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What do Beth Gibbons, Gaika, Elizabeth Fraser, Crass, WW1, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter, a load of mushrooms, and burning bad shit have in common? Robert Pacitti on SPILL Festival + time.

[The Rough Band: Pyre Parade]

This is the fourth SPILL Festival taking place in Ipswich, and this year’s festival is bigger than ever. We have live performances, sound and music, film and video, plus projects exploring heritage and place, all made by some of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists.

This year we are honouring the past with a programme of artworks marking 100 years since the end of the First World War. Using audio technology originally employed in war and emergencies, and the voices of women and girls, Clarion Call will ring out twice daily from 488 speakers placed on the roofs of buildings around Ipswich Waterfront and beyond. Beth Gibbons of Portishead and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins are singing, along with women from a military wives choir, girls from the Roma Choir and girls from my old school. You are unlikely to have experienced anything quite like it before.

[Jodee Mundy Collaborations: Imagined Touch. Image credit: Pippa Dodds]

Handmade banners, stitched by women across the UK for Artichoke’s wonderful PROCESSIONS project, marking 100 years since some women got the vote, form an exhibition trail across the town.

Looking even further back with Forced Entertainment, Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare performed daily across the festival, brings condensed contemporary versions of all 36 Shakespeare plays to Ipswich Town Hall. Comically and intimately retold using everyday objects as characters on an ordinary table top, this huge performance undertaking by one of the UK’s foremost theatre companies are simply unmissable, and the perfect opportunity to try one of The Bard’s lesser-known plays.

I’m so thrilled that Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti are playing the festival. It’s an honour to have them in the mix. For any of you that know their work as Throbbing Gristle / Chris and Cosey / Carter Tutti etc then you’ll know how truly seminal they are. For SPILL they are making a special one-off gig in the round. If you’re into experimental music, then it’s simply unmissable. 

[Lanre Malaolu: Figure]

[Nabil: Visiting Thahab]

I’m also really excited that Gaika is playing SPILL, as well as Eve Libertine and Penny Rimbaud, ex of Crass. Vicky Bennet’s People Like Us project is incredible and there’s a whole heap of sound, spoken word events and cinema screenings to get excited about (including David Lynch’s film on his own mediation practice – again, why would you miss this?).

Across the festival you are also invited to make an offering of written bad news to our Pyre Parade effigy housed in La Tour Cycle Cafe at Ipswich Waterfront. Then on Saturday 3 November join us for The Pyre Parade, as our effigy makes its way noisily through town to Christchurch Park where – full of everyone’s bad news – it will be engulfed in flames, burning up the darkness and clearing space before winter.

It can be quicker to get to Ipswich from London than to cross it, just over an hour by direct train. Tickets are really cheap when booked in advance and about a third of the festival is totally free. A third of events are a fiver and our top price tickets are just £10. SPILL Passes offer great ways to save across the festival and with events for kids and families, plus a late‑night programme for adults, there really is something for everyone.

It’s time to wake up to SPILL babes. See you there.

For more information on the SPILL Festival of Performance visit www.spillfestival.com

[Yao Liao: By Mushrooms]

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