Francesca Millican-Slater

The Forensics of a Flat was a piece that had been sitting in my head for a while when I applied to scratch it at Pulse last year. At that point, it was mostly a collection of words, pictures and conversations about what it might be if I were to make a show about The Flat that I live in.

I had been touring another show on and off for two years: a show that had taken me 10 years, on and off, to make. I was feeling stale, I needed something to push me into making something, so putting myself forward for Pulse felt like the ideal platform. I'd been selected for Pulse previously in 2010, so I knew it as festival with an enthusiastic and dedicated audience.

Anyway, I secretly applied, I didn't really tell anyone, didn't show anyone the application, told myself it didn't matter if I didn't get selected. As a maker I've cut my teeth on scratch platform, testing work, ideas that have failed, things that haven't happened (my abortive attempt to swim the channel), I find these platforms (Pilot, BAC, Practice among others that this fine country has too offer) can lead the drive for me to make a show. It's that reassurance that I, certainly, look for as an artist: 'Oh these people seem to like it, maybe there is a show in this, maybe this isn't just me sitting around in my pants talking to myself.'

Last year there was already a buzz building around Pulse, there was the suitcase prize, scratch nights, China Plate were on board. If I got in it meant I'd pull my finger out and make something to a certain quality because of the people going , coverage etc... but it would also allow me to test material, fail if I needed, get feedback, make connections and see a load of other work. I got selected and made 20 or so minutes of material and got the reassurance, dare I say, gratification that I needed (ahh, the artistic ego). I met people, talked, got feedback, began dialogue about bringing The Full Show back to Pulse. I met Mem Morrison, who has come on board as an outside eye for the full piece. This idea, this collection of words, pictures and conversations was going to be a thing.

So now here I am a year or so later back, sweating through the turbulent time of turning a 20-minute scratch into a full length piece. I think that is a whole other blog post; 'Aftercare for itching The Scratch' maybe?

Or not, anyway, Pulse is increasingly a place to go to catch shows that become or already are 'the ones to watch'. As an artist Pulse does something that can be rare in a festival context in giving a sense of equal weight to the breadth of experience in the artists that it programmes, which allows a real confidence in your work as you see who you sit along side. The programme is so strong and the curation so careful that you know that there is potential to start conversations with programmers, reviewers and other artists that are there. For me, it is a place to ignite interest (my own and other people's) in new work.


PULSE Festival 2014 runs at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from Thursday 29 May to Saturday 7 June 2014. For information and tickets visit www.pulseipswich.co.uk

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