Young Reekie

Kelly Apter discovers how toddlers and teenagers will benefit from Tony Reekie's new-look theatre festival

or years. the Batik of Scotland (‘hildren’s

International Theatre Festival was something of a

tongue—twister. (ietting the words in the right order was no mean feat —‘ even for Festival director. 'l'ony Reekie. ‘I always got (‘hildren‘s and International mixed up.’ he admits. ‘So it‘s tnuch easier being called the Batik of Scotland Imaginate l‘estival.‘

Making life less complicated for Reekie is only one reason behind the name change. however. By eliminating the word '(‘hildren's’ from the title. Reekie has been able to open up the Festival to a slightly older audience. And. for the first time. a show for ages l-l+ is on the bill. Written by David (ireig and performed by TAU 'l‘heatre. Yellow Moon is a modern-day Bonnie and (‘lyde tale about two teenagers on the run. 'l‘or me it's about responding to the work that‘s out there.. says Reekie. ’And Yellow Moon is a really strong piece of Scottish theatre for young people.‘

Aimed at ages l2+. Betty's/mud. by Belgian theatre company Kopergietery. also caters for that oft-ignored age-group. "l‘eenage audiences tend to get quite educational work made for them.‘ says Reekie. "l‘he kind of let's-pass—an-exam type of theatre. which is a shame. But Bern's/mm! is much tnore appealing ~ it talks about being young and how people view you. in a very thrilling way.‘

At the other end of the spectrum. Reekie is also looking after very young children. l’re-sclioolers are often forced to tag along to shows designed for older siblings. rather than ones tailor-made for tiny minds. Not any more. This year's festival has three shows for ages 2+. one for 3+ and We Dance. Wee (Jrooi‘e a fun.

interactive ‘club‘ for ages 0—4. ‘()ne of the things we try and do as a festival is create trends.‘ says Reekie. ‘But we also follow what‘s been happening elsewhere. and there‘s been a big movement across Europe looking at work for very young children.’

For Reekie. scouting liurope for good children's theatre is all in a day's work. Knowing which shows will appeal to toddlers. however. isn‘t easy. ‘As an adult. it‘s easier to understand the shows for slightly older children.‘ explains Reekie. ‘because they have structures and emotional journeys. But with work for the very young. it’s slightly different. because their

brains are just forming. So I try to be very aware of

how an audience responds to a show if I‘m having a great time but they‘re heading for the door. I probably shouldn‘t book it.‘

For those inbetween toddlers and teenagers. Reekie has programmed eight diverse shows hailing from Italy. Northern Ireland. lingland. Scotland and Denmark.

These include Scamp Theatre‘s superb rendition of

Michael Morpurgo‘s Aesop's Fables. (‘atherine Wheels' moving true story. The Lion of Kabul. a comic opera for children called Next Door and an intimate performance for 15 people set in a flea circus.

‘lt's just bonkers really.’ says Reekie of The Flea Fit. ‘1 try to offer a whole range of emotions at the Festival. bttt one of the things I want is for people to have a good time and a good laugh and The l’leu Pi! is one of the pieces that does that.‘

Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival, Sat 24 May-Mon 2 Jun. See www.imaginate.org.uk

* Farmer Jason Alt.country singer, Jason Ringenberg pulls on his dungarees for a morning of catchy tunes and farmyard fun. Gi/morehi/l G12, Glasgow, Wed 28 May.

* Liar Written by Davey Anderson, this mysterious tale for ages 8~12 explores friendship, betrayal and fear. Part of Glasgow’s new SHINE festival. Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, Sat 24 May—77w 5 Jun.

=l< The Graffan and Friends One of the UK's most popular children’s authors, Julia Donaldson brings her picture books to life with live action and singing. Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Sat 37 May.

=i= Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival The name may have changed, but this annual showing of top quality international children’s theatre is as exciting as ever. From toddlers to teenagers, Imaginate has programmed a diverse line-up for all-comers. See preview. Various venues, Edinburgh, Sat 24 May—Mon 2 Jun.

* Create Your Own Comic Learn from the best, as popular graphic novelists. Metaphrog (the peOple behind the Louis series) teach you how to turn stories into 2D images. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Fri 23 May

=8 Conservation Weekend Learn about the small changes that can make a big difference to our world, with a range of activities incorporating World Environment Day (5 Jun) and World Ocean Day (8 Jun). Deep Sea World, North Queensferry, Thu 5—Sun 8 Jun.

1)? May 5) Jun 2008 THE LIST 63