Polka Theatre Launches Reopening Season

New productions and free activities begin this August

Polka Theatre has had a major makeover
Polka Theatre has had a major makeover

June 15, 2021

The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon has announced its programme for the planned relaunch after being closed for two and a half years.

There will be a series of new productions and free activities for children aged 0-12 from 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 will be something for everyone.

Polka’s Artistic Director Peter Glanville said, “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.”

The completely revitalised venue will provide more 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

The theatre says 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 running between Saturday 25 September and Sunday 31 October. Directed by Hannah Quigley with set and costume designs by the award-winning Rachana Jadhav. Audiences will journey around the new building, across forests and bogs, on a mission to restore peace to a land overtaken by wolves. Tickets start at £19.50 and the performances are suitable for ages 6+.

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), written and directed by Sarah Punshon with music and lyrics by the award-winning Felix Hagan, and co-created with Toni-Dee Paul, it promises to be a refreshingly modern take on a beloved story suitable for everybody aged 5 or over. It runs from Friday 12 November 2021 to Sunday 30 January 2022 with tickets starting at £10

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, with designs by Kate Bunce and original music from Julian Butler, this co-production with Northampton’s Royal & Derngate theatre is a sprinkling of seasonal magic packed full of surprises. It will be first production in Polka’s new Adventure Theatre running from Saturday 4 December 2021 to Sunday 16 January 2022. Tickets cost £16.

Polka Theatre will reopen to the public from Monday 16 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 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.

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