Today at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS), the 29th Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (EICF) launched its exciting 2018 programme to the public, and it’s one that holds the promise of maintaining their gold standard of theatre for young audiences from around the world.
In an opening speech Heather Webb of National Museum of Scotland spoke of the partnership with EICF and of the opening family weekend at the NMS that features free drop-in events throughout the building including live music, pop-up performances, storytelling, hands-on arts activities and more.
When Imaginate Chief Executive, Paul Fitzpatrick took the floor, he spoke of the importance of the “child as an audience member” and their interaction between them and the performers particularly in this the Year of Young People when the wider impact of valuing and respecting children is to the fore. As part of the celebration of the Year of Young People, Imaginate has recruited six passionate and enthusiastic Young Associates aged between 17-24 to help programme and deliver the weekend festivities, when they have been given free rein to curate a key strand of the weekend.
The 2018 programme features 14 shows from 12 countries that make up a varied programme of theatre, dance, multi-media and puppetry curated by Festival Director, Noel Jordan, who gave some of his personal highlights during a speech that emphasised the vital role of high quality children’s theatre in helping children understand the world.
Jordan said, “2018 promises to be another spectacular year for the Festival. Where else can you share the lives of two young refugees from Syria, thrill to the rebellious curiosity of a boy made entirely of clay or delight in watching childhood toys infiltrate and disturb the lives of busy executives? Whilst the stories they create are incredibly unique and offer different perspectives of the world, at their core is a belief that children – no matter what their circumstances may be – deserve the best art possible.”
The project Wee Night Out, funded by The City of Edinburgh Council, is a special initiative that gave a group of 10-15-year-old children from Craigmillar the opportunity to work with the festival director. Together, they attended nine productions at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe after which The Road That Wasn’t There from New Zealand was chosen to be included in the 2018 EICF.
Well -loved Scottish companies such as Catherine Wheels, will be joined by companies from as far as New Zealand and Canada and for the first time, an exciting show from South Africa partly performed in the clicking language Xhosa to entertain families who this year attend shows can attend performances in the evening, at the weekend and on Friday afternoon in venues across Edinburgh.
The festival will also go beyond Edinburgh with a 3- week tour of Scotland with Imaginate’s new international co-production Baba Yaga, from the renowned Shona Reppe and Australian Windmill Theatre Co, funded by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund. It is a re-telling of an old Russian folktale set in a ‘retro-futuristic world’ created by three unique female artists from across the globe, where Vaselina must achieve three impossible tasks to escape from the witch Baba Yaga.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said, “I recognise the importance of young people engaging with the arts and the significant benefits gained by increasing access and opportunities for all our young people particularly this year, as we celebrate the Year of Young People. The 2018 festival will deliver a high-quality programme of work in Edinburgh and beyond including Baba Yaga, which was funded through £100,000 provided by the Scottish Government EXPO fund. Research has provided strong evidence on the value of young people experiencing culture from an early age, and the Children’s Festival ensures their exposure to performances and experiences of world class quality.” The Minister went on to emphasise the importance of the cultural influence of fun and play and of valuing the present.
Under the banner ‘small people, big subjects’, EICF, that is produced by Imaginate and funded by Creative Scotland, has shows that cater for wee ones as young as 0 to 3 years with Toddler Room from Norway to A Feast of Bones from Ireland that‘s geared to young people as old as 15. Companies from aforementioned countries, as well as Spain, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and of course home -grown talents from Scotland and the rest of the UK will provide challenging and exciting entertainment while not shying away from difficult topics.
This nine -day festival is packed with top drawer theatre for children and their accompanying adults that looks to be among it’s most exciting yet – if that’s possible!
Festival tickets are on sale now. For full programme and booking information, go to http://www.imaginate.org.uk/festival. Tickets can be booked online or at 0131 228 1404.
EICF runs from 26 May – 3 June 2018