News: Four new Family Encounters commissions announced

19 February 2024


As part of The Festival free opening family day, Family Encounters, which will take place on Saturday 25 May at the National Museum, the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival has just commissioned four new pieces of work from Scottish-based artists.

  • Two commissions (Soup and The Boy Who Couldn’t Sit Still) developed as part of Imaginate’s Creative Encounters project which places children at the heart of the creative and decision making process.
  • One commission (The Prom Pom Queen) in partnership with Merchant City Festival.
  • One commission (Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beetroots) in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA)

The first two were selected by young people involved in Creative Encounters, while the other two were selected by a panel including staff and freelance artists.

Soup by Suzi Cunningham and Alex McCabe from Moonslide

Soup will see two chefs attempting to make soup using a range of vegetables and utensils while getting into comical situations with sketches, tea-towel acrobatics and kitchen pot music making. This idea was selected by P4-P7 children from Forthview Primary School in Pilton who will work closely with the artists to develop the characters, compose music and choreograph dance routines for the final performance.

Suzi and Alex said: "Working in communities to explore dance, clown, and collaborative cooking, we've found that this can open minds, hearts and mouths to wholesome vegetable goodness. Soups bring generations together. They represent at once ancestral wisdom and individual creativity: they bind families and cultures together, they recycle off-cuts, and they are made for sharing."

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Cecilia Thoden van Velzen and Cameron Prince

The Boy... will be a dance between a boy and the chair he’s been told to stay in. What happens when this boring kitchen chair starts moving its legs? And what happens when you simply can’t sit still? The idea was selected by children attending Pilton Youth Project who will work with the artists to develop the boy’s incredible imagination, as well as support a puppet designer with the design of the magical chair.

Cecilia and Cam said: “There is nothing more powerful than imagining something that makes the world around you more interesting. And there is nothing more frustrating than being told that you can’t or shouldn’t. We want to celebrate those great unseen ideas and amplify the voices of the children who came up with them.”

The Prom Pom Queen by Kerry Cleland and collaborators Ben Winger & Katy Wilson

This will involve an extravagant character offering playful pom pom provocations around the museum. Prom Pom Queen will also appear at the Merchant City Festival in July. Pom poms can be anything and everything and within them is a world of opportunity. Families will be able to watch, interact or relax, and even make their own pom pom. The Prom Pom Queen costume will be designed by renowned costume designer Alison Brown.  

Kerry said: "the costume will be elaborate but the play will be simple. It's about connecting with one another, going on a journey with people and seeing where we end up. The audience informs the story. So what happens? I don't know yet, but I cannot WAIT to find out!" 

Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beetroots by Lewis Sherlock

This celebrates all that we love and hate about vegetables, with two giant beetroots and their carrot microphones dancing and interacting with young audiences as they roam the museum. This will also be performed at Aberdeen’s Light the Blue festival in June as part of a partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Lewis said: “Pitch-forked as deliberately low-key, The Lo Fi Hip Hop Beetroots focus on gentle engagement with the audience whilst making fun music and lo-fi dances. They are the ultimate warm up gang – and they are good in a salad too.”

All four performances will be performed throughout the day at the Festival’s Family Encounters on Saturday 25 May. The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival runs from 25 May – 2 June and will offer a jam-packed programme of circus, dance, storytelling and theatre for young people, their schools and families, as well as industry professionals.

The Festival’s full programme will be announced on 20 March.