Edinburgh International Children's Festival announces digital and outdoor programme
- Deborah Chu
- 21 April 2021
Hybrid programme boasts streamed productions from acclaimed Scottish companies Catherine Wheels and Birds of Paradise, as well as pop-up performances at the Botanics
Imaginate has revealed details surrounding the return of the Edinburgh International Children's Festival this summer, announcing a programme of theatre and dance to take place both digitally and outdoors across the city. The festival, which will run from Tuesday 25 May–Sunday 6 June, will feature a mix of streaming and live interactive performances hosted online, as well as two weekends of free pop-up events to be held at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and elsewhere in the capital.
In addition to two newly commissioned works by Scotland-based artists, supported by the Scottish Government Festivals Expo Fund, Imaginate have also commissioned 16 new works to be performed at the festival, which will employ over a hundred freelancers during a particularly difficult period for the arts and live events industry.
Highlights from their digital programme include filmed performances of Andy Manley's critically acclaimed one-act play White, staged by Scottish company Catherine Wheels; a streamed performance of Removed, which centres around one man's experience of the care system; and a live magic show in The University of Wonder & Imagination, taking place over Zoom.
Also joining the roster is Birds of Paradise – Scotland's only disabled-led theatre company, who made waves with their widely-lauded show My Left/Right Foot at the 2018 Fringe, and again with Purposeless Movements in 2019 – who will tell the stories of disabled children and adults in a multi-media production titled The Super Special Disability Roadshow. Likewise, early years arts organisation Starcatchers and artist Katy Wilson will be teaming up to present Mixed Up, an interactive performance using painting, music, and hip-hop dance to invite young people to explore the difficult emotions they experience during trying times.
The Children's Festival's free outdoors programme, titled Family Encounters – which will take place on the first and last weekend of the festival – will complement this virtual offering with site-specific pop-up performances at the Botanics, Granton and Craigmillar, extending the festival's physical scope to families living beyond the city centre. From hip-hop workshops to mysterious tree spirits, adventure trails to giant swings, Family Encounters aims to engage and inspire families in fun, experimental new ways, and in a Covid-safe environment. All events will be free of charge, though pre-booking will be necessary to ensure social distancing.
Noel Jordan, the Festival Director, says of this year's innovative programme: 'There are so many things to celebrate about this year's Children's Festival. We are proud to be able to offer paid work to so many Scottish artists, freelancers and companies, from an industry that has almost been at a standstill for over a year. Most importantly, we are appreciative and inspired by the opportunity to be able to present much needed arts and culture to children, young people and their families at this time of need. As our community re-emerges from lockdown now is the time to enjoy the world of wonder, curiosity and connectedness that the arts can offer us.'
Edinburgh International Children's Festival will run from Tuesday 25 May–Sunday 6 June. For more information, visit imaginate.org.uk/festival.