Polka Theatre’s Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive Helen Matravers and the whole team announce the premiere of a new hip-hop production of Romeo and Juliet recommended for 9 – 12+ year olds which will play at the Wimbledon venue 2 March – 14 April 2024.
Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s most famous story, will be re-told through rap, rhythms, and beautiful harmonies, in collaboration with Beats & Elements’ Conrad Murray and Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens – the makers behind ‘Frankenstein: How to make a Monster’, ‘Pied Piper the Hip Hop Family Musical’ and ‘High Rise eState of Mind’ alongside Kate Donnachie (‘Unexpected Twist’, ‘Pied Piper the Hip Hop Musical’) and Khai Shaw (‘Little Baby Jesus’, Orange Tree, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, RSC). The collective will transpose the action to South London in a 60-minute version.
Polka will also tour the show to schools in Merton and across local boroughs as part of a new pilot touring scheme, building on their commitment to offering accessible theatre to school children in the local area.
Helen Matravers said, “Ahead of announcing our wider Spring/Summer 2024 season, I am delighted to be sharing some of Polka’s upcoming productions. Cementing Polka’s commitment to staging work that is empowering, memorable, inclusive and fun, I am thrilled that Polka are creating a brand new version of Romeo and Juliet with Beats & Elements – creating a rapped, harmonised and contemporary version recommended for students age 9-12+ which will also do a small schools tour in the areas local to Polka – a pilot touring programme which we hope to expand on further in future years.
We recognise that coming to Polka to see a show is a unique and special experience for school children, but that rising costs of travelling and staffing are creating further barriers to this, and we are committed to ensure that our productions remain accessible to as many children as possible. Alongside our hugely popular and important, but increasingly over-subscribed, Curtain Up! programme of 6,000 free schools’ tickets annually, we are looking to further expand the possible avenues for schools, particularly with children at secondary-transition age, to be able to access theatre. We are hopeful that by significantly reducing costs for schools to access theatre, that more and more children benefit, gain confidence and feel empowered by the work that Polka produces.”
Other shows just announced in the Spring season include: Apples and Snakes’ interactive, hip-hop, eco block party show PLOT17 (31 Jan – 4 Feb) using spoken word, lyrics, visuals and live DJ-ing to explore taking care of the environment. You are the Sun from HurlyBurly (7 – 11 Feb) is a very first opera for babies and grownups that celebrates the magic of nature. While Krystal S Lowe’s Remarkable Rhythm (14 – 18 Feb) is a dance theatre show about two young people connecting for the very first time, navigating a way to communicate that is unique to only them – with integrated audio description throughout by the two dancers, combined with a visually clear physical storyline, this show is also accessible to both audiences who are blind or partially sighted and audiences who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. The Littlest Yak (24 – 28 Jan) tells us it’s ok to be yourself and be different, adapted by LAStheatre from the book by Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley with puppets and catchy tunes to transport us to the heart of the Himalayas.
The season is presented alongside a wide range of classes, workshops and activities at the venue from sensory play and storytelling, to crafts, and even stand-up comedy – kids of all ages can enjoy weekly classes, one off workshops, drop in and half term activities in a creative and supportive space.
Helen continues, “We are over the moon to be welcoming so many exciting and pioneering visiting companies and artists as part of this season, ensuring Polka’s audiences are able to enjoy shows created all over the UK. It’s such a wonderful, eclectic season packed with memorable pieces from so many different genres of performance for all Polka audiences and their families. We hope you take a leap with something new and bold this Spring!”
Tickets are on sale now via polkatheatre.com or call 020 8543 4888*