The Polar Bears are Ivor MacAskill and Fiona Manson, with their producer, Sarah Gray. Since 2010, Little Polar Bear and Big Polar Bear have been charming and entertaining young children and their adults around the world with their fun adventures. Silent wanderers led by their sense of curiosity and their stomachs, each Polar Bear production is a non-verbal, visually entertaining journey for under 5s and their adults.
The Polar Bears first came to life in May 2010 as a commission for the very first Family Days for the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (then known as Imaginate Festival). With fur coats, bobble hats, rucksacks and maps, the two slightly confused and lost bears interacted with children in the Traverse foyer, entertaining audiences between shows. Over the next few years the characters developed through walkabout performances at family events, festivals, a fun run, and even a Geography Association Dinner in Guildford… In the early years we were supported by Imaginate, Platform and Macrobert Arts Centre who produced our first full-length, sit-down show, The Polar Bears Go Wild! in 2013. Go Wild! toured nurseries and theatres in 2013-15 including dates and runs at Traverse Theatre and Take Off! Festival.
In 2016 came The Polar Bears Go Up! – a co-production between Polar Bears and Unicorn – London’s great theatre dedicated to performance work for children and young people. It was originally supported by Creative Scotland, was part of the Made In Scotland showcase in 2017 and has gone onto tour internationally: It has been taken on by China’s A.S.K. – Arts Space For Kids – with runs in Shanghai, Beijing and Zhengzhou with more planned for 2020. It’s visited North America four times, firstly as people’s favourite runners up at the IPAY showcase in 2018 before visiting venues in Ontario, Nashville, Buffalo, Vancouver International Children’s Festival, as well as the prestigious Lincoln Center, New York. It’s been seen by audiences in Hong Kong at the city’s Cultural Centre, and the furthest from home was the presentation at the Awesome Festival in Perth, Australia (although they’ve also done a Christmas run in #Perthfect Perth, Scotland!)
The latest stage show, the biggest and brightest yet, is The Polar Bears Go, Go, Go! co-produced again by Unicorn, which premiered in April 2019. This is supported by Creative Scotland’s touring fund to visit venues in Scotland in Summer 2020.
Reviews of THE POLAR BEARS GO WILD – 2013-15
“It’s an almost meditative experience, watching these two beaming polar bears on their sedate but playful adventure…Eventually it feels as if the whole audience is reacting spontaneously and in sync…The sunshine spills out into the audience and, while the rain pours down outside, we happily bask in the warm glow of the theatre.” Miriam Gillinson, The Guardian
“A truly entertaining delight… they are in serious danger of replacing Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas as the nation’s favourite bears.” Alan Chadwick, STV
“With a tremendous understanding of comic timing, the duo charm us into going on a journey where rhythms and sonorities, percussion and sound effects are as much a part of the landscape as the deceptively simple set…No wonder bear hugs are in demand afterwards.” Mary Brennan, The Herald