NEWS: Polka Theatre to re-open in August following major redevelopment

We are very excited to hear that Polka Theatre (the UK’s first theatre designed specifically for 0-12 year olds), which has been closed for major development works over the last two and a half years, is finally re-opening its doors in August with an exciting season of new productions and free activities for the whole family. 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.

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.”

Peter Glanville, Polka’s Artistic Director

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. 

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 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.  (And if you can’t wait until 16 August, you can also catch their production of Maanika and the Wolf (for ages 3 to 6) in their pop-up venue at Wimbledon Centre Court shopping centre from the end of July.)