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Big Imaginations Festival brings the best of children’s theatre to the north

Home » To do & see » Big Imaginations Festival brings the best of children’s theatre to the north

Have you got a Big Imagination? That’s the question Big Imaginations, the North of England’s festival of theatre for families, is asking children this autumn.

The festival sees a fantastic range of family-friendly theatre, storytelling, music and art from national and international companies across 30 venues across the north, from traditional arts spaces like Z-arts Manchester and Waterside, Sale to site-specific shows in libraries and galleries.

All ages are catered for. Kaleidoscope from Filskit Theatre, which features twinkling lights, mirrors, colours and sounds and has been created specifically for babies and toddlers aged 6 – 18 months.

The interactive show Mini from Italy’s Compagnia TPO encourages children between 2 and 4 years to move with two dancers to chase ever-shifting geometric shapes projected onto a playmat. Playful and gentle, it’s a game that can be played at home long after the show.

For those aged three years and upwards, iPet from Dutch company, Bontehond, is an hilarious exploration of the rise of the screen with no chit-chat, just music, magic, movement and bananas pulled out of iPads.


Story-teller Gav Cross pops up in his Story Cave with Traditional Tales With A Twist, promising silly stories, updated traditional tales, and folk tales from across the world for children aged 4 and up.

Jason Singh, composer and performer at this year’s BBC Proms, Arun Ghosh, a multi-award-winning jazz clarinettist and composer and visual artist Fabric Lenny have created Stitch Brothers Patchwork Wonders for 5 to 8-year-olds. Commissioned for the Big Imagination Festival Stitch Brothers transports audiences into a magical wonky dreamworld of beatboxing, live drawing, animation, jazz, hip-hop and South Asian folk music.

Acclaimed poet, Murray Lachlan Young has created a gothic mash up of poetry, performance and music in The Mystery Of The Raddlesham Mumps. Suitable for those aged 7 and over, it follows Crispin de Quincy de Faversham Clumps after the windswept double funeral of his parents. Crispin becomes the sole inheritor of his magnificent ancestral home, Raddlesham Mumps. Left alone in the huge house, with only Kenilworth the ancient butler for company, events take an amusingly dark turn complete with the re-telling of the darkly comic deaths of his illustrious ancestors.

For older audiences, aged 11+, First Person from Zest Theatre features two players in the virtual world of gaming. A quirky mix of physical theatre and silent disco, it’s a game to find – and win – at happiness.

And for people of all ages, 154 Collective’s The Musical Botanist is a market stall-come-musical installation featuring singing shrubbery and harmonious herbs to make a horticultural orchestra.

Creator and performer, Murray Lachlan Young says: “Having found my poetic voice at Salford University, I’m excited to be returning to the North of England to be part of the Big Imaginations Festival with my new show. I’m in fantastic creative company as the festival line-up features the very best of theatre and art for children and families.

“I believe this festival will inspire children to become the next generation of actors, theatre directors, musicians and artists in the North, the UK and beyond. The arts are something Britain excels at and I’m thrilled to be part of such an inspiring festival.”

The Big Imaginations Festival takes place from Friday 11 October – Sunday 3 November at more than 30 venues across the north including, Z-arts (Manchester), Central Library (Manchester), Longsight Library (Manchester), The Forum (Wythenshawe),Touchstones (Rochdale), Portland Basin (Ashton-upon-Lyne), Astley Cheetham Gallery (Stalybridge), Waterside (Sale), and The Turnpike (Leigh). Visit www.bigimaginations.co.uk for details.

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Written by
Carmel Thomason
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Avatar photo Written by Carmel Thomason