The Big Imaginations Festival 2019 took place from Friday 11 October – Sunday 3 November. Tiff from Big Imaginations venue Z-arts toured across the region during the festival to see all the shows in venues including community centres, museums and even an old Argos store! Here she tells us about her experiences…


Over October and the beginning of November, I went to see some shows that were part of the Big Imaginations Festival. I really enjoyed the shows I saw as part of the festival, as well as the activities and workshops that ran alongside them. From traditional arts spaces like Z-arts, to site-specific shows in libraries and galleries, there was a fantastic range of family-friendly theatre, storytelling, music and art from national and international companies across 30 venues throughout the north.


The festival overall had a relaxed, family-friendly vibe. For instance, families could come and go as they needed, without having to wait for an interval or the end of the show. Audience members were allowed to meet performers after the shows as well, and each show had its own visual story for those that might want to know a bit more about what to expect before they arrived at a venue.


What I also loved about the festival was that I discovered new places and travelled to cities and boroughs I’d never normally go to. Theatre can exist anywhere – community centres, museums, an old Argos store! I’ve rediscovered a love for libraries as well – sometimes you forget the wonderful resources that are on your doorstep! Traditional Tales with a Twist has encouraged me to fish out my library card again and reignited my love for reading. It’s also been great to see libraries buzzing with noise and action – gone are the days of staying silent in libraries. Instead, I saw kids being actively encouraged to express their joy of stories and discovery.  Always lovely to see!


From the singing shrubbery in The Musical Botanist to the geometric projections in Mini, I liked how the festival embraced technology to explore and convey positive messages and themes. First Person was a really unique experience. We were handed a set of headphones and guided by a narrator who asked us to pick a team – red or blue. Being allowed to run around Central Library was super fun! A quirky mix of physical theatre and silent disco, it was a game to find happiness, with both players teaming up at the end to win the prize.


My personal favourite was Kaleidoscope – a pretty and playful show for little ones aged 6-18 months. The show used interactive lighting, puppetry, movement and sound to create a mesmerising and accessible first-time theatre experience for little ones, introducing them to a kaleidoscope of colours, with integrated BSL. Not only were the babies transfixed, the grownups looked so relaxed as well, as their little ones were encouraged to crawl and play and explore within the performance space.


I did a social media takeover to share my adventures across the festival (#TiffonTour) – check out our socials to see what I got up to! Did you attend any of the shows as part of the Big Imaginations Festival? Get in touch and let us know what you thought!