News: Polka Theatre launches reopening season following major capital redevelopment

Polka Theatre, the UK’s first theatre designed specifically for 0-12 year olds, is reopening its doors with an exciting season of new productions and free activities for the whole family this August. From a perilous adventure across swamplands, to a modern take on a fairy tale and a young girl’s heart-warming adventure, there is something for everyone as Polka once again brings world class family theatre and creative learning activities to London following its two- and half-year closure.

The completely revitalised venue will provide unrivalled facilities for families and schools, including: an indoor play space in the new Y C Chan Play Den; a sensory garden; a playground with a bespoke treehouse climbing frame; a large and airy café; a dedicated rehearsal and community space called The Nest; and a purpose-built, interactive sensory suite designed for use by children with sensory and special educational needs, installed in the new Clore Learning Studio. Accessibility has also been greatly improved throughout, including level access to the stage for performers and children for the first time. The new state-of-the-art and eco-friendly building now houses two auditoriums: the flexible Adventure Theatre, which is the first purpose-built UK theatre for under 6s, and the fully refurbished Main Theatre, with new seating and decoration.

Polka’s first show to take over the redeveloped venue is RED, a visual and physical storytelling promenade adventure, performed with British Sign Language. Directed by Hannah Quigley (Marvin’s Binoculars, Schools Tour/Unicorn Theatre) with set and costume designs by the award-winning Rachana Jadhav (Claire Cunningham’s Menage a Trois) and Associate Designer Ben Glover (Medea, Cockpit Theatre), audiences will journey around the new building, across forests and bogs, on a mission to restore peace to a land overtaken by wolves.

2021 will also see two new winter productions with the world premiere of madcap musical adventure, Cinderella: the AWESOME truth, and a fantastical reimagining of the classic Christmas Eve poem The Night Before Christmas.

Created in collaboration with children and scientists, Cinderella: the AWESOME truth celebrates the power of friendship and self-worth. Co-produced with One Tenth Human (Arthur, Edinburgh Fringe First winner), written and directed by Sarah Punshon (The Box of Photographs, Polka Theatre) with music and lyrics by the award-winning Felix Hagan (Operation Mincemeat, New Diorama Theatre), and co-created with Toni-Dee Paul (Artist Associate, Selina Thompson Ltd), it promises to be a refreshingly modern take on a beloved story.

Drawing inspiration from Clement Clarke Moore’s much-loved poem, The Night Before Christmas by Olivier Award-nominee Hattie Naylor (Ivan and the Dogs) is a festive-fuelled adaptation, bringing the joy of Christmas Eve to life. Directed by Roman Stefanski (Sarah and Duck, UK and International tours), with designs by Kate Bunce (The Smartest Giant in Town, Little Angel Theatre) and original music from Julian Butler (The Snow Queen, Polka), this co-production with Northampton’s Royal & Derngate theatre is the perfect sprinkling of seasonal magic packed full of surprises. It will be first production in Polka’s new Adventure Theatre.

Polka Theatre will reopen to the public from Monday 16th August and offer a range of free activities for young children, including hands-on creativity in the newly planted Wimbledon Foundation Garden and the multi-sensory space, as well as lively and interactive story sessions. It will also host Polka’s Freefalling group, made up of children who face challenging circumstances at home or at school, a Youth Theatre summer school, and research and development sessions with Polka artists.

Continuing to pioneer children’s theatre and creative learning in the UK, Polka aims to use their new building to continue to inspire young audiences, school groups and families in and around the local community and beyond.

Polka’s Artistic Director Peter Glanville comments, The past 18 months have been particularly challenging for children and their families, so we are delighted to be able to reopen Polka, not only with a beautifully redeveloped building, but with a season of new productions designed to create memorable and inspirational experiences.

RED

Directed by Hannah Quigley, designed by Rachana Jadhav

Saturday 25 September – Sunday 31 October 2021

Tickets from £19.50 (previews £15.50)

Suitable for age 6+

The wolves have seized power from Queen Sukotai and Alpha Wolf sits on the throne. What will happen now and where is RED? We urgently need your help to find RED and end this conflict, restoring peace to the land.

Don your wellies and journey through the new building across forests and swampland on an adventure like never before… but be careful not to disturb those sleeping wolves!

Sponsored by HPD Lendscape.

Cinderella: the AWESOME truth

Book by Sarah Punshon, music and lyrics by Felix Hagan, created with Toni-Dee Paul

Friday 12 November 2021 – Sunday 30 January 2022

Tickets from £10

Suitable for age 5+

Think you know the story of Cinderella? Well, let us introduce Cindy and Ella: the REAL ugly sisters. Cindy wants to be rich, famous and is glued to her phone. Ella’s been practising her kick-boxing and just wants to have FUN.

When they meet a Prince who isn’t so charming, and a fairy godmother who’s not what she seems, Ella must save her sister from a terrible fate before midnight strikes. With help from an unusually nutty squirrel (SQUEE!), can brave Ella make it in time?

Co-produced with One Tenth Human, www.onetenthhuman.com.

The Night Before Christmas

Directed by Roman Stefanski, book by Hattie Naylor, music by Julian Butler

Saturday 4 December 2021 – Sunday 16 January 2022

Tickets from £16 (previews £12)

Suitable for age 3+

Amber is six and loves reindeers! It’s Christmas Eve but Grandad is being extremely grumpy, and Amber’s favourite snow-globe gets broken. Then her world is turned topsy turvy by a surprise visitor and Amber begins an adventure she will never forget.

Join Amber on a festive journey like no other – after all, on the night before Christmas, surprises can happen.

Co-produced with Royal and Derngate, Northampton.

To book tickets visit https://polkatheatre.com

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