Q&A: Peter Glanville
Q&A: Peter Glanville
Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Polka Theatre, Wimbledon
Can you tell us a little bit about you? What attracted you to creating work for children?
I have been adapting and directing Theatre for Children for over 30 years. Initially with my own company Kazzum and then, prior to joining Polka as Artistic Director seven years ago, as Artistic Director at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, the Home of British Puppetry. I believe strongly that Theatre and Drama are powerful ways of helping children to explore their emotions, perceptions and relationships. Not only supporting them to discover who they are, but also building empathy and understanding about others, and helping them to make sense of this extraordinary world.
Can you tell us a little bit about Polka?
For 41 years Polka Theatre has been creating world-class Theatre and Creative Learning activities from its home in Wimbledon, to audiences of up to 100,000 per year. Productions range from classic book adaptations such as The Borrowers or Wind in The Willows to new plays such as Child of the Divide about the partition of India, or To Dream Again, a reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Polka creates work for children between 0-12 years and specialises in creating Early Years productions which have toured the world. In recent years these have included HATCH, a co-production with Royal Opera House and Shake, Rattle and Roll, created with neuroscientists from Birkbeck Babylab.
Our work is accessible to every child, with schools attending during the week and family audiences at weekends and holidays. We offer Relaxed, Audio-Described and BSL performances of our work.
What does Polka do in addition to presenting plays?
Polka runs a wide ranging programme of work in school and community settings as well as a range of participative workshops at our theatre. These range from our After Schools Clubs to our Take Part workshop programme for all ages. Do take a look at our website for details !! More recently, we have established our inter-generational Re:Sound Community Choir.
How can theatre, and Polka in particular, support children during the Covid pandemic?
We have continued to provide creative activities for children and families throughout this pandemic, which has been an incredibly difficult and stressful time for many children. Our focus has been on encouraging children’s active engagement with a range of online activities, from storytelling to participative workshops which stimulate creative play through drama, music, puppetry and dance. We have also worked more directly with a number of groups to help children understand and express the thoughts and emotions they are experiencing. This has ranged from our Freefalling Group, for children facing challenging circumstances, to our Write Here, Write Now Literacy support programme with schools. We are now also creating a number of free films to support children’s Well Being.
What are your aspirations for Polka once it reopens following the redevelopment?
We want Polka to continue to be a Wonderland for children, their families and carers. A place for all the community to enjoy. A place for Merton to be proud of. A place where you can pop in and see a show or enjoy playing in our free indoor and outdoor spaces such as the Play Den and the Sensory Garden. We have so many new facilities for our audiences to enjoy including a new Adventure Theatre, a Café, a Shop and much improved accessibility throughout. We are also a place for theatre makers to create the best work in the world for children, and can’t wait to invite them to our new rehearsal and community space The Nest. We look forward to re-opening later this year, after our £8m redevelopment, and can’t wait to welcome you.
240 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1SB
020 8545 8320, polkatheatre.com