2020

Make Space launches

We announce Make Space, a new project inviting theatre makers to spend time researching ideas for what children’s theatre could look like in ‘the new normal’.

2020

We pause

We begin planning our celebrations of 21 years of Catherine Wheels, and 10 years of White, but all plans abruptly stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We take a pause, and over the Easter weekend, stream White Online to over 6,000 viewers via YouTube.

2020

Emma Jones joins

Emma Jones joins the Catherine Wheels team as our Production Manager. Emma brings a wealth of experience working with Scottish theatre companies – most recently as Head of Production at Scottish Dance Theatre.

2019

Tony Reekie joins

Tony Reekie joins Catherine Wheels as our Executive Director, having previously been the CEO of Imaginate Children’s Festival and an internationally respected consultant within the family theatre sector. Tony is, however, already very familiar with us and our work, as he is also married to Gill Robertson.

2019

Shona Reppe’s Atlantis Banal

We support Shona Reppe on her latest production, Atlantis Banal: Beneath the Surface. The show tours across Scotland, inviting audience members into the immersive and surreally intriguing Pop-Up Art Gallery.

2019

Emma and Gill

Catherine Wheels collaborate with Lung Ha Theatre Company to produce Emma and Gill. A touching and humorous show which questions what is ‘normal’ and why being different should be celebrated.

2019

WhirlyGig

Gill Robertson directs the “madcap musical adventure” WhirlyGig by Daniel Padden and co-produced with Red Bridge Arts.

2018

Funding cut

We lose our CS funding but after two weeks and with the help of Catherine Wheels’ supporters around the world we get it back!

2018

1500th White performance

White performs its 1500th performance in Japan, as part of the Ricca Ricca Festa. We celebrated with our colleagues with a traditional Scottish ceilidh of course!

2018

Eddie and the Slumber Sisters

We collaborate with National Theatre of Scotland once again to produce Eddie and the Slumber Sisters – a heart-warming fable which blends music, magic and imagination. The show performs at Imaginate Festival in May.

2018

How to Fix a Broken Wing

We premiere our latest show for schools, How to Fix a Broken Wing at a school in Glasgow, created by Pete Collins with playwright Lewis Hetherington.

2017

Green Wheels established

We establish Green Wheels – our company-wide initiative to be more environmentally friendly on our tours. We introduce a Green Touring plan, providing company members with options of kit which would reduce their environmental impact while out on tour, and encouraging a ‘refuse what you don’t need’ starting point. Read more about Green Wheels here.

2017

Gill visits Japan

Gill Robertson travels with writer Robert Alan Evans to Japan to deliver a series workshops with artists in Okinawa, supported by the Ricca Ricca Festival.

2017

White is on the road again

This time performing to children and their families across Europe, and then embarking on its first tour to China.

2017

Martha visits China

Catherine Wheels works with artists in Shanghai to create a Chinese version of our award-winning show, Martha. The show is performed at the A.S.K. in July.

2017

Lifeboat in Leeds

Fifteen years after its premiere, Lifeboat performs at West Yorkshire Playhouse, as well as touring to smaller community venues around Leeds.

2017

The Little Gentleman goes rural

The Story of The Little Gentleman tours to Scottish rural venues, and is nominated for a CATS award.

2016

Martha goes back to school

Martha tours to 30 primary schools across Scotland, as the inaugural production of Theatre in Schools Scotland (TISS), an initiative with Catherine Wheels, Imaginate and National Theatre of Scotland, with the aim that “Every child in Scotland will have the opportunity to experience at least one piece of performing arts per year as part of their core education”.

2016

The Little Gentleman goes to school

We revise The Story of The Little Gentleman for a tour of Scottish Schools. We perform the show to a mammoth 11,000 school children in 78 schools, finishing the tour at the Imaginate Children’s Festival in May.

2016

Lost at Sea – a Science Festival commission

We are commissioned by Edinburgh International Science Festival to produce Lost at Sea. The show is inspired by the book Moby Duck by Donovan Holn and follows the trail of a container of bath toys that ends up washed overboard, and looks at the impact of plastic in our oceans. The show goes on to tour to schools across Scotland and is nominated for a CATS award.

2015

Suzie Normand joins

Suzie Normand formally joins Catherine Wheels as our Company Stage Manager. We started working with Suzie in 1999, on our very first production, Martha. As well as the millions of things off-stage her job entails, she also makes an onstage appearance as the Dance Captain in The Voice Thief.

2015

White’s 100th performance!

Another bumper year for White; the show travels to Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, as well as a 6th tour in Europe. We celebrate the 1000th show at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway, New York. Where better to celebrate a milestone of this magnitude than in the Big Apple?

2015

Magic Sho premieres

We produce Shona Reppe’s latest captivating production, Magic Sho, which premieres in September at Carnegie Hall in Fife.

2015

Gill travels to India

Straight after the festival, Gill travels to India to deliver Artists Lab, in partnership with Ruchirad Das from Think Arts. The month-long project guides and supports Indian artists to develop work for children and young people.

2015

The Voice Thief wins a CATS

The Voice Thief wins a Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) for Best Production for Children and Young People, before a run at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There, the show becomes one of the ‘hits’ of the Festival is nominated for a Total Theatre Award and wins a Primary Times’ Children’s Choice Award.

2014

A double bill in New York

We head to New York where Andy Manley surprises unsuspecting pupils in their classrooms across the city to perform Kappa – as well as taking over the New Victory Pondlife to sell-out audiences.

2014

White in tinseltown

White enjoys a taste of tinsel town and performs at the new Wallis theatre in Beverley Hills, LA.

2014

The Voice Thief premieres

We create a new promenade show; The Voice Thief – inviting audiences into the sinister MacKenzie Institute for the Encouragement of Vocal Harmony, in the Summerhall basement.

2014

White: The app

Building on the success of White, we collaborate with app developers Hippotrix, to create White The App, the world’s first theatre-inspired digital toy for young children. Try it for yourself here.

2014

HUFF at the Traverse Theatre

Shona Reppe’s theatre installation HUFF is performed at the Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as part of the Made in Scotland showcase.

2014

300 performances of Lifeboat

Lifeboat celebrates 300th performance.

2013

White / Hvit

The White team heads to Norway to direct Hvit (or White) in Norwegian.

2013

Stuck tours to schools

Stuck, a story of two siblings dealing with life inside a small boat, tours to primary schools across Scotland. Michael Sherin and Catherine Wheels’ Artistic Director Gill Robertson play the quarrelling siblings, directed by Sheila Macdougall and Karen Tennent.

2013

HUFF at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

We support Shona Reppe and Andy Manley to produce their show HUFF at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The show is a unique, and slightly scary, immersive experience based on the story of the three little pigs.

2012

The Ugly Duckling

Rounding off the year, we co-produce The Ugly Duckling with The Arches Glasgow. The production, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale is a disco-fuelled, glitter-filled production for families at Christmas.

2012

A double bill at the Festivals

At the Edinburgh Festival we perform Pondlife McGurk, and produce Shona Reppe’s The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean, in a double bill for the Traverse Theatre @ The Scottish Book Trust. Both shows are part of the 2012 Made in Scotland showcase. Andy Manley wins a Herald Archangel, recognising his ‘sustained contribution to Edinburgh Festivals’

2012

Kes nominated for CATS

Back in Scotland, Kes is nominated for a CATS Award, up against Shona Reppe’s The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean.

2012

White tours the world

White continues to tour and delight audiences around the world, touring across Asia, Australasia and Europe, and is nominated for a Helpmann Award while in Australia.

2011

Josephine Bean premieres

Shona Reppe’s The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean premieres in October.

2011

SJP sees White!

Sarah Jessica Parker attends White with her family at the New Victory Theatre in New York and leaves us a note to say it was “one of the great experiences of a lifetime. Thank you for great memories”

2011

White has a bumper year

White has a bumper year of touring – performing to audiences in Scotland at the Imaginate Children’s Festival, New York and at the ASSITEJ World Congress in Copenhagen and Malmo. Our first White Christmas is at London’s Southbank Centre. We also win three CATS awards (Best Show for Children and Young People, Best Design, Best Technical Production) and one TMA award for Best Show for Children and Young People.

2011

Kes premieres in Dundee

Kes by Rob Evans premieres at the Dundee Rep Theatre, before embarking on a Scottish tour.

2011

One Thousand Paper Cranes

We produce Lu Kemp’s One Thousand Paper Cranes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which wins the Scottish Arts Club inaugural award for Outstanding Scottish Contribution to Theatre on the Fringe.

2011

Two shows nominated for CATS

Caged – our adaptation of Beauty and the Beast premieres, and is nominated for a CATS award (but loses out to our own production White.)

2010

Hannah and Hanna

Our third new production of the year, Hannah and Hanna, is a schools-only production about two young friends in Margate – both sixteen, but with very different experiences of immigration in the UK.

2010

Martha and Pondlife at Imaginate

We perform not one but two productions at this year’s Imaginate Festival; Pondlife at Churchill Theatre, and Martha at Brunton and Traverse Theatre.

2010

White premieres

White premieres at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – and becomes an instant hit with audiences and critics. The production wins a Herald Angel, a Scotsman Fringe First, a TMA Theatre award a Total Theatre award and an Edinburgh Art Club award.

Since then, White has gone on to tour around the world and performed to over 100,000 audience members.

2010

Pobby & Dingan

We produce Pobby & Dingan – a new show based on Ben Rice’s novella of the same name set in the Australian outback town of Lightning Ridge. The production is nominated for a CATS award for Best Show for Children and Young People, and wins a TMA Theatre Award in the same category.

2009

Potato premieres

Shona Reppe’s Potato Needs a Bath premieres in August at Carnegie Hall in Fife and tours across Scotland. The show goes on to tour across the globe, including Australia, Canada, UK, the Netherlands and Ireland.

2009

Hansel and Gretel in NYC

Hansel and Gretel takes over the whole of the New Victory Theatre in New York, where it is nominated for two prestigious New York Drama Desk Awards, including Unique Theatrical Experience.

2009

The Book of Beasts

We premiere The Book of Beasts, based on the short story by E Nesbit. Directed by Jo Timmons and stars Ian Cameron who works for the first time with the company and goes on to create the character Wrinkle in White.

2008

Christmas at the Barbican

2008

Martha wins over Chinese audiences

Martha tours to China and wins Best Production award at Shanghai International Children’s Festival.

2008

A National Theatre Scotland co-production

We premiere Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – a co-production with National Theatre Scotland – a deliciously scary adventure about friendship and innocence.

2008

Lifeboat makes history at the Sydney Opera House

Lifeboat is invited to perform at the New Zealand International Festival and to Sydney, Australia, where it becomes the first Scottish children’s theatre production to appear at the Sydney Opera House.

2008

Going Solo (again)

Our second production part of Going Solo project, The Ballad of Pondlife McGurk, tours to schools across Scotland.

2007

Lifeboat docks in NYC

Lifeboat tours to the New Victory Theatre off Broadway, New York, and across the UK.

2007

Hansel and Gretel at Imaginate

HOME: East Lothian – renamed Hansel and Gretel is performed at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival and at Tramway, Glasgow.

2007

Wij leren Nederlands

Gill and Andy learn Dutch to perform Martha in Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival in Groningen.

2007

Going Solo!

Following on from our 2005-6 Theatre in Schools project, we embark on Going Solo - a project funded by the National Lottery - to produce two solo performances for primary school children that will bring high quality, affordable theatre into classrooms. Our first show under the project is Kappa, written by Robert Alan Evans, and devised / performed by Andy Manley.

2007

A Town Called Elsewhere

We commission and produce A Town Called Elsewhere a show for P1-P3 children, performed in school halls. The show tours across Scotland.

2006

The Lion of Kabul premieres

A production inspired by a true story about a friendship that defies the odds, performed by Gill. The show takes place within a purpose-built tent, and tours to venues across Scotland.

2006

Martha goes to school

We continue our ground-breaking Theatre in Schools project and tour Martha to over 80 schools across Scotland.

2006

We celebrate the launch of NTS

Gill is one of ten directors invited by the National Theatre of Scotland to mark its launch by creating a site-specific piece in East Lothian on the theme of Home. HOME: East Lothian is a site-specific retelling of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, at Prestongrange Mining Museum. The production goes on to win two CATS – Best Show for Children and Young People, and Best Design (for Karen Tennent).

2005

A festive hat-trick

At Christmas, we have not one but three residencies – with Holly and Ivy at the Lyric, Hammersmith; Snow Baby at the Tron, Glasgow and Martha at Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham.

2005

The Bermuda Triangle hits Martha

Martha tours to Bermuda, where we succumb to the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle! Our set gets lost in transit, so the company have to build a brand new one from whatever they can find on the beach.

2005

Lifeboat performs to a special audience

We perform Lifeboat to some of the remaining survivors from the sinking of the City of Benares. Presented at the Unicorn Theatre in London this show is a highlight for everyone involved in making the show.

2005

Cyrano nominated for CATS

Cyrano is invited to perform at the North American Showcase (now IPAY), and is nominated for a CATS Award for Best Show for Children and Young People.

2005

Shona Reppe’s Ugly Duckling

Catherine Wheels produces Shona Reppe’s Ugly Duckling – the first show of many of Shona’s that we produce.

2005

Cinderella’s Sisters

We premiere Cinderella’s Sisters, written by Mike Kenny, at the Brunton Theatre before embarking on a UK tour.

2005

We begin schools-only touring

Catherine Wheels is awarded funding from Creative Scotland to produce a schools-only tour of two shows. This is the first time such a project has been undertaken, and it starts with touring Lifeboat in Autumn 2005.

2004

Holly and Ivy for Christmas

Holly and Ivy is our Christmas show for MacRobert Arts Centre in Stirling.

2004

Martha at the Fringe

We perform Martha at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time, at the Gateway Theatre on Leith Walk. The late, great, Pauline Knowles plays Martha.

2004

Two shows nominated for CATS

Snow Baby and The Story of The Little Gentleman are up against each other at the CATS Awards – both nominated for Best Show for Children and Young People (unfortunately, neither win).

2004

Cyrano

We premiere Cyrano, a swashbuckling comedy about tragedy, love, loss, and a massive nose, at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival.

2004

Imaginate placements

We welcome two Imaginate placements – Adele Sacks and Heather Fulton who work with us for nine months, to provide them managerial and artistic experience in the theatre for young people sector. They support our productions of Holly and Ivy and Cyrano. Heather now runs her own theatre company Frozen Charlotte (with link), Adele lives in Canada and still visits us occasionally!

2004

Louise Gilmour-Wills joins

Louise Gilmour-Wills joins Catherine Wheels – and she has been a huge part of the team ever since! Read more about Louise here.

2003

Craig Fleming joins

Craig Fleming (who becomes our production manager) joins Catherine Wheels as Stage Manager. Craig stays with the company until 2019.

2003

Snow Baby

We produce Snow Baby performed by Gill and directed by Andy Manley, based on a short story by Monty Python creator Terry Jones.

2003

A VIP audience member

We are thrilled when Bess Cummings comes to see Lifeboat at the Brewery Arts Centre, and meets the cast and crew afterwards. Lifeboat wins a TMA award for Best Show for Children and Young People.

2002

Catherine Wheels’ first visit to London!

Catherine Wheels perform for the first time at Polka Children’s Theatre in London, with The Story of The Little Gentleman.

2002

Paul Fitzpatrick joins

Paul Fitzpatrick joins Catherine Wheels as Producer and stays with the company until 2015 when he leaves to become Chief Executive of Imaginate.

2002

The Little Gent

The Story of the Little Gentleman, performed by Andy Manley and Maria Oller and directed by Gill Robertson also premieres.

2002

Lifeboat

Lifeboat, written by Nicola McCartney, is produced by Catherine Wheels – the show tells the the extraordinary true story of two evacuees in 1940.

2001

We get an office!

Also in 2001 Catherine Wheels move into our office at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh - a place we still call home.

2001

Frankenstein

Catherine Wheels works with esteemed Scottish Playwright Tom McGrath on Frankenstein, a new adaptation of the classic tale by Mary Shelley. The show tours across Scotland.

2001

Martha tours stateside

Martha continues to tour across North America and enjoys a run at the New Victory Theatre in New York. At the North American Showcase of Children’s Theatre the show wins the Victor Award for Best Production.

2000

Red

Our second show is Red, about the bickering Snicket Twins astronauts, performed and directed by Gill Robertson. This is the first time we work with Shona Reppe who puppeteers the wonderful Red puppet dog!

2000

Our first international tour

Martha is presented at the Milk Festival Canada; our very first international tour!

1999

Catherine Wheels is born

Catherine Wheels Theatre Company is established by Gill Robertson. The company name is inspired by the Catherine Wheel firework, a song by Crowded House and Gill’s mum Catherine. Our mission then, and now, is to “produce fresh, relevant and dynamic theatre for children, young people and their family and friends.” Our first production is Martha created by Gill Robertson, Annie Wood and Andy Manley which tours to Scottish schools and theatre venues and goes on to be one of our most loved productions.