Swift’s tour has already seen her perform at venues from Caithness to Edinburgh, beguiling audiences with an intimate show full of original compositions and traditional works.

As a composer and performer, Swift has been likened to Kate Bush, Anna Meredith and Björk, with a style that draws on her folk roots and taking influence from a love of jazz, minimalism and dance music.

Recent commissions have centred around composing instrumental settings for work from poets such as Carol Ann Duffy, William Butler Yeats and Rachel McCrum.

Esther Swift’s appearance is the first of two live performances on consecutive nights featuring exceptional local musical talent.

There’s a distinct change of pace on 14 April when The Coohands, a four-piece Americana band, take to the stage for a fundraising gig for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Featuring Ken Kennedy on the big bass fiddle, Murray Charters on percussion, Henry Taylor on mandolin and Seoras Ashby on guitar, the band play old-time songs from Hank Williams through to new roots music from the likes of Steve and Justin Townes Earle.

“We are all local and have been playing together in this combo and others for many years,” explained Murray Charters. “We get audience’s toes tapping and even get them up a jigging when in the mood!”

Further details and tickets available from Box Office on 01721 725777 or online at eastgatearts.com

Families First at the Eastgate

The family magic begins on 6 April with a performance of The Seven Ravens – an extraordinary adventure from the creative minds of Tragic Carpet Theatre, inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

A mix of live puppetry, digital imaging, projection, needle felting and specially composed music and song, it tells the story of a young girl who is unhappy at school. She is visited by a raven and thrust into an extraordinary dream world of quests, feathers, a glass mountain and a secret about her past.

On 11 April, Quentin Blake’s magnificent story of Mister Magnolia is brought to life on stage by Folksy Theatre. It’s a wonderfully inventive drama full of exciting characters, puppetry, live music and audience interaction.

Then, on 8 June, four classically trained singers accompanied by musicians playing viola , bassoon and percussion perform Borka: The Goose with no Feathers – a 45-minute children’s opera that weaves live music, drama, singing, puppetry and animation to tell the charming tale of a goose that is very different to the rest of her family.

There is hands-on creativity on offer too with Art Space (3 to 7 April), a brand-new, week-long art class for children aged 8 to 12, run by artist Hannah Davies. From drawing, painting and use of mixed media to mono-printing and 3-d modelling, each morning class will teach a new skill, with participants creating a piece of work to take home at the end of each session.

For those who like to express themselves rather more loudly, Mat Clements returns with a new three-day Big Drum Adventure (11 to 13 April) – a musical jamboree of drumming, games and activities.

The family-friendly programming is completed by screenings of a range of films including Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mummies, Super Mario Brothers and The Little Mermaid.

“This spring and beyond, we’re really broadening our programme to allow younger audiences to engage with a wide variety of art forms in a range of fun and exciting ways,” commented Erin Hogan Thompson, the Eastgate’s Assistant Venue Manager.

Further details and tickets available from Box Office on 01721 725777 or online at eastgatearts.com

Cardigans Singer Tae Sup with Fellow Stars

Swedish singer Persson will appear alongside the formidable talents of not just Yorkston himself but also Radiohead drummer Philip Selway, Shetland comedian and storyteller Marjolein Robertson and Highlands-based singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni.

Known for tracks such as Lovefool, My Favourite Game and Erase/Rewind, Persson joins the line-up for the evening following the release in January of The Great White Sea Eagle, a new record on which she features with Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra.

The Tae Sup wi’ A Fifer club night comes to the Eastgate Theatre on Saturday 18 February. Show starts 7.30pm. Tickets available from Box Office on 01721 725777 or online at eastgatearts.com

A New Year Full of Delights

From late January, there’s a chance to escape the winter weather with a series of heart- and mind-warming Wednesday afternoon storytelling sessions, followed by a light lunch. Featuring acclaimed story tellers Ruth Kirkpatrick, Dougie Mackay, James Spence, Joan Morrison and Heather Yule, it is a chance to re-connect with the simple joy of listening to a story well told.

The power of words – this time celebrating nature, landscape, people and place – will also take centre stage when the brand-new Wild Writers Festival brings many of the world’s most adventurous authors and photographers to Peebles on the final weekend in January.

The exciting line-up includes Cameron McNeish, Sara Barnes, Anna Fleming, Kevin Morgans, Jenny Tough, Iain Cameron and Malachy Tallack who will all share ideas, stories, influences and inspirations.

Also beginning in January are two new drama and dance classes: one exploring a dark past and the other the potential for a bright future.

Rope and Flame is the title of a new series of 10 drama workshops that delve into a time when ordinary men and women in the Borders who fell under the suspicion of the Kirk were  interrogated and tortured. It was a period when the cry of ‘witch’ usually led to execution – the rope and the flame. The workshops will culminate in an opportunity to share the work in March.

Meanwhile, Future:Perfect is the name of a series of three contemporary dance workshops – Who I Was, Who I Am and Who I Choose to Be – that will culminate in an expressive performance about identity, relationships and potential in May.

There is world-class opera, ballet and drama on screen too, courtesy of Royal Opera productions of The Barber of Seville and Turandot, Royal Ballet’s Like Water for Chocolate and the National Theatre’s star-studded productions of The Crucible and Othello.

The first quarter of the year also sees some tantalising live music from near and far, including The Jeremiahs, Cua, Fara and Wayward Jane, plus another masterfully curated Tae Sup Wi’ A Fifer – James Yorkston’s latest club night, this time featuring folklorist Marjolein Robertson, Radiohead drummer Philip Selway and singer/songwriter Rachel Sermanni.

New Faces at the Eastgate

Deborah Gallagher comes to the Eastgate with a wealth of experience in arts programming, theatre management and teaching storytelling. Born in Edinburgh, she has worked across the UK, most recently managing a successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe venue where she staged two premiere musicals.

Before returning to Edinburgh, she was General Manager of Farnham Maltings in Surrey, an arts complex comprising a 400-seat theatre, cinema, community arts centre, rehearsal studios and café/bars. One of the highlights of her career was running a celebration festival for 3,000 people to mark the venue’s 50th anniversary.

Deborah has also worked as the Operations & House Manager for the 650-seat Theatre Royal Windsor and as the Community Arts Officer for a local council, where she developed the annual arts programming for all ages.

“I have been visiting Peebles for the last few years since returning to Edinburgh as it brings back many happy childhood memories for me,” commented Deborah. “I am so thrilled to be given this opportunity as Director of the Eastgate Theatre.

“The last few years have been a challenge for theatres and arts centres but now is the time to look forward to a creative future, building on the great work already achieved at the Eastgate and working with the staff and Board members to create many memorable experiences for the local community and beyond.  “I look forward to meeting all the Eastgate’s current friends and those we make in the future – see you in January.”

Jamie Hill is new – just pre-lockdown – to Peebles, from over the watershed, Lanark on the Clyde. Jamie, who lives just a 10-minute walk from the Eastgate and is a frequent visitor, describes it as “the hidden additional personal cost of deciding to move to Peebles”. He added: “We are so fortunate to have such a brilliant facility in the town, with top quality concerts, theatre and film, and a real local asset for caring for the needs of young and old in the community.”

 Courtenay Drakos arrives as the Eastgate’s temporary Technical Manager from Northern Ireland where she was Scenic Construction and Workshop Manager at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. Born and raised in New York, she has also worked for several years in Scotland as a production manager for everything from one-person shows and universities to large-scale Edinburgh fringe productions.

Erin Hogan Thompson joins the theatre to work across programming and digital marketing. Originally from Ohio, her previous appointments in Scotland centred on Leith and included Marketing and Admin Manager for Pianodrome, Producer for two LeithLate festivals and Marketing and Events Coordinator for Leith Theatre.


Eastgate Launches Full Festive Line-up

Running from 1 to 3 Dec, local company Tweed Theatre makes a triumphant return to the panto stage with its spin on the classic story of Cinderella, complete with the requisite ugly sisters, fairies, princesses, dancing horses and plenty of bad jokes.

The following week (8 Dec), there’s not a dragon in sight as Games of Thrones’ Emilia Clark makes her West End debut in Anya Reiss’ 21st century retelling of The Seagull – Chekhov’s devastating tale of love and loneliness.

Filmed live on stage, the play is set in an isolated home in the countryside, where artistic conflicts abound, dreams lie in tatters, hopes are dashed and hearts are well and truly broken.

It’s then back to Christmas tradition and cheer when acclaimed tribute band Buddy Holly and the Cricketers herald in the yuletide festivities in perfect style on 14 Dec. A mix of Holly’s hits, other contemporary classics plus some rip-roaring Christmas crackers are all wrapped up in a fast-paced and riotously funny performance.

And it just wouldn’t be a proper Christmas without the Downright Homespun Radio Company House Band and Royal Company of Radio Actors bringing their brand of irreverent humour and foot-tappin’ music to the Eastgate (15 to 17 Dec) as they dissect the year’s key events and happenings – all with a local twist.

Tickets for all performances are available from Box Office on 01721 725777 or online at eastgatearts.com

Big Bike Film Night Returns for Second Spin

As with last autumn when the film night came to Peebles for the first time, the evening will be hosted by the effervescent, Deeside-based Kiwi Ollie Hawkley. Ollie will introduce a stunning collection of short and documentary films that have everything a cycle-centric audience could want – action, drama, humour and plenty of inspiration covering every possible cycling discipline. The 2022 Big Bike Film Night screens at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, 7pm, Sat 22 Oct. Tickets £15, £25 adult and child, available from Box Office on 01721 725777 or online.

David Hayman in Peebles

This year he shows once more that he is equally at home on stage, with his return as everyman Bob Cunninghame in Fair Pley’s latest production, Time’s Plague, a fine showcase of his versatility. Having planned to walk the West Highland Way with his pals, Bob instead finds himself stuck in a hospital bed, about to undergo a risky operation that he is convinced will see him off. So, he walks the fabled route in his mind, ranting about the injustice and state of the world as he goes. Charming and cantankerous in equal measure, he really has just one wish: for his voice to be heard. David Hayman appears in Time’s Plague at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles – 7.30pm, Thurs 8 Sept.

Relive the Battle of Mt Ventoux

Cycling fans are in for a treat at the Eastgate Theatre on 16 Sept when 2Magpies Theatre tours its production of Ventoux – a dramatic retelling of one of the most memorable stage races in the history of the Tour de France.

Star Turns This July

Almost three years since they last toured, The Unthanks – Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky together with their band – return to Peebles on 7 July with a new record and a stunning back catalogue of tracks.

It’s traditional folk music, but not really; the arrangements and writing of composer, pianist and producer Adrian McNally switch and flow effortlessly to encompass jazz, classical, ambient and post-rock. As Elvis Costello once commented, “They run from the very root of folk music to the very tip of the branch”.

The same could perhaps also be said of James Yorkston, a master musician who will both perform and present his latest Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer club night on 24 July.

The Eastgate is one of only four venues in the country selected for this latest Tae Sup. And the line-up is as imaginative as ever with music from Brìghde Chaimbeul and Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, plus poetry and more from renowned performance poet Salena Godden.

“With Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer, I just try and mix things up, keeping the line-ups interesting, not one particular genre or theme to a night,” explained Yorkston. “A lot of the people I ask to play are friends who I’ve known for years, or just people I’ve met on the road whose music has taken to me. When programming Tae Sup, I just think ‘who would I like to see?’ and work from there.”

The stellar trio of performances is topped off by Ralph Fiennes who leads an exceptional cast in the National Theatre’s Straight Line Crazy (15 July), directed by Nicholas Hytner. The play is a blazing portrait of Robert Moses, a visionary but aggressive urban planner whose hand shaped much of metropolitan New York.

For 40 uninterrupted years, he was the most powerful man in the city, manipulating those elected to office through a mix of guile, charm and intimidation. It is both an intriguing true story and an electrifying deconstruction of the nature of power and democracy.

For tickets for The Unthanks, Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer, Straight Line Crazy and many other performances in July, call Box Office on 01721 725777, or go online at eastgatearts.com