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Polka Theatre Re-opens

Following a major refurbishment, Polka Theatre will re-open on 16th August with a host of free activities for everyone.

 

Polka Theatre, the UK’s first theatre designed specifically for 0-12 year olds, is re-opening its doors with an exciting season of new productions and free activities for the whole family this August. Following its two-and-a-half-year closure, Polka will once again be bringing world class family theatre and creative learning activities to London.

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. 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
  • A purpose-built, interactive sensory suite designed for use by children with sensory and special educational needs, installed in the new Clore Learning Studio.
  • Improved accessibility has also been greatly, including level access to the stage for performers and children for the first time.

To kick off Polka’s opening season, the theatre have unveiled 3 brilliant productions that will be performed in the new building from 25 September.

  • RED
    An exciting visual and physical storytelling production with British Sign Language. Journey through forests and swamplands as you help search for RED and missing Queen Sukotai. But watch out for those sleeping wolves!

    Running Sat 25 Sep – Sun 31 Oct, perfect for ages 6+.
  • Cinderella: the AWESOME truth
    Think you know the story of Cinderella? Think again. Cindy and Ella are the REAL ugly sisters and they couldn’t be more different. When they meet a fairy godmother who’s not what she seems it’s up to Ella to save her sister before the clock strikes 12. Join us for a magical topsy-turvy adventure, we’re going to have a ball!
    Running Fri 12 Nov – Sun 30 Jan, for ages 5+
  • The Night before Christmas
    Bringing Christmas Eve to life in this festive production with original music, puppets and Polka magic. Meet 6 year old Amber (who really loves reindeers), her grumpy grandad and a surprise visitor who turns Amber’s world topsy-turvy.
    Running Sat 4 Dec – Sun 16 Jan, perfect for children aged 3 – 7.

In the meantime, from 29th July, the Polka team are setting up shop in Centre Court Shopping Centre with a new pop-up theatre space. Maanika and The Wolf is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, perfect for 3-6 year olds. The pop-up production blends the past and the present, the real and the imagined, as a grandmother returns to her childhood bedroom recalling stories from when she was a young girl. Talking to her granddaughter over Zoom, she brings her Indian dressing-up box back to life and re-enacts her own version of Little Red Riding Hood. But why is there another wolf on the phone and why does her granddaughter Ruby keep trying to change the story?

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.

To find out more, visit the Polka Theatre website here.

 

Help Your Local Arts

Covid-19 and lockdown has had a significant impact on businesses, especially those within the creative industries, and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Art organisations are particularly struggling as there is limited funding sources available for them to fall back on. 

Keeping art and culture alive, is more important now than ever before, as it often aspects of these industries which help us connect with one another, lift our spirits, give us hope, celebrate creativity and diversity, and lots more.

Please consider donating to support our local arts and cultural organisations. If you can’t donate, then there are many other ways in which you can show your support including via volunteering or fundraising.

Wimbledon BookFest

Wimbledon BookFest is not-for-profit arts and education charity and depends on its supporters. Like many other arts organisations and festivals we are now deeply concerned about our future. Much of the arts industry is falling through the gaps on Government support and so they need your help. We need to raise £25k from our supporters to keep going beyond Covid-19. Donate here to help secure the future of Wimbledon Bookfest.

Polka Theatre

Polka Theatre are a registered charity who provide creative activities and support for families, teachers and vulnerable children. Now more than ever children need access to creative experiences which help them to combat loneliness, and navigate their ever changing world. Covid-19 has dealt Polka a significant blow. They need your help to continue supporting children, their teachers and families at a time when they need it most. Visit their Just Giving page here to support.

 

 

Michael McIntyre helps to raise over £30k for Polka Theatre

Michael McIntyre charms 600 Polka Theatre supporters with new material, helping to raise over £30k for Polka Theatre’s redevelopment.

Polka Patron and acclaimed comedian Omid Djalili presented a stellar line-up at the ‘Big Charity Comedy Night’, a fundraising event including Michael McIntyre, Dominic Holland, Tez Ilyas, Holly Morgan and Emma Sidi.

In the stunning Grand Hall at Battersea Arts Centre, audiences spent the evening hooting with laughter to Omid Djalili’s wild stories, hearing Dominic Holland’s pride in his ‘favourite’ Spiderman son and Holly Morgan (and her husband’s) married feminist double act with musical impressions from the world’s divas.

Polka Patron Omid Djalili MC’d the event, bringing on the evening’s headliner Michael McIntyre, who said: “It’s been brilliant supporting Polka. Good luck with the redevelopment! The audience has been fantastic and I’m glad I could help raise a significant sum for Polka.”

Peter Glanville, Polka’s Artistic Director reflected: “We have raised over £7 million to create a wonderland for children and families in the heart of Wimbledon and Merton. We are currently fundraising for the final £400k we need, so events like these are really helping us move forward with our target. Thank you to everyone for coming to the show and our amazing Patron Omid Djalili for making the Big Charity Comedy Night possible.”

The funds raised from this special, one-off comedy night were in aid of Polka’s redevelopment appeal. New planned features of the Polka Theatre will include the Adventure Theatre for 0-5’s, a free-to-all playground and interactive indoor display by set designer Laura McEwen.

 

 

About Future Polka

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019, Polka is the UK’s leading theatre for children up to the age of 12. The £7.5m redevelopment will be the first since the charity opened its doors back in 1979 and will ensure Polka remains at the forefront of children’s theatre for future generations, providing innovative, challenging and thought-provoking work for an increasingly culturally diverse young audience. The development includes a new Adventure Theatre specially designed for young children up to age 5, a new rehearsal and development studio, and a creative learning studio designed with particular reference to children with sensory needs, as well as improved access facilities.

 

Further information on Polka

Polka is one of the few theatres in the UK dedicated exclusively to children. Based in Wimbledon since 1979, Polka creates world-class theatre to entertain and inspire young audiences. Over 90,000 children visit Polka every year to experience engaging, fun and exciting theatre, often for the first time. We strive to spark the imagination, stir the emotions and fuel a sense of discovery in all children. Learning and participation is at the heart of Polka’s work, encouraging children to explore and develop creatively. We offer opportunities for all children, regardless of age, ability, culture or background, working in close partnership with schools, libraries, children’s centres, community associations and a range of other community organisations.

Polka is first and foremost a local theatre, loved by the people of Merton, South London and the wider community, but enjoys an international reputation, known throughout the world as a pioneer of theatre for children, consistently setting the standard and raising audience’s expectations.

 

Many Wimbledon-based businesses have also supported this redevelopment, yet there is still 400k needed to complete the works. Find out more and donate here.

 

Polka Theatre will be re-opening at the end of Summer 2020. For further information visit the Polka website.

 

*Photo Credit : Oscar May

Main Image (from left to right) : Peter Glanville, Michael McIntyre and Omid Djalili

Middle Image: Omar Djalili

Bottom Image (left to right) : Lynette Shanbury Polka joint CEO, Holly Morgan’s Husband, Tez Ilyas, Holly Morgan, Omid Djalili, Dominic Holland and Peter Glanville Polka CEO

What to See in Wimbledon

 

Set your sights on something new

 

The New Year signals new beginnings – a time to reflect, set goals and explore something different. From live music to theatre performances, comedy and community events, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Wimbledon Town Centre.

Look for a superb line-up of performances this season at the New Wimbledon Theatre, including the show-stopping musical On Your Feet!, Matthew Bourne’s legendary film adaptation of ‘The Red Shoes’ and Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’.  If it’s live music or comedy you’re after, head to the Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre for Jazz in a Broad Way or Comedy Round Mine.

The Polka Theatre is set to re-open late 2020 and is still running activities in Wimbledon Library and the Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre.

 

See What’s On in Wimbledon

 

Sparrow    

 

Looking for something a little more low-key? Take a wander through Wimbledon to view the new ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ art collaboration with artist Louis Masai, on Alwyne Road. This street art aims to raise awareness of the decline of British birds in London, particularly the House Sparrow, renowned for its birdsong and seen as a vital part of urban life. Watch the public reaction to the art.

Or go further afield and head out for a stroll to visit the landmarks of Secret Wimbledon or the Rainbow Crossing on The Broadway, next to New Wimbledon Theatre and CMYK bar, which celebrates the town’s inclusivity.

 

 

Events

Summer Workshops

  • Crazy Characters
    Polka’s theatre wardrobe has been closed for a while, so come and blow off the cobwebs of some of our costumes to create your very own crazy characters!
    Tuesday 24th August
    Chapter 1, 10am – 12.30pm, ages 4 – 6 years
    Chapter 2, 2pm – 4.30pm, ages 7 – 9 years
  • Polka Puppets
    Inspired by puppets used in previous Polka productions, this workshop gives participants a chance to learn new skills and explore their creativity using a range of different materials.
    Wednesday 25th August
    10am – 4pm, ages – 7 – 9 years
  • Move to the Beat
    This dance workshop, inspired by the magical music of our production of Maanika & the Wolf  is the perfect opportunity to let go, shake it all off and get everyone moving to the beat.
    Thursday 26th August
    Session 1: 10am – 12.30pm, ages 4 – 6 years
    Session 2: 2pm – 4.30pm, ages – 7 – 9 years

Young Theatre Summer School

Polka Theatre are on the search for 15 young people aged between 9 – 12 years old who are keen to join their Youth Theatre and be the very first performers in their Main Theatre following the venue’s 2-year refurbishment.  

The group will perform The Grumpiest Boy in the World by Finegan Kruckemeyer – a story that follows one unexceptional boy on the adventure of a lifetime as he sets out to stand out from the crowd. It explores the journey of each and every one of us trying to figure out what exactly it is that makes us all unique.

Dates:
Friday 23rd August – Monday 27th August
Time: 10am – 4pm
Age: 9 – 12 years

 

EXTRA rehearsals
Wednesday 1st September, 4pm – 6pm
Wednesday 8th September, 4pm – 6pm
Saturday 11th September, 10am – 5pm

 

Performance:
Sunday 12th September at 3pm

Free Storytime Sessions

Following their much-anticipated re-opening, Polka Theatre are back in their newly refurbished world-class theatre facility, with inspirational theatre and creative experiences for the young.

  • Story Time in the Polka Garden
    Monday 16th August: 2pm – 2.45pm
    Have fun getting creative in our new garden space whilst listening to stories about some creepy crawly creatures.
    For ages 2 – 5 years
  • Morning Story at Polka
    Monday 16th August: 10am – 10.30am
    Come and see our new Polka building and start the day with a lively and interactive story session in our new Creative Learning Studio.
    For ages 6 months – 3 years
  • Sensory Stories
    Thursday 19th August: 10am – 10:45pm, 2pm – 4.30pm
    Experience the magic of stories brought to life through sound, images and touch, in the new multi-sensory space!
    For ages 2-4 years (early show) and 4-7 years (afternoon show)

Maanika and the wolf

This summer, while Polka Theatre’s building gradually starts to re-open its doors after an £8.5m redevelopment, the Polka team are setting up shop in Centre Court Shopping Centre with a new pop-up theatre space. Maanika and The Wolf, created and directed by Polka’s own Artistic Director Peter Glanville, is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, perfect for 3-6 year olds.

 

Maanika and The Wolf blends the past and the present, the real and the imagined, as a grandmother returns to her childhood bedroom recalling stories from when she was a young girl. Talking to her granddaughter over Zoom, she brings her Indian dressing-up box back to life and re-enacts her own version of Little Red Riding Hood. But why is there another wolf on the phone and why does her granddaughter Ruby keep trying to change the story?

 

Tickets: £14 (£12 concessions) + £1.50 transaction fee

Performance Times:

  • Previews: Thursday 29th July & Friday 30th July, 10am & 1.30pm
  • Saturday 31st July – Sunday 29th August
    Wednesday – Friday: 10am & 1.30pm
    Weekends: 10am, 11.45am & 2.15pm

Access Performances:

  • Audio Described: 18th August, 1.30pm
  • Relaxed: 20th August, 1.30pm
  • Signed: 26th August, 1.30pm

Sponsored by HPD Lendscape.
Polka are grateful to Centre Court Shopping Centre and Romulus for their support.