It was 9 years ago that I first took my youthful steps through the doors of the Imaginate world. I was a first year student when I saw an email about opportunities to volunteer for the festival and had no hesitation in applying; it combined two of my passions, theatre and working with young people. When I first met the other volunteers I discovered I was the youngest and probably least experienced person there. That didn’t matter though, because it turned out everyone is treated the same at the festival. Never before had I been in an environment where the festival director and general manager would give as much time and interest to a lowly volunteer like me, as to a bank exec or performing company.

From that moment on the week was a whirlwind of delights; performances, socialising, meeting new people, it changed my whole perspective of what Children’s theatre could be.  That first week not only consisted of the best pieces of children’s theatre I had ever seen it consisted of the best theatre I had ever seen. From the end of the week I became an advocate for the festival, telling everyone about it and imploring them to volunteer the next year. It suddenly became clear why a lot of the volunteers already knew each other and I was definitely going to be coming back.

The next year I convinced two of my friends Alex and Ross to attend and volunteer at the festival. Another brilliant year, more new people met and they fell in love the same way I had. We would all attribute the high quality theatre and experiences we had as being key to the founding of our company, Tortoise in a Nutshell. The Imaginate team are the most open and friendly, they’ve advised us and supported us along our company development and we wouldn’t be the same without their wise words both past and present.

Over the years we have volunteered, coordinated volunteers, supervised venues, managed the festival office, coordinated the bus pack, performed at the Imaginate fringe and now the big one, performing at the Imaginate festival. This year will be my tenth Imaginate festival and I can’t tell you how thrilling and terrifying it is to be performing. When we created the company I would have put it in my top three aims, it was always something in the future, where we hoped to get to and now it’s here…well it’s pretty scary to be honest.

So there’s only one thing for it, do a good show, be open to meeting new people and maybe just maybe we can do a little inspiring ourselves.

The Lost Things opens at the Imaginate Festival on the 12th May 2015. Booking details can be found via the Traverse Theatre’s Box Office.