Polka40 Blog: Celebrating 40 Years of Polka

June 13, 2019

We are very excited to launch our Polka40 blog, a series offering unique insight into the process behind the creation of our magical family exhibition at Morden Hall Park. Written by Polka40 volunteer, Sarah Campbell. 


Welcome to the Polka40 blog. We are here to chronicle some exciting events taking place to celebrate Polka Theatre’s 40th anniversary. The theatre itself is currently closed while building work takes place, but there’s still lots going on creatively and plenty to look forward to this summer. More on that to come!

Back in January, the theatre team put out a call for volunteers to join them in a project that would delve into the rich history of Polka and children’s theatre over the past 40 years. Following two successful open meetings, a team of 25 eager volunteers was formed, led by Heritage Project Manager Andreea Minca.

The Polka40 project is now well underway. Since March, we have been searching through the Polka archive and interviewing people from the theatre’s past, capturing the story of the theatre and its role in the local community.  All of this leads up to an immersive, interactive family exhibition that will take place at Morden Hall Park from 16th July to 2nd August 2019, before heading out on tour throughout the local area. The exhibition is being mounted in partnership with the  National Lottery Heritage Fund, with further support from Clarion Housing, and the Polka team are grateful for their support.

This is very much a collaborative project. The 25 volunteers have been divided into teams of Archive Researchers, Oral History Interviewers, Learning Officers, Curators, Content Writers, Event Assistants, Leaflet Distributors, Exhibition Invigilators and Participation Evaluators. Several of us are involved in two or even three different parts of the project. Between us we have delved into the Polka archive, got hands on with props and costumes, interviewed some key people from Polka’s history, and uncovered many wonderful facts and anecdotes that we are excited to share with you in the exhibition.

Our brief has been to create an exhibition that will inspire visitors by giving them a chance to see behind the scenes of a new Polka production: one created by them as they move through the exhibition. Specially designed activities will keep children of all ages engaged and promote intergenerational fun. Wonderful objects found in the theatre archive will also provide a platform for visitors to remember and share their own memories of Polka.

The Polka40 team is made up of volunteers from many different backgrounds with a vast range of skills. But we have one thing in common – a passion for children’s theatre and a desire to support the wonderful work done by Polka Theatre. Many of us have experienced first-hand the pleasure Polka productions bring to young audiences and it’s a privilege to be able to contribute to the anniversary celebrations in this way. We look forward to sharing with you all the treasures and stories we have uncovered both on this blog and in the exhibition.

Sarah Campbell