Edinburgh International Children's Festival reveals its 2018 programme
- Kelly Apter
- 22 March 2018
Theatre for young people should reflect the world they're growing up in, says director Noel Jordan
Look for a theme in this year's Edinburgh International Children's Festival, and you won't find one. Artists, says director Noel Jordan, 'are making work in response to the experiences around them – and that's so diverse.' So what you will find, in amongst clever stagecraft designed to entertain young people, is work that counts. Work that says something to an audience which, like a sponge, is soaking up and processing everything it sees as it learns about the world.
For his second year in the curating saddle, Jordan has taken that responsibility very seriously. The 14 shows from 12 countries he has selected all have an obvious appeal on a surface level, but dig deeper and you'll find stories of migration, climate change, gender, bereavement, friendship, cultural difference – in short, the stuff of life and death. 'There's been a real response to migration – I've seen so many pieces on that subject,' says Jordan. 'But the one I felt was most appropriate for our audience, is NIE's We Come From Far, Far Away, which tells the real story of two 15-year-old boys who travel alone from Aleppo across the sea and mainland Europe to Norway. It's told in a very matter of fact way, but the reality of what they go through is unimaginable.'
Even the shows for younger audiences such as Loo, a work for 2–5-year-olds by Spanish company Ponten Pie, have something to say, using a stage full of sand to gently illustrate global warming. Or Things to Wear for ages 2–6 by Germany's Theaterhaus Ensemble, which finds a male and female performer taking on different roles as they change outfits. Well-known characters such as Henny Penny and Foxy Loxy are given a new twist in A Feast of Bones, a show for ages 9–15 by Ireland's Theatre Lovett, while Gretel and Hansel, by Canada's Le Carrousel, gives 6–10-year-olds a chance to view the folk tale differently.