It may have lost the word ‘International’ from its title, but the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival (formerly the International Children’s Theatre Festival) still has a very global remit. Companies from Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium are all headed our way this year, with work for children and young people aged 2 upwards.
But, unsurprisingly given the abundance of home grown talent, there are no fewer than six Scottish companies providing quality children’s theatre at this year’s Festival. One of which is Catherine Wheels, who are catering for two different age groups with Martha (ages 4+) and The Ballad of Pondlife McGurk (ages 9-13).
First produced in 1999, Martha has toured internationally and been translated into a number of languages. According to artistic director Gill Robertson, the show’s ability to touch both adults and children accounts for its popularity. Martha’s a really simple story but it just works,’ she says. ‘It’s about loneliness and seeking friendship, but there’s a lot of humour in it and it’s very visual. Children really enjoy watching it and adults weep at it – I’ve had grown-ups sobbing at the end.’
Pondlife McGurk has a similar dual appeal, dealing with the fragile nature of schoolyard friendships – something we’ve all been through, and hugely pertinent to the show’s target age range. ‘It touches on lots of different things that happen to kids in school and the relationships they create,’ says Robertson. ‘It’s about a man who regrets betraying one of his best friends at school who was a bit of an outsider – he made a mistake, and the young people watching it understand that, but they also understand why. It’s a really touching family show.’
Catherine Wheels returns with the tale of stubborn Martha, who lives by the sea all on her own. She reckons she doesn't need any friends, until one day she has an unexpected visitor who changes her life forever. Ages 4+. 'Part of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival 2010'.
Abigail Docherty and Lu Kemp retell the moving and inspirational story of Sadako, who folded 1000 cranes while incapacitated by Hiroshima fallout. Ages 8+. 'Part of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival 2010'.
Five plays about teenagers led by their senses. The bill is split into 'Nose & Skin' (Thu 10.30am & Sat 4pm) and 'Eyes, Ears & Tongue (all other performances). Ages 14+. 'Part of the Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival 2010'.