It had been 951 days since a performance took place at Polka. Polka’s brand new production RED, the first in our re-developed building, had its opening performance on 25 September. This Saturday we’re celebrating the first week of this brilliant show’s run.
Directed by Hannah Quigley (Marvin’s Binoculars, Schools Tour/Unicorn Theatre), the production is a thrilling mix of visual and physical storytelling, seamlessly integrating Sign Language into the performance. Audiences will get a chance to see different parts of the new building for the first time, including Polka’s brand new interactive sensory space, journeying across overgrown forests and perilous bogs on a mission to restore peace to a land overtaken by wolves.
Polka are excited to be working with a creative team made up of Deaf, Disabled and non-Disabled creatives. RED‘s wonderful cast is made up of Zoë McWhinney (The Two Fridas, Chickenshed/ Handprint Theatre, V&A) in the titular role, along with Ciaran O’Brien (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, NYMT; The Story of Guts, Bristol Old Vic) as Alpha Wolf, and Bea Webster (The Winter’s Tale, RSC; Holding/Holding On, National Theatre of Scotland) as The Woodcutter.
Set in a harrowing world where the wolves have seized control from Queen Sukotai, Alpha Wolf sits on the throne. Only RED can end the conflict and bring harmony to the land however, they are nowhere to be found. The audience, along with The Woodcutter, must venture across swamps and explore the mystical surroundings, on the quest to locate RED, while avoiding the dangerous sleeping wolves.
RED is based on a story developed by Stephen Collins, Peter Glanville and Hannah Quigley. The production will feature set and costume designs by the award-winning Rachana Jadhav (Claire Cunningham’s Menage a Trois) and Associate Designer Ben Glover (Medea, Cockpit Theatre), with lighting by Offie-nominated Peter Small (Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe), and Sound Designer and Composer Adrienne Quartley (Augmented, Told By An Idiot). The creative team also includes the experienced actor, visual vernacular and movement director Brian Duffy (The Process, The Bunker; Troilus and Cressida, RSC) as Associate Director and BSL Consultant.
Polka’s Artistic Director Peter Glanville comments, Following on from our £8.5m Future Polka capital redevelopment campaign, I am thrilled we are launching our first season at Polka with RED. This exciting production takes the audience on an unforgettable journey across woods, swampland and a palace, and is a wonderful chance for audiences to discover the newly redeveloped Polka, as a small audience moves around different parts of the building. This imaginative visual production is performed using Sign Language as the primary language, and we’re thrilled to be working with this talented creative team.
Director Hannah Quigley adds, We hope that RED will take audiences on a journey – both emotionally and physically. As a disabled, Queer theatre director and filmmaker I have often focused on projects and productions that explore the joy of working with and telling stories celebrating these perspectives. The cast and creative team is simply amazing and working with them is definitely a highlight. To have a show that brings young people and families back into the theatre in these times feels both important and exciting.
Zoe McWhinney who portrays RED hopes that, “People leave RED feeling more confident around gesturing and visual communication!Listen with your eyes. It’s such a phenomenal experience… There really aren’t any limits to what
you could say in signs. Sound-based speech isn’t the only way for humans to share our stories,
problems and ideas.
You can book your tickets now for RED, running until 31 Oct