Artists announced for PolkaLAB

June 13, 2017

We are thrilled to announce the three artists who have been selected for PolkaLAB – our supportive in-house framework for the professional development of companies or artists wanting to create innovative and ground-breaking children’s theatre.

PolkaLAB will support these artists to research new productions for children and will address significant gaps within the Theatre for Young Audiences sector, mainly identified as work led by BAME artists and work created specifically for early years audiences.

We’re delighted to welcome to Polka: Anna Newell, Jack Benjamin and Rosie Heafford.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome our first three PolkaLAB artists into the heart of our building. Each are very different, but all come with a shared passion and energy about creating and developing inspiring work for children. We can’t wait to start the process and are really intrigued to see what each might bring to their residency with us.” Zoe Robinson, Producer of PolkaLAB

Anna Newell has proposed to create a baby show with teenage performers, to explore the empathetic impact working with babies has. Newell has been making theatre adventures for people of all ages to watch and to take part in since 1989 – in theatres of all sizes, in a disused police station, in a shopping centre, on a barge, in a sonic lab, in a hydropool and in a secret apartment – in various cities in the UK and Ireland and also in the US, South Africa and Bosnia. Newell is a Tonic Theatre Award winner 2017 for ‘women who are changing the face of UK Theatre,’ she was shortlisted for the Ellen Stewart Award 2016 for theatremakers whose work with/for young people has had a major social impact.

Jack Benjamin will develop a project that celebrates and tells the stories of different migrant experiences over the last 70 years and how both the migrants and the receiving populations have responded to these changes. He wants to develop a piece with the starting point of his Grandfather’s recordings when he first moved to the UK from the Carribean. As an actor, over the last two years Benjamin has been increasingly involved in working with young children, he feels passionately about the merits and benefits that art and theatre can bring to them.

Rosie Heafford will develop a new movement-based work for early years, exploring how touch and connectedness affects babies: their bodies, minds and experiences. She is interested in exploring bodies, male and female of varying shapes, sizes, ages, cultural backgrounds and skin colours. Second Hand Dance was set-up by Rosie Heafford, a choreographer and arts manager based in Surrey.

PolkaLAB will take place between June 2017 – April 2018. We will offer rehearsal space over the year, mentoring from our Artistic Director Peter Glanville, Early Years Associate and Theatre Producer, financial support, opportunity to present work in one of the two Polka spaces, feedback from our Young Voices Panel (our group of 8-13 year olds who consult with Polka and attend rehearsals), research and development opportunities.

We’re really excited to see the work of these talented three.