The Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival will return this February half-term (9th – 19th February). As ever with this annual event, the Royal Festival Hall is taken over with a packed programme aimed at young people, including theatre, dance, music, installations, readings and workshops.
New for this year is the festival’s Nordic theme, in keeping with the Southbank Centre’s year-long exploration of Nordic arts and culture, Nordic Matters. Apparently, every country in the Nordic region is represented at the festival; this includes work from two Nordic theatre companies: Pero Theatre from Sweden, and Gruppe 38 from Denmark. Tamsin Ace, Imagine Children’s Festival’s Lead Programmer, says she is excited to see “how the Nordic view on childhood, based around playfulness, manifests itself in the festival” – a good place to look will be the three interactive theatre pieces, which offer plenty of opportunity for playfulness.
Here’s our round-up of all the children’s theatre at the festival…
Ready, Steady, GO!
Ready Steady GO! is an immersive, interactive theatre show which puts children in the driver’s seat. Participants are welcomed to driving school, given a tool kit, and are able to create, decorate and drive their own cardboard car.
For ages 3-9, 18th & 19th February, more information here
Why The Whales Came
This is the second Michael Morpurgo adaptation from theatre company Wizard Presents, and another one-woman show from the multi-award-winning performer and storyteller, Danyah Miller. Set in 1914, it follows two children living on a small island, and intrigued by a mysterious figure. Our review last year called it “a vivid, enchanting and beautiful gem of a production with a heartfelt message, delivered in an imaginative and thought-provoking way”. The performance is followed by a live Q&A with author Michael Morpurgo.
For ages 7+, 17th February, more information here
Neverland is a new immersive show for 1 – 3 year olds and their parents. Set in a beautiful tented space, it uses 360° video projections, music and performance to tell the story of a child’s imagination. Once inside, audiences can stay tucked up in bed or venture out and interact directly with the performers and other children. The experience offers meaningful opportunities for adults and children to engage with the performance and play together.
For ages 1-3, 7th – 9th February, more information here
Aston’s Stones follows a dog who loves looking after all the stones he can find. It’s a story about love, empathy and appreciating the little things in life – qualities that come easily to children, but are harder to grasp for grown-ups. Using physical theatre and mime, Swedish theatre company Pero Theatre present this production for 3-6 year olds.
For ages 3-6, 13th – 15th February, more information here
Hans Christian, You Must Be An Angel
It’s Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, and all your fairytale favourites have come together for a feast to celebrate their creator. The table is set, and two waiters are tasked with serving characters from about twenty stories in this piece of interactive theatre from world-renowned Danish theatre company Gruppe 38.
For ages 7+, 17th – 18th February, more information here
Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.