Director Peter Glanville on Under the Rainbow

April 27, 2017

We spoke to Director Peter Glanville about the inspiration and message behind Polka’s new show Under the Rainbow

What was the inspiration behind Under the Rainbow?

The play was partly inspired by the experiences of refugees around the world. The challenging and difficult journeys made, seeking a safe haven. I wanted to find a way of dramatising these events within ‘safe’ parameters for younger children. Not to focus on the horrors, but to explore the courage and resilience of those making the journey. I was also initially inspired by an exhibition of work I saw in Germany by an artist called Otto Piene. He created a giant rainbow for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. Coined ‘Sky Art’, the giant inflatable rainbow towered above a lake, and was a symbol of hope for post war Germany. This symbolic image of the rainbow informed the direction of the piece and its title, which, of course, is also a play on Dorothy’s hope in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ singing ‘Over the Rainbow’.


What was the development process for making the piece?

We were fortunate to be supported by our European partners ‘Small Size’, when developing the play. This involved various sharings of early developmental work in Hamm and Bucharest, with dramaturgical feedback which informed the process. Following this research, we presented a sharing of the work to audiences at the Wilderness Festival last summer, where Polka curated a range of work in a large tent. We also shared the work with local schoolchildren at Polka, and brought an educational psychologist into rehearsal to ensure the work would resonate with a younger audience. At each stage of the process, and largely as a result of children’s feedback, the form and content of the play developed. Throughout, I worked closely with Julian Butler as composer, and Verity Quinn as designer, so it became a genuinely collaborative and organic process.


Is there a message that can be taken away from the piece?

Perhaps the strongest message is that our resilience and imagination can move us forward, and that we must never give up. Also, that friendship can be a source of strength. The woman in our play overcomes adversity to create a home, she then overcomes a storm to make a boat and travels to a new land to create a better home. The subject matter of the play has universality. Children will relate to new journeys, new experiences, working out solutions to problems, and the emotions that we go through along the way.


What will children enjoy about it?

The play has a beautiful transformative set, a gently evocative soundtrack, and a captivating central performance by Marleen Vermeulen, who engages the audience non-verbally throughout. Children will enjoy it as an adventure story, and in some ways it does evoke the classic transformative tales of Three Little Pigs or The Ugly Duckling, resolving itself with a happy ending.


Under the Rainbow runs in Polka’s Adventure Theatre from 4-28 May. Click here for more information and to book tickets.