The year began with more than 1000 people packing the theatre over a January weekend as the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival served up a dazzling weekend of adventure films, inspirational speakers including explorer Benedict Allen (who would later make headlines across the world as he disappeared in Papua New Guinea) ocean adventurer Ollie Hicks and ultra-athlete Jenny Tough.
The festival also highlighted a selection of local heroes – adventurers of all ages living here and doing remarkable things, adding to the range of local community activities showcased throughout the Eastgate year.
Both the Tweeddale Society and Music in Peebles entertained packed audiences and Tweed Theatre struck gold with one comedy about pole dancing, another about elderly women escaping from a retirement home and five sell out pantomime performances starring evil Baron Trumpton.
These were just a few of more than 200 events – ranging across professional drama for children and adults, live music in all sorts of styles, blockbuster films and on screen relays of productions from the National Theatre, Royal Opera and Royal Ballet.
On the four Wednesdays in April the Anne Younger Studio was filled with audiences enjoying Bite Sized Entertainments – a light lunch following by a performance. This new strand in the programme this year featured performances by an author, a story teller, a soprano (singing Schumann) and the violinists of Riddle Fiddles.
The theatre saw an outstanding array of live music from near and far. The likes of McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle, RANT, Kris Drever and Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham brought the very best of trad and folk music, while bands such as Celtic Fiddle Festival, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, Martin Simpson, Woody Pines, The Honeycutters and 3hattrio (all US), plus Canada’s finest, The Paperboys, sprinkled some international stardust.
The theatre’s programme of festivals continued with a busier than ever Creative Peebles Festival in August, which culminated in an extraordinary 700-strong dance flashmob in Peebles High Street. Tom Swift’s film of the event proved to be a YouTube and social media sensation.
There were also bucketfuls of dance, glitz and glamour when the Lady Boys of Bangkok came to town for two sell-out shows in July. Peebles has rarely seen the like!
November saw two more busy festivals: the read-a-licious children’s book festival attended by more than 1,200 schoolchildren from almost a dozen schools across Tweeddale; plus Rapt in Winter – an annual festival of visual arts and crafts created and exhibited by local artists, galleries, workshops and studios.
In all, across 2016/17, the Eastgate staged more than 250 public events, with attendances up across the board – including for regular classes for the theatre’s participation programme during term time.
Meanwhile, café customers continued to enjoy the Eastgate throughout the year. In April, Food Buddies (Scottish Borders) and local catering social enterprise the Food Foundation announced that the Eastgate Theatre café was the first in the Scottish Borders to be awarded the official designation of dementia-friendly.
Such a positive year serves as background to the Eastgate’s recently announced development plans that will see the theatre begin a fundraising campaign in January designed to lever significant capital funding that will be used to increase the capacity of the building and develop an expanded suite of facilities. Exciting times.
For more information, contact Maggie Mackay, Eastgate Theatre, Peebles EH45 8AD. t. 01721 725777, e. firstname.lastname@example.org