Children’s Fest Listing

May 21 2021 | By More

What’s on at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

As the end of May looms, thoughts turn to the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, which this year runs from May 25 through to the first weekend of June.

This year’s event was always going to be curtailed in some way by the Covid pandemic. But Imaginate, which programmes the festival, has turned the festival on its head and, in so doing, what could be an obstacle becomes an advantage.

Potato Needs a Bath. Pic: Tamlin Wiltshire

Traditionally, the “international” element of this festival of theatre for children, has been to introduce theatre from around the world to a Scottish audience, bringing specialists in the field to Edinburgh and, in so doing, creating both a proper treat for family and school audiences while providing something of a rare opportunity for theatre makers to meet in person.

With lack of certainty over distancing or even opening, let alone international travel, Imaginate has built on the boom in Zoom performances. Now, the “international” element is that the wealth of Scottish talent is showcased around the world. While family and school audiences still get their proper treat.

Because Scotland really does have some brilliant creators of theatre for children. Too many – in truth – to pack into the festival.

There’s Shona Reppe, whose Potato Needs a Bath has been adapted for live Zoom performance and has already “toured” to P1 and P2 schools around the country. Greg Sinclair premiered his A Piece of You for young people four years ago at the EICF opening weekend – read hear how much we loved it then – and now he is performing it live by Zoom.

There are two Imaginate commissions on show – both online. The Super Special Disability Roadshow by Birds of Paradise finds Robert Softley Gale and Sally Clay in a touring show that arrives in a school where the disabled kids are able to put the presenters right on their own experiences.

The Super Special Disability Roadshow

While directory Joe Douglas has been able to create a full film of the Disability Roadshow, the full version of Katy Wilson’s Mixed Up, for Starcatchers, is more hands-on experience. However, a ten minute film version gives a small idea of its energetic, colourful and creative expression of hip-hop dance and street art which explores the mixed-up feelings that children have been experiencing through these turbulent times.

And of course there are the two weekends of free events. This year transferred to The Botanics, with ten different installations and live performances around the gardens. Be warned – you will need to book through the RBGE’s own EventBrite booking page for a free ticket to get into the gardens. Tickets become available on the previous week’s Thursday – so book from May 20 for the weekend of 29/30 May and from May 27 for the weekend of 5/6 June.


Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

Tuesday 25 May – Sunday 6 June 2021.
See news preview: Imaginate goes Hybrid
This year’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival has gone hybrid, with some work being performed live outdoors – and the remainder online with a variety of live and pre-recorded works. All the bookable events are available through the Traverse 3 Website here.

Family Encounters at the Botanics
Sat 29/Sun 30 May and Sat 5/Sun 6 June.
Venue: Botanic Gardens, 10am – 4pm. EICF. Age guide: Babes – 11 years.
The Children’s Festival is taking over the Botanics for two weekends, with 10 different outdoor and immersive performances. Entry to the Botanics is free but limited with tickets only bookable online through the RBGE’s Eventbrite page. At noon on Thursday 20 May you can book your time slot for the first weekend – and for the second weekend at noon on Thursday 27. Full timetable and details of performances: Here on he Imaginate website .

Family Portrait
Fri 28 – Sun 30 May and Fri 4 – Sun 6 June.
Six perfs daily, every hour 2pm-7pm; Three additional morning perfs Sat/Sun: every hour 10am-12pm.
Venue: Assembly Roxy. EICF. Age guide: all ages.
An interactive installation, combining striking imagery and choreography, capturing Barrowland Ballet’s artistic director Natasha Gilmore and her three children in an intimate portrayal of family life. With humour and candour, the work shares an honest depiction of what family really is – responsibility, joy, balance, intimacy and, most of all, love. Book here.

Islander. Pic: Ali Wright

A Piece of You
Fri 28 – Sun 30 May and Fri 4 – Sun 6 June.
Four perfs daily, every 45 mins 2pm-4.15pm; Four additional morning perfs Sat 29/Sun 30: every 45 mins 10.15am-12.30pm.
Live Zoom performance. 40mins duration. EICF. Age guide: 7 – 15 years.
As you chat to performance artist, cellist and composer Greg Sinclair he transforms your thoughts and feelings into your very own music score using colourful and expressive graphic notation. He then plays your music on his cello, in this unique performance all about you. Book here.

The University of Wonder & Imagination
Fri 28 – Sun 30 May and Fri 4/Sat 5 June
Fri 28, Fri 4: 2.30pm; Sat 29/Sun 29, Sat 5: Every 30 mins 1pm-3pm & 5pm.
Live Zoom performance.  1 hr duration. EICF. Age guide: 7 – 11 years.
Using the magic of Zoom, journey to the most unusual of universities for a self-navigated quest where nothing is quite as it seems. Interact with the liveliest of lecturers, choose your subjects of study, enter themed rooms and encounter all kinds of problems and puzzles, unlocking magical powers as you go. The choices you’ll make during the event will shape your unique experience. Book here.

White: The Film
Sat 29/Sun 30 May, Sat 5/Sun 6 June.
Two perfs daily: 10am, 2pm. EICF. Age guide: 4 – 6 years.
See Æ Review: ★★★★★ Perfect rainbow

White is a place where men wear bathmats as aprons and baby hats on their heads. White is a world of birdhouses, disco balls and prawn crackers. White is a place where everything is white. But one day colour arrives and everything changes. Catherine Wheels hit show for the very young has been filmed under Covid restrictions with the original case and creatives. Book here.

Potato Needs A Bath
Sast 29 May & 5 June.
Three perfs daily: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm.
Live Zoom. EICF. Age guide: 3 – 5 years.
There’s going to be a party and everyone is ready – Onion is practicing his guitar, Aubergine is wearing her new necklace and Peach is bouncing on the bed with excitement. Except Potato. Potato needs a bath – but he has other ideas – because Potato loves mud! Shona Reppe and Andy Manley’s live show as been reimagined for digital delivery with a combination of live and pre-recorded performance. Book here.

Alley Oop
Sat 29/Sun 30 May, Sat 5/Sun 6 June.
Three perfs daily: 10.30am, 1.15pm , 2.45pm.
Venue: Lyra. EICF. Age guide: 6 – 16 years.
Developed by Room 2 Manoeuvre’s Tony Mills and Hong Kong based artist Yip Chan, this unique activity will offer you the chance to learn the basics of basketball and hip hop/breakin’ and eventually discover how dance and sport can come together. The workshop is for children only but up to 2 adults per child can watch from the outside of the basketball court. Book here.

Lovey & Boy
Sat 29/Sun 30 May, Sat 5/Sun 6 June.
Every half hour, 10.30am-1pm and 2.30pm-4.30pm.
Venue: North Edinburgh Arts garden. EICF. Age guide: 6 – 12 years.
Lovey and Boy are best friends, who love to dance, and are excited for carnival time. Boy is discovering more about who she is. With the support of Lovey they embark on a journey learning more about their heritage and about carnival. A celebration of Caribbean heritage and identity asking, who are we? What is our history? And how do we move through the world? A playful story of self-discovery. Book here.

The Super Special Disability Roadshow
Available On Demand Tue 25 May – Sun 6 June
Premiere: 7pm on Tue 25 May (followed by a live post-show Q&A)
Via YouTube. EICF. Age guide: 8 – 13 years.
Roadshow hosts Rob and Sal are doing pretty well with his patter and her (cheesy) ditties, as they explain what it’s like for disabled people in today’s world… until the younger generation decides to set them straight! Created by Birds in Paradise and directed by Joe Douglas, the show draws on stories and experiences of disabled children and adults. Book here.

Available On Demand Thurs 27 May – Sun 6 June
Premiere: 7pm on Thurs 27 May (followed by a live post-show Q&A).
Via YouTube. EICF. Age guide: 11 years +
A moving and shocking insight into the experiences of Adam, a young man sharing his story of living within the state care system. Sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes hilarious, Adam’s story reaches out and grabs you, pulling you into a world that you might think you know. While Adam’s story is fictional, it is an amalgam of the many stories of young people with experience of the care system, interviewed over three years across Northern Ireland. Book here.

Mixed Up
Available On Demand Sat 5/Sun 6 June.
Running time: 10 mins.
Via YouTube. EICF. Age guide: 3 – 8 years.
Mixed Up the film is an energetic, colourful and creative expression of hip-hop dance and street art which explores the mixed-up feelings that children have been experiencing through these turbulent times. On the second weekend of family encounters Imaginate is offering families a sneak peek at the performance film to give you a flavour of the show. Book here.

Available On Demand Tue 25 May – Sun 6 June
Running time: 45 mins.
Via YouTube. EICF. Age guide: 8 – 13 years.
Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling told through a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score. Originally conceived and directed for the stage, in this audio recording for Radio 4, the two-hander cast perform a whole host of characters, while weaving, building and layering their voices using looping technology to create an expansive, ethereal soundscape for the ears and imagination. Book here.

A Piece of You. Pic: Lucas Chih-Peng Kao


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