Newly appointed Polka Theatre Artistic Director sets out her artistic vision and announces 2023 Christmas offering18th April 2023
Helen Matravers announces The Snow Queen – the first commission of her tenure – as she lays out plans to ensure the theatre is accessible, inspiring and empowering for all young people.
Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Polka Theatre, Helen Matravers, is pleased to announce details of their 2023 Christmas offering: The Snow Queen will run from 11 November – 21 January in the Main Theatre for ages 6-12, alongside The Night Before Christmas for children aged 2-6, playing in the Adventure Theatre from 18 November – 14 January, returning to Polka after a highly successful run in 2021.
Helen Matravers was appointed Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Polka Theatre in January 2023, after previously working as the venue’s Senior Producer, and with previous roles at LAMDA, New Diorama Theatre, The Lyric Hammersmith and Theatre503.
The Snow Queen is the first commission of her tenure, and she has commissioned writer Jude Christian (‘Hamlet’, ‘Dick Whittington’, National Theatre, ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’, Lyric Hammersmith) to take on the project.
Speaking about the production Helen said,
“It is incredibly exciting for Polka to be teaming up with Jude to create this ambitious and magical piece of theatre. The themes of The Snow Queen feel so poignant for this moment in time, with reflections on exploring the unknown and sometimes feeling a little lost, but celebrating the ultimate triumph of friendship and love. Jude’s ability to pair the hilarious with really fresh, contemporary and accessible adaptation is perfect for this Main Theatre show and family audiences, and I am beyond thrilled that it is my first commission as Artistic Director at Polka, we’re in for a brilliant Christmas.”
Tickets are on sale now here or call 020 8543 4888*
Matravers’ artistic vision sees Polka being recognised as the UK’s most ambitious and exciting children’s theatre, cementing it as the number one destination for artists who want to create work for children. This is achieved through three key objectives for the South London venue:
- To create theatre for every child.
- To be a diverse, inclusive, and empowering theatre.
- To be a home for artists who want to inspire and be inspired.
As she explains,
“My vision for Polka is for it to be a creative and inspiring home for all children and families, every one of whom should see themselves, their cultures and backgrounds, and their favourite stories on stage.
Polka is often a child’s first experience and interaction with theatre. It should be, in that moment, an incredible and unforgettable moment, that can also seek to empower. That experience should show them that theatre is accessible, inclusive, exciting and crucially, for everyone.
Our home, Merton, is an incredibly diverse borough in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Polka has a responsibility to lead the conversation around ensuring all children have access to theatre that is relevant and representative.”
It also feels more important than ever to put a spotlight on theatre and the arts for young people. We talk as a sector all the time about theatre being empowering and vital, but theatre for young audiences is so often overlooked as a beacon for ground-breaking or high-quality productions and engagement in these conversations. And we are often telling the most important stories, to the most important people.”
I want Polka’s ambitious new theatre spoken about in the same circles of creativity and quality as the major players in the UK’s theatre scene. Meaningful collaboration with artists, organisations and our community are key to achieving exceptional work and securing Polka’s future for years to come.”
Matravers will focus on investment in future generations of theatre-makers and intends to expand and develop this strand through the theatre’s PolkaLAB and Artist Development strands. Current schemes including Polka’s Curtain Up! (6,000 free tickets for school children this year) and Polka Invites schemes, Youth Theatre, Freefalling and Write Here Write Now programmes and the theatre’s Young Voices creative advisors, are testimony to the fact that Polka genuinely puts the child’s experience, interests and voice at the centre of all thinking and planning.
“My vision for Polka’s programme is work that feels contemporary, that can be challenging, impactful and playful. The values placed in the writing, the design, the performance and the messaging should be no different to any other production you see on main stages.
Over the years, Polka has worked with some of the biggest names in children’s literature and playwrighting, and collaborated with leading theatres across the world. Polka has inspired generations of theatre makers and lovers. I want to continue this vital work, with productions and activity that speaks to an audience of 2023.”
The Night Before Christmas returns in 2023 after a sell out run in 2021.