PolkaLAB Artists Announced

September 5, 2019

Polka are delighted to announce the five artists we will be working with as part of the PolkaLAB programme 2019/20. 


Artistic Director Peter Glanville says:

We were delighted to receive so many brilliant applications for this year’s PolkaLAB scheme. The standard was very high, but we are very happy to announce the following as our PolkaLAB artists for 2019-20…


Read on to find out more about the artists and their exciting new works:


Subathra Subramaniam

Suba will be developing a playful, interactive dance piece exploring the theme of plastics. It will explore why we use plastics and how they are made. 

Suba is a multi-disciplinary artist, driven by the confluence of arts and science. Suba’s work with her company Sadhana Dance results from extended periods of research with scientists, doctors and others in academia and beyond. Presenting work across the UK and internationally both in theatres and outdoors, she is known for her collaborations across art forms. Her practice combines contemporary choreography and the classical Indian dance form of Bharata Natyam to create visually engaging works that open up spaces for conversation. She has worked with The Place, The V&A, Royal Festival Hall and most recently with the Science Museum exploring STEM education. Her current touring work Unkindest Cut, which explores issues around young people and mental health, is set in two shipping containers and toured science festivals across the UK. She regularly collaborates with the artists Kathy Hinde, Matt Olden, Aideen Malone and Brian Hartley. 


Suba says…

“I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be one of the next PolkaLAB artists and to be associated with one of the country’s leading children’s theatres.  I am really excited at the prospect of researching and developing my new work for families about Plastics with the support, mentoring and expertise that Polka has in abundance.  The support from Polka at this very early stage of research will be invaluable and important for me as an artist taking my first steps into the world of family theatre.”


Two Tonne Theatre

Two Tonne will be developing a beat box musical for children aged 3-5, that will explore similarity and difference in the context of racism and multiculturalism in Britain.

Two Tonne is a Northern based theatre company led by Artistic Director Iain Bloomfield, creating contemporary work that is poignant, political and ethical. All work is created in collaboration with other artists with a range of specialisms, and seeks to promote both access and equity. This project will be a collaboration between Iain Bloomfield, Pauline Mayers and Andy Brooks. Andy is an MC, beatboxer, musician, playwright and theatre-maker; Pauline, a writer, theatre-maker, choreographer and facilitator; Iain, a writer, director, dramaturg and mentor.

Two Tonne say…

“Collectively and individually we are delighted to have been offered a place on the PolkaLAB programme for 2019-2020. Multi-stranded R&D support opportunities that celebrate the iterative nature of developing new work and explore the ways that that work can find its voice and its audience in tandem are few and far between. That this is run by an organisation with such a history in making work for children feels particularly joyous and important in 2019.

We are excited about the opportunity to make a piece of work in collaboration with Polka Theatre and work with them to create a process that includes children as co-authors. As artists (and a venue) we have different career paths, art form histories, lived experiences – as will every single child we engage with throughout the process.”


Nikki Charlesworth

Nikki will be developing a semi-autobiographical puppet piece called What Happened to You?, exploring her experiences living with Cerebral Palsy and the wider experience of those living with disabilities in the UK today.

Nikki Charlesworth is a recent graduate of Theatre Design from Nottingham Trent University, where she specialised in Puppetry. Since graduating Nikki has worked as a Theatre Designer, Puppeteer and Puppet Maker. Her assistant design credits include: the UK tour of The Who’s Tommy (New Wolsey in association with Ramps on the Moon) and the UK tour of Reasons to be Cheerful (Graeae Theatre Company). Her design credits include: National and International tour of Maklena by Night Train Theatre Company; The Luckiest Girl Alive, a self-directed puppet show performed at Nottingham Puppet Festival; Puppet designer and puppeteer for the regional tour of Splash! by Extraordinary Bodies Circus company, an outdoor children’s show joining circus and puppetry.

Nikki says…

“I am so excited to receive this opportunity from Polka Theatre, to develop my  puppet show as a piece of Children’s theatre and bring to life my – and many other peoples’ – childhood experiences of having and growing up with a disability. With the support of Polka Theatre, I hope to bring a story that will broaden the disabled-centred narratives that are currently in Children’s Theatre, and to bring a new, positive, perspective on life with a disability which is never seen in theatre, presented in the fun and playful medium that is puppetry.”



Find out more about PolkaLAB here.