system and into the effigy...

Then join the march from Ipswich Waterfront to Christchurch Park (Fonnereau Road entrance) at 5pm on Saturday November 3, to noisily accompany the effigy, with mystical performers and a marching band, before engulfing the effigy in flames taking all the bad news and bruised feelings with it.

In advance, you could come along to the Parade Skills sessions led by artists Kirsty Thorpe and Robert Pacitti and make your own masks, flags and effigies for use at the Pyre Parade. If you can’t make the sessions, simply turn up with something loud to bang, such as wooden spoons on saucepan lids, and be prepared to hush as the Parade moves respectfully through Silent Street.

Block Magic: This is an on-going family-friendly event devised by young locals in partnership with

local architectural practice EDRM which allows people to create a constantly shifting playground structure made from coloured crates. “Using specially designed software, kids can move lots of coloured blocks around and create their own spaces to play in.” It is hoped that research conducted as part of this event could effect improvements at children’s play spaces in Ipswich.

Artichoke’s Processions: 100 artists were commissioned to make 100 banners which women and girls’ community groups then took to the streets of Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London earlier this year to mark the centenary of some women gaining the vote. “We will be the first people to display these banners since the march and we will be constructing a trail to take visitors across the town to see these wonderful art works in different locations.”

Le Gateau Chocolat: This high profile cabaret performer will be storming the stage at The New Wolsey Theatre, with a new production of his award-winning show Icons. The work has been reimagined for Spill to be performed with a seven piece band. Walking the tightrope between public and private personas, Le Gateau Chocolat explores the people, the moments, the relationships, the art that have come to shape us. “If you want to try something and you’re not quite sure what to expect, then this is a really solid bet.”

Table Top Shakespeare: Over nine days, internationallycelebrated theatre-makers Forced Entertainment condense every Shakespeare play ever written into a series of 36 intimate and lovingly made miniatures, played out on a one metre table-top using a collection of unextraordinary everyday objects. “In modern language they tell the full story of each play in a hour. It is addictive. I have seen people leave, immediately buy a ticket for the next play and go straight back in.” The time-table of each day, detailing when each play is being performed can be found on the Spill website or in the Spill brochure.

Still Solos: After the success of the Sound Hide in Christchurch Park for the last Spill Festival Mike Challis returns to take small groups of people into Christchurch Park and Holywells Park to allow them to engage silently with wildlife and the natural world. “It’s all about being still and just becoming part of the environment for 30 minutes at a time.”

Imagined Touch: This a co-comission between Spill, DanceEast and The Barbican. Staged at The Jerwood DanceHouse, this is a collaboration between artist Jodee Mundy and two deafblind women, Heather Lawson, a performer, and Michelle Stevens, a pianist. Audiences watch a short introductory film and are then provided with goggles and headphones to be guided through to an unseen promenade installation. With light and sound distorted and restricted, it is touch that becomes integral to connection ensuring this immersive event shares the humour, grief, beauty and profound isolation of stories as experienced by deafblind artists. “If this sounds like a downer, it really isn’t.” After the premiere at Spill this performance will open at the Barbican’s Pit Theatre the following week.

Spill Festival runs across Ipswich from October 25 until November 4. Full details of the 150 events and performances can be found online at spillfestival.com

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