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Polka Theatre Announces New Season For Autumn/Winter 2018

Polka Theatre Announces New Season For Autumn/Winter 2018

Artistic Director of Polka Theatre, Peter Glanville today announces their new season for Autumn/ Winter 2018 comprising both new Polka productions and visiting work as well as classes and workshops, celebrating some of the greatest living writers for children.

On the Main Stage, the season opens with Three Sat Under the Banyan Tree, the first ever stage adaptation of the Panchatantra tales in the UK. This new co-production with Tara Arts, directed by their Artistic Director Jatinder Verma, runs from 28 September to 21 October.

Across the festive season, Polka stages one of the greatest stories ever written for children, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This delightful adaptation by Toby Hulse, is brought to life with music and songs by director Roman Stefanski and runs from 9 November to 17 February 2019.

For younger children, the Adventure Theatre will be transformed into a cosy story telling hut where master storyteller Jan Blake tells the tale of In the Winter Wood. This new co-production with Apples and Snakes runs from 29 November to 17 February.

Artistic Director of Polka Theatre, Peter Glanville, said today 'We are delighted to be presenting a range of productions catering for all ages from 0-12 years, accompanied by our Take Part activities, giving children the opportunity to learn theatre skills and have lots of fun expressing their creativity. Comprising of adaptations and original work, highlights in the season include the first UK stage adaptation from Shamser Sinha of the Panchatantra Tales - Three Sat Under the Banyan Tree, Kenneth Grahame's classic The Wind in the Willows and Into the Winter Wood, devised by Jan Blake. Polka will be celebrating its 40th birthday in 2019, and we are on the cusp of our first major redevelopment, ensuring we create a future Polka which continues to inspire generations of children and families for at least another 40 years.'

For more details on the Future Polka campaign and how to donate, please see here,

Priority booking for Polka supporters opens on Tuesday 29 May at 12pm, with public booking opening Tuesday 5 June, 12pm.


A Polka Theatre and Tara Arts production


Based on The Panchatantra - India's Aesop's Fables

Written by Shamser Sinha

Directed by Jatinder Verma; Designed by Claudia Mayer

28 September - 21 October

Ages 7+

Near the foothills of the Himalayas, three orphans open a magical book under a Banyan tree. They were told the book wouldn't give them answers but they'd learn from it, they stir a pot of milk and three stories of the forest rise from its pages.

Stories of headstrong crows, old lions and devious jackals come vibrantly to life, with masks, movement and music.

Shamser Sinha is a playwright. His credits include Khadija Is 18 (Finborough Theatre / winner of Pearson Playwright Award) and The Dissidents (Tricycle Theatre). In addition, his book with Les Back - Migrant City is published in June.

Jatinder Verma directs. Artistic Director of Tara Arts, Verma has developed a unique cross-cultural theatre style - Binglish - where Asian theatre sensibilities meet European drama. Having led the company since its inception in 1977, Verma has overseen the development of Tara's new Theatre in Earlsfield, South London, as an award-winning architectural fusion of East and West. Verma was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in 2017. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the universities of York, Essex and De Montfort, Leicester as well as a Research Fellowship from Rose Bruford College and Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.


A Polka Theatre production

Kenneth Grahame's


A play with songs adapted by Toby Hulse

Directed by Roman Stefanski;

Designed by Liz Cooke; Composed by Julian Butler

9 November - 17 February

Ages 5+

When Mole abandons spring cleaning for the delights of the riverbank, he has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead. With Toad's obsession for all things fast causing chaos (poop, poop!), it falls upon his friends Ratty, Mole and wise old Badger to save him. But that means coming face to face with the ferrets and weasels of the Wild Wood...

In this delightful adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic story of friendship and bravery, this winter warmer will take you on a journey through the seasons. A wonderfully funny tale brought to life with music, songs and the usual Polka magic!

Toby Hulse is a playwright and theatre director from Bristol, who specialises in work for young and family audiences. He returns to Polka Theatre following To Dream Again. Other credits include The Jungle Book (Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham), Bed Time (Oxford Playhouse), War Game (Bristol Old Vic), Incredible Journeys (Story Museum, Oxford) and Northanger Abbey (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School). He is currently writing a new Sherlock Holmes play, Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles for Chipping Norton Theatre, and is developing Blocks for Oxford Playhouse, an improvised piece for Deaf audiences. In addition, Hulse teaches Improvisation, Clown and Performing for a Younger Audience at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Roman Stefanski has consistently worked with Polka Theatre (over 70 productions) nurturing his skills with puppetry and now shares his skills as a consultant to various theatre companies including Watershed productions, Birmingham Stage Company, Mid Wales Opera, Pied Piper Productions, Thousand Cranes Co and All Aboard Productions; and as a tutor to drama colleges (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, RADA, ALRA, East15, University of Hawaii). As a performer Stefanski has appeared on stage, TV and film including working with the Jim Henson Company. He also worked with the political satire TV company Spitting Image. He currently has another show on tour Sarah & Duck which over the years have been travelling around Britain, and Gorilla which is now playing in Istanbul.


A Polka Theatre and Apples and Snakes production


Devised by Jan Blake

Designed by Matthew Edwards

29 November - 17 February

Ages 3-6

Come and snuggle down in our Adventure Theatre for a tales full of bravery and friendships. When Pig and Goat discover they're being fattened up for a winter feast, they decide to run away to find a little house in the winter woods, where they can live happily together. Along their journey they meet Goose, Hare and Cockerel, who offer their special skills to help build their new home.

Devised by Jan Blake. As one of the leading storytellers, Blake has been performing worldwide for over twenty-five years. Specialising in stories from Africa, the Caribbean, and Arabia, she has a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling. Recent highlights include Hay Festival, where she was storyteller in-residence, the Viljandi Harvest Festival in Estonia and TEDx Warsaw.

As well as performing at all the major storytelling festivals both nationally and internationally, she works regularly with the British Council, leads storytelling workshops for emerging storytellers, and gives masterclasses for teachers, brands, and businesses. In 2011, she was the recipient of the biannual Thüringer Märchen Preis, awarded to scholars or performers who have devoted their lives to the service of storytelling. In 2013, The Old Woman, The Buffalo, and The Lion of Manding created and performed with musicians Kouame and Raymond Sereba toured to acclaim winning a British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE).


A Polka Theatre production


Devised by Peter Glanville with Marleen Vermeulen

Designed by Verity Quinn; Composed by Julian Butler;

24 October - 3 November

Ages 3-6

Returning to Polka this autumn, Under the Rainbow's evocative music, puppetry and a beautiful transformative set, gently tells the story of one woman's courageous journey. As she crosses land and sea, she befriends a turtle and a colourful bird of paradise, discovering a plentiful island that gives her hope for the future.

In Polka's intimate Adventure Theatre, children will feel part of the journey, with opportunities to interact with the performer on her remarkable journey, before she builds her new home on stage.

Peter Glanville became Artistic Director of Polka Theatre in 2013 following eight years as Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Little Angel Theatre. Past productions include acclaimed productions for Polka including Chocolate Cake, Royal Opera House co-production Hatch, Moomin Summer Madness (co-directed with Dani Parr) and early years Opera Skitterbang Island. For Little Angel Theatre he directed Macbeth, The Snow Queen, Michael Rosen's The Magician's Daughter, The Tempest (RSC co-Production) and Carol Ann Duffy's The Tear Thief (narrated by Juliet Stevenson). Glanville has previously collaborated with Barb Jungr on three musicals - Fabulous Flutterbys, We're Going on a Bear Hunt and How to Hide a Lion (co-produced with Oxford Playhouse). His productions of The Tempest and The Tear Thief were both nominated for an Offie in the category - Best Production for Young People, and his Peter Pan won the award in 2015. He pioneered puppet work for adults alongside children's shows and introduced the biennial SUSPENSE London Puppetry Festival and also directed a short marionette film for the RSC's production of Matilda.

Marleen Vermeulen has worked in children's theatre since coming to London 25 years ago. She has her own company, Tam Tam Theatre, making theatre for babies and toddlers and often perform in her own shows. In recent years both Circles in the Sand and Curious have been hugely popular, in Polka Theatre's Adventure Theatre. As a director she has also worked with Little Angel Theatre in Islington on many occasions, and her directorial debut production for Little Angel, Handa's Surprise, will be coming to Polka this autumn.

Julian Butler has written music and lyrics for many Polka shows, including The Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, Under the Rainbow, Gorilla, Shake, Rattle and Roll and the Charlie and Lola live shows. He has written several musicals with Mike Kenny, including Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast. Other recent shows include Burglar Bill (Pied Piper Theatre Company), The Night Pirates (Rose Theatre, Kingston/Nick Brooke Ltd), Touched (Nottingham Playhouse), The Paper Dolls (Polka Theatre/Little Angel), Me and My Cat? (A Thousand Cranes/Bermuda Festival), Just so Stories (Stephen Joseph Theatre), Leaf (Tam Tam Theatre) and Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave (GaGa Theatre).


A Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company production


Directed by Niki McCretton

Performed by Chloe Mantripp and Duncan Taylor

Puppetry by Holly Miller; Designed & Set Built by James Lewis, Tin Shed Scenery

24 - 28 October

Ages 3+

Imagine being born in an oven and the first person you meet wants to dunk you in his tea! Up and down and into town, our Gingerbread Man must use his wits to escape anyone who finds him tasty. Is he faster than a Goose? Can he cross a river using a Fox as a raft? Are Gingerbread Men allowed on trains?

Come and see the adventure of the deliciously smelling Gingerbread Man and meet the bravest biscuit of all times! Stuff and Nonsense apply their usual brilliance with a mix of puppetry, live action, great music, humour and a stunning staging of this well-loved classic tale.


Polka welcomes the best shows for early years from around the UK and Europe.

Page One Theatre presents


29 - 30 September

Ages 3-6

Come and explore an ecosystem of balloons: universes in miniature. Rise and Fall is a poetic and intriguing performance for young audiences about holding on and letting go.

Filskit Theatre presents


4 - 7 October

Ages 6 - 18 months

Blink. Blink again. What do you see?

Day by day your world is filling up with colour, little one. Reds and blues, yellows and greens. Twinkling lights that glisten and gleam. Inspired by research into how a baby's sense of sight develops and how they instinctively begin to categorise colour, watch as your baby enters the multicoloured world of Kaleidoscope.

Baby Panda presents


12 - 14 October

Ages 2 - 6

Join Zoo Keeper Sue and mischievous Little Monkey, and discover numbers are all around us. Packed with bold, engaging puppets and a musical mash-up, the makers of Dogs Don't Do Ballet (Little Angel Theatre) bring the universally popular song to life. Learn to love counting during a riot of music, numbers and clowning.

Garlic Theatre presents


19 - 21 October

Ages 3 - 7

'Let me in little piggie it's blowing a gale Not by the hairs on my little pink tail'

A brand-new version of the classic story of the three little pigs set in Paris. A grumpy old wolf is a chef who wants some pigs' tails for his soup. Will the little pigs outwit the wolf and what kind of house will they build? A funny, warm-hearted and interactive rustic tale to make you squeal with laughter, bristling with puppets, live music and lots of joining in.

Garlic Theatre entertain the whole family with beautifully crafted puppets, music and a garlicky French twist to the tale.

Hurly Burly Co. presents


4 November

Ages 0 - 2

Over the Moon weaves together gentle classical music with familiar nursery rhymes and games in an interactive musical adventure for babies.

Come along for musical tickling, stretching, chomping and stamping journeying together through the day: waking, eating, playing and sleeping. With music by Debussy, Ravel, Humperdink and Monteverdi alongside folk songs, nursery rhymes and music composed by the company.

Norwich Puppet Theatre and Rene Baker Puppetry presents


10 - 11 November

Ages 4+

The Frog and The Princess is a poignant re-telling of The Brothers Grimm tale that will entertain and delight family audiences. This exquisitely manipulated and humorous puppetry performance explores the meeting of cultures and what happens when a Princess deems a Frog unworthy of being her friend, just because of what he is. As the Frog and the Princess undergo an emotional journey from rejection to friendship they discover that deep down they are not so very different after all.

Theatre of Widdershins presents


16 - 18 November

Ages 4+

Snow White and Rose Red - sisters, twins, bestfriends - have lived in the forest since they were Babes in the Wood. Not as worldly wise as their Mother would have liked, they are nonetheless, kind, caring and sometimes a little over enthusiastic in their deeds! When their quiet life is interrupted by a friendly bear a new chapter begins.

All questions will be untangled in this new show from the Woods of Widdershins, using puppets, storytelling, original music and a fantastical fairytale forest.

In addition, Polka Theatre is offering a number of workshops alongside performances including Storming Stomp! (Ages 6 - 9), Spooky Shadow Puppet Show! (Ages 8 - 14) and Autumn Stories (Ages 6 months - 5 yrs) in October Half Term and Trouble on the River Bank! (Ages 9 - 14), Mask Fun with Ratty, Toad and Badger! (Ages 6 - 8) and Winter Tales! (Ages 6 months - 5 yrs) in the Christmas holidays.

Tara Arts was founded in Wandsworth, as part of the Asian Civil Liberties movement that emerged following the racist murder of young Gurdip Singh Chaggar in Southall in 1976. The theatre company's first production, Tagore's anti-war play Sacrifice, was staged at Battersea Arts Centre in 1977, with the clear mission of connecting worlds of imagination through stories old and new.

Since then, Tara has been one of the nation's driving forces in multicultural theatre under founder and Artistic Director Jatinder Verma's inspiring leadership. Over 40 years Tara has developed an outstanding track record for bringing together different artists, audiences and participants. These include collaborating with a variety of theatres, including the National Theatre on the first-ever staging of an Indian classical play, Little Clay Cart; as well as building a network of relationships with local schools and colleges in the UK and beyond. Since 2015 Tara Arts has also led the pioneering Black Theatre Live touring consortium of 8 theatres, committed to transforming the landscape for Black, Asian Minority Ethnic artists through a sustainable programme of national touring and audience development. The company's award-winning new Tara Theatre, in south-west London was opened in 2016 by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Apples and Snakes is the leading organisation for performance poetry. They positively encourage artists and producers to push the boundaries of what poetry and spoken word can be and amplify unheard voices. Over their 35 year history they've worked with a diverse range of artists such as Billy Bragg, Jackie Kay, Lemn Sissay, Malika Booker, Charlie Dark, Polarbear, Kate Tempest, Benjamin Zephaniah, Inua Ellams, Michael Rosen and Caleb Femi.

Stuff & Nonsense is a spirited Production Company making inspiring theatre for bold adventurers.

Led by Artistic Director Niki McCretton Stuff and Nonsense work with children, families, artists and theatres across the globe to make memorable and rewarding shows. They share the power of great imagination and are passionate about children's creativity & placing it at the heart of what they do.. Founded in 2001, the company have created eight original artist-led productions, primarily contemporary and highly marketable adaptations of well-known tales which fill a gap in the market. Since 2010 they've delivered over 1800 performances to around a quarter of a million people (43,000 alone in 2016!), across small-middle scale spaces and extended holiday performance runs. Niki McCretton is a major contributor to sector development and works vigorously to raise the quality of work for Children & Young People.

Operating for over 40 years, Polka is one of the UK's leading theatre venues for children ages 0 - 14. Over 90,000 children, along with their families and teachers, from across London and the South East visit each year to see inspiring, new theatre including plays, opera, dance, digital theatre and puppetry as well as interactive storytelling and creative learning workshops. Although firmly rooted in the local community, Polka is a National Theatre Company with productions travelling across the UK and overseas to cities as far apart as Toronto, Istanbul, Shanghai, Sydney and Hong Kong.

Polka will be celebrating its 40th birthday in 2019, and are on the cusp of its first major redevelopment, ensuring they can create a future Polka which continues to inspire generations of children and families for at least another 40 years. For more details about our exciting plans and how you can support FUTURE POLKA. Please visit

Act, dance, create, explore... at Polka we have opportunities for everyone to get involved. From holiday workshops to after-school clubs, children can step behind the scenes to create their own performances, have fun and learn new skills for ages 6 months - 14 years. For more info please visit:

During October Half Term and the Christmas Holidays, Polka are offering a range of seasonal workshops that explore areas such as drama techniques and movement to puppet and mask making. Available for ages 6 months - 14 years. For info please visit:

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