Easter Holiday Theatre for Children

Apr 3 2012 | By More

White, Gruffalo and Puppet Animation Festival hit town

White Catherine Wheels, Andy Manly, Original cast Andy Manley and Ian Cameron in White by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company © Douglas McBride

Original cast Andy Manley and Ian Cameron in White by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company © Douglas McBride

By Thom Dibdin

Big, small and dotted all around, the variety of theatre for under-tens on offer in Edinburgh this Easter holidays is broad, thanks largely to the very excellent Puppet Animation Festival which is playing in a total of eight smaller venues around the city.

The biggest event by far is the return to Edinburgh of The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s wildly successful picture book brought to the stage by Tall Stories.

Since its tiny first tour back in 2001, when it took in a stint in Traverse 2 during the Children’s Theatre Festival, the Gruffalo has grown into a global theatre industry. Now it plays the Festival Theatre on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 – with extra performances having to be added due to “phenomenal” demand.

For those who don’t know, the musical show follows the adventures of a quick-witted mouse who takes a walk in the deep dark wood – where he comes across a wheeler-dealer fox, an eccentric owl and a maraca-shaking snake. All of whom invite him to dinner as the main course. Only to be thwarted by the image of his imaginary friend, the Gruffalo. Or is he so imaginary after all!

Back in Trav 2, the very wonderful Catherine Wheels return with White, touring with a new cast of Sean Hay and Ross Allan (Wed 11 – Sat 14). The show has been a palpable hit everywhere it has played, from opening in the Fringe in 2010 to stints in Australia and New York, where Sarah Jessica Parker said it was one of the best things she’s ever seen.

Aimed at 2 to 4 year-olds, White follows Cotton and Wrinkle as they go about their business of naming all the items in their white world – created in wonderfully inventive style by Shona Reppe – and keeping it that way. Until one day, a red egg falls from the sky…

The Puppet Animation Festival started life as a week long event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – when it was the Netherbow Arts Centre in 1984 – and has grown since then to cover the length and breadth of Scotland from the Scottish Borders to the Shetland Isles.

It still has a big Edinburgh presence, with a total of 19 performances of 12 different productions in 8 smaller venues around the city. And it’s this attention to the parts of the city which are not normally strongly featured by the main festivals which makes it so attractive.

Finally, a hungry French rabbit arrives at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Tuesday  10, although not as part of the Animation Festival. Lapin Wants an Easter Carrot is a puppet show from Tania Czajka about a French rabbit who really wants a carrot for Easter. With French keywords carefully scattered throughout, Czajka creates a story for all budding 3-5 year-old French speakers and Lapin lovers.

Puppet Animation Festival by Production:
Cloud Man
Duration: 45 mins; Ages: 4-7
Cloudia has always had her head in the clouds. She is a cloud expert and all her life has dreamt of seeing a Cloud Man. Cloud Men are extremely rare creatures who live a quiet life high up in the sky. Follow the clues to the very top of Cloud Mountain where the views are always surprising, and if you are lucky, you may see something very special indeed.
Performed by Jennifer Edgar and featuring a blend of puppetry, storytelling and charming visuals, Cloud Man featured in the prestigious Made in Scotland 2011 showcase programme.
Sat 14: North Edinburgh Arts (11am)

The Elf of Glen Fern
Duration: 40 mins; Ages: 3+
In times gone by when fairies and elves were part of everyday life, there once was a story about a brownie. Now, in Scotland a brownie was a helpful elf, who was always on the look out to do a good turn. Our story takes us to a little farm on the edge of Glen Fern where one day the brownie saves the day.
Told with colourful fabric puppets in a quilted fabric set, this simple, gentle story is told with live music, songs and audience participation.
Wed 4: Out of the Blue (2pm)
Thurs 5: North Edinburgh Arts (11am)

Duration: 50 mins; Ages: 4+
Performed inside a white canvas dome, this unique and intimate show takes children on a journey to four lovingly realised landscapes from desert to rainforest, from beneath the sea to Antarctica.
Using no words, Mimika combines beautifully crafted puppets with an original musical score, stunning visual effects and an ingenious set to create a theatre which magically captures the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of the natural world.
Mon 16:  Craigmillar Community Arts (1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm)

Little Red…You Know Who!
Duration: approx. 45 mins; Ages: 3-7
Taking a well-known traditional story (you know which!), this spellbinding play for young children follows a magical path through the woods.
Freehand Theatre creates a memorable and reassuring journey with its delightful use of puppetry, colour and specially composed music. Listen to the song of the red box, watch a forest grow before your very eyes and find out how an endearing bear gets in on the action!
Mon 9: WHALE Arts Agency (2pm)

Oscar and the Quest for the Underground Princess
Duration: 50 mins; Ages: 4+
How can a mother mouse keep her son out of mischief? She can’t!
Oscar is irresistibly drawn into an underground myth when he receives a mysterious riddle to solve. Martin, a prince in the mole kingdom, needs Oscar’s help to find the beautiful Princess Emily. But the evil rat, Snotter, has plans of his own…
Can Oscar beat him in the quest? Armed with nothing but a cream bun and an electric guitar, Oscar is determined to have lots of fun along the way!
Mon 2: Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (1.30pm)
Tue 3: Out of the Blue (11am)

The Pea, the Bean and the Enormous Turnip
Duration: 50 mins; Ages: 5+
The Princess and The Pea is a story well loved by all. Storybox Theatre has planted some more seeds in the plot and grown this unforgettably leguminous tale of three famous vegetables.
Rod Burnett uses his formidable skills as a storyteller and puppeteer to take his audience on a journey into the extraordinary garden of the imagination. He tells of a pea which finds a real princess; of the biggest turnip in the world, and a bean which runs away to make its mark. The Pea, the Bean & the Enormous Turnip will send magic tendrils tingling up the spines of children and adults alike.
Sat 7: WHALE Arts Agency (2pm)

Peter and the Wolf
Duration: 55 mins; Ages: 4-10
One of Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre’s most successful touring shows ever, Peter and the Wolf is a wonderfully rich story. Follow the adventures of Peter’s visit to his grandfather’s cottage at the edge of The Great Forest.
Meet all the familiar characters – the Duck, the Cat, the Little Bird and of course, the wonderful life-sized WOLF!
Thurs 12:  Craigmillar Community Arts (2pm)
Fri 13: WHALE Arts Agency (2pm)

Pop-up Circus
Duration: 35 mins; Ages: 0-3
Pop-Up Circus is a gentle, interactive first trip to the circus specially for 0-3 year olds. With a cast of wonderful characters emerging from a pop-out book it feels like you’ve come out of your seat and right into the circus ring. A real joy to watch, with a delightful retro feel. Come sing, clap shout and bring the circus to life!
Thurs 5: Craigmillar Community Arts (2pm)
Tue 10: Gilmerton Community Centre (11am)

Potato Needs A Bath
Duration: 35 mins; Ages: 3-5
Potato has mud on his face.
Potato has mud in his ears.
Potato needs a bath (just don’t get soap in his eyes).
There is going to be a party and everyone is ready – except Potato.
Onion is practising his guitar, Aubergine is wearing her new necklace and Peach is bouncing on the bed with excitement. Potato needs a bath – but he has other ideas – because Potato loves mud!
A light-hearted, gentle and highly visual show featuring fruit, veg and original music.
Wed 11: Scottish Storytelling Centre (3pm)

The Selfish Giant
Duration: 40 mins; Ages: 3-7
Based on Oscar Wilde’s much-loved children’s story, The Selfish Giant is performed in the Folding Theatre Puppet Company’s distinctive and beautiful style.
Whilst taking tea in his garden, the giant relates his story for the audience. Why is he so grumpy and selfish? He tells of how he returned home one day to find his garden full of children. How will the giant react?…
Performed with found objects, puppets and shadows this show is a gentle introduction to puppet theatre for young audiences.
Thurs 12: Scottish Storytelling Centre (3pm)

Duration: 40 mins; Ages: 2-6
There was once a girl so small that she could float on a lily pad and ride on the back of a dragonfly…
Follow Hans Christian Andersen’s extraordinary tale of a girl no bigger than a thumb and her adventures with a frog, mouse, mole and swallow, played out amongst gardening tools and leading to her ultimate happiness in the kingdom of the flowers.
Thumbelina is a one woman show full of delight and excitement for young children – with action, adventure and just a touch of fear and romance. Performed with puppets and gentle storytelling this show is a perfect introduction to puppet theatre for young children.
Wed 4: Out of the Blue (11am)

Willie the Wicked Wolf
Duration: 45 mins; Ages: 5+
Willie is an outrageous but loveable rogue whose interests include food, motorbikes and rock ‘n’ roll. He plans to eat Granny and Red Riding Hood but fails miserably because of his unreliable motorbike. Luckily Granny is a good mechanic. Unluckily she is not a good driver…how will it end?
Happily of course, if the audience helps!
A riotous and funny show from this ever popular English company, which breathes wild new life into the traditional seaside booth style of puppetry, which everyone will love and enjoy!
Wed 11: North Edinburgh Arts (11am)
Thurs 12: Inch Community Centre (1.30pm)

Events by venue:

Craigmillar Community Arts, Edinburgh
Thurs 5 (2pm): Pop-up Circus
Thurs 12 (2pm): Peter and the Wolf
Mon 16 (1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm): Landscapes

Gilmerton Community Centre, Edinburgh
Tue 10 (11am): Pop-up Circus

Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre, Edinburgh
Mon 2 (1.30pm):  Oscar and the Quest for the Underground Princess

Inch Community Centre, Edinburgh
Thurs 12 (1.30pm): Willie the Wicked Wolf

North Edinburgh Arts, Edinburgh
Thus 5 (11am): The Elf of Glen Fern
Wed 11 (11am): Willie the Wicked Wolf
Sat 14 (11am): Cloud Man

Out of the Blue, Edinburgh
Tue 3 (11am): Oscar and the Quest for the Underground Princess
Wed 4 (11am): Thumbelina
Wed 4 (2pm): The Elf of Glen Fern

Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh
Wed 11 (3pm): Potato Needs A Bath
Thurs 12 (3pm): The Selfish Giant

WHALE Arts Agency, Edinburgh
Sat 7  (2pm): The Pea, the Bean and the Enormous Turnip
Mon 9 (2pm): Little Red…You Know Who!
Fri 13 (2pm): Peter and the Wolf


Festival Theatre Website: www.fctt.org.uk/
Puppet Animation Festival Website: www.puppetanimationfestival.org
Scottish Storytelling Centre Website: www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk
Traverse Theatre Website: www.traverse.co.uk/


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Comments (2)

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  1. mark gorman says:

    I saw White at the Macrobert last week. theatrical perfection. 5 stars.

  2. Vimi says:

    We went to see The Elf of Glen Fern and White in the past two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed them 🙂 Our four year old was particularly taken with White and was talking about it for days after! Thanks so very much Thom!