All smiles at third Imaginarium

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As the dust settles on another wonderfully exuberant Imaginarium children’s arts festival, all those involved can look back on the most successful event yet, with capacity audiences, record overall attendances and plenty of beaming faces. For many, it was a half-term holiday to remember.

In total, almost 1,000 young people, parents and grandparents flocked to the Eastgate Theatre to enjoy a diverse mix of creative workshops, story-telling, film-making and some outstanding theatre productions. Many of those who attended were local, but the festival also pulled in healthy numbers from the wider Borders, Edinburgh, Glasgow and even further afield.

Held from 15–19 October, and now in its third year, the theme for this year’s Imaginarium was Outside In, Inside Out – something best illustrated by the transformation of the Anne Younger Studio, with a bothy built in a woodland filled with arty animals, flowers, trees and beasties, all made by crafty children under the guidance of artists Jo Powell and Poppy Browne.

The bothy, which grew more colourful by the day, was the setting for a series of free music and performance sessions, plus wonderful tales that delighted young and old. Two of the stories, read by farmer Robert Barr and alpaca trekking business owner Jean Macdonald, ensured that the bothy also hosted some live animals, with a black-faced ewe sheared on site, and a pair of baby alpacas charming audiences.

There was a fantastic buzz elsewhere at the Eastgate as a group of 13 young film-makers drew up story-boards and wrote scripts before heading out to film on location around Peebles – all under the watchful eye of director, Tom Swift. The premier of the resulting five-minute films – each developed around a soundtrack by local musician, Jack Hinks – drew a large and appreciative audience on the final afternoon.  

The various creative workshops – in dance, comedy and all manner of energetic circus skills – were also well attended, while the music kept on coming with the likes of Jack Hinks, The Jellyman’s Daughter, Darcy DaSilva and Roy Marchbank entertaining audiences during a Big Gig on the opening night.  

Meanwhile, the main auditorium played host to some delightful theatre productions, including a full house for Emily Brown and the Thing – fresh from wowing audiences at the Fringe – the quite dazzling Starbird, the joyfully interactive Inside Out and rather mysterious Heaven Eyes. And that’s not forgetting a Happy Laffy Hour led by Glasgow comedian Stephen Halkett, who also put in a star-turn during Professor Heisenhoff’s Big Birthday Bash in the studio below.

The festival stepped beyond the Eastgate again on the weekend when Jack Stoddart from theatre company Ramshaklicious took to the streets with his shopping trolley for a wild musical walk around the town.

Throughout the five-days, performers and audiences alike were expertly aided and shepherded by a fantastic team of young volunteers, led by ever-present Ryan Cochrane.

“It was the most successful Imaginarium yet, with more people attending despite the festival being a day shorter than in previous years,” explained Caroline Adam, the Eastgate’s General Manager. “There was a terrific atmosphere around the place with lots of happy youngsters – not to mention parents and grandparents. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.”

 This year’s Imaginarium was produced in partnership with Peebles Creative Place 2014.

For more images from the event, click here