AS 2017 draws to a close, we look back at what has been an incredibly busy year for the Eastgate Theatre...

The year began with a celebration of the outdoors as the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival returned to serve up a weekend of adventure films, inspirational speakers (including mountain biking world champion Tracy Moseley, record-breaking fell runner Nicky Spinks, and adventure cameraman Keith Partridge) and hands-on sessions, all lapped up by more than 1,200 people.

The festival also shone the spotlight on an array of ‘local heroes’ – local adventurers of all ages.

Both the Tweeddale Society and Music in Peebles experienced full houses and Tweed Theatre, hosted a range of productions – from intimate two-handers to gritty urban dramas and special effects-laden pantomimes.

There was also an abundance of professional drama; on screen relays of productions from the National Theatre and Royal Ballet; as well as live performances on stage, featuring some of the cream of Scottish theatre.

David Hayman delighted audiences in The Cause of Thunder; Horse McDonald performed her debut play Careful; celebrated Scottish actress Sara Stewart starred in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; while writer-director David Leddy’s Horizontal Collaboration saw sex, power and politics collide in a chilling courtroom drama.

And with plays such as Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound and Near Gone, the Eastgate welcomed a range of thought-provoking new drama.

In June, the theatre hosted Magnetic North’s Rough Mix creative lab – a two-week national artists’ residency held in southern Scotland for the first time.

This year’s Rough Mix involved a core group of five experienced artists from across Scotland, plus three Borders-based early-career artists: Felicity Bristow, Sue Scowcroft and Scott Noble.

Meanwhile, the theatre saw an array of live music from near and far.

The likes of Imar, John McCusker & Heidi Talbot, plus Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham represented the best of trad and folk music, while bands such as Denmark’s Basco, Woody Pines, The Honeycutters and 3hattrio (all US); plus Canada’s, The Paperboys, sprinkled some international stardust on the Peebles stage.

The theatre’s programme of festivals continued with a busier than ever Creative Peebles Festival in August, which culminated in a 700-strong dance flashmob in Peebles High Street. Tom Swift’s film of the event proved to be popular on YouTube and social media, racking-up almost 7,000 hits.

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.

November saw two more busy festivals – the read-a-licious children’s book festival, which was 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.

And the café also benefitted 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.

Now the theatre prepares for an equally busy 2018 as fundraising will begin to carry out its development plans to increase the capacity of the building and develop an expanded suite of facilities.