Polka Theatre Announces Programming For Brand-new Early Years Theatre Festival Big Dreams

Polka Theatre Announces Programming For Brand-new Early Years Theatre Festival Big Dreams

Artistic Director of Polka Theatre Peter Glanville today announces the company’s first BIG DREAMS Early Years Festival running from 24 – 28 August. It is a festival curated by Polka Theatre which showcases and celebrates Early Years Theatre by leading UK and International companies. The Festival includes inspiring shows for children and fascinating talks and workshops for artists and industry professionals.

This inaugural festival is also part of Mapping, a Creative Europe funded programme which explores the aesthetics of performing arts for Early Years.

BIG DREAMS has an exciting programme of events, including two productions from international theatre companies, Branar and Theater Tre from Ireland and Sweden respectively. Alongside 5 productions for Early Years audiences, there is also an opportunity for students, peers and industry professionals to network and build on new skills in the varied programme of workshops and talks. These include a live interview with award-winning freelance artist and dramaturg, Sarah Argent, an insightful look into creating accessible working environments with Second Hand Dance, and a clowning workshop with Branar’s Miquel Barcelo.

Peter Glanville said today, ‘We are delighted to be presenting our inaugural BIG DREAMS Early Years Theatre Festival, a celebration of work by some of best International and UK Theatre companies and artists in this field. We hope that BIG DREAMS will not only be a source of enjoyment for our young audiences, but also provide a professional development platform for artists, students, peers and researchers to explore the parameters and possibilities of Early Years Theatre’

Polka Theatre Presents

Ready, Steady, GO!

Created by Peter Glanville

Adventure Theatre

Wednesday 10 – Thursday 25 Aug, 10am & 1.30pm. (10am only on Thu 25 Aug)

Ages: 3-6 Years

Back for a pre-festival run following its successful Polka premiere in Jan ’22 and a European Tour. When Sofia discovers a mountain bike in the boarded-up shed at the bottom of her garden, she doesn’t realise the thrilling adventures that await her. Join Sofia and her Mum as they travel across mountains and lakes, through day and night, in a race like no other. Created by Polka’s Artistic Director, this is a gentle show for younger children which introduces different natural environments and explores the bond between a mother and her young daughter.

Are you ready? Are you steady? Then let’s GO!

Second Hand Dance presents

We Touch, We Play, We Dance

The Nest

Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 August

10:30am and 2pm

We Touch, We Play, We Dance is a celebratory dance performance for 0-3 year olds. It’s a warm hearted and playful show filled with surprises and joy, where you and your child can listen and watch or let loose and join in. It includes four dancers who interact with the babies and children, encouraging them to move around and dance, in this warm and playful experience. With music mixed live by a DJ, the dancers respond to the children, guiding them through a series of exchanges and encounters, with high fives, hugs and dancing. Created by Second Hand Dance We Touch, We Play, We Dance is a mesmerising, engaging and fun performance for children under 3. It’s a show filled with surprises and joys where you and your child can listen and watch or let loose and join in, either way, you’ll have a wonderful time.

South East Dance presents

Club Origami

Adventure Theatre

Commissioned by: Little Big Dance

Choreographer: Takeshi Matsumoto

Friday 26 – Saturday 27 August’11:30am and 2:30pm

Ages: 0-5 years

Rip, fold and scrumple! Shall we see what we can make with a single square of paper?

As you scrunch the paper, see how your imagination begins to dance… Dive into the magical world of Club Origami, an immersive and interactive dance show inviting family audiences to create, imagine and explore whole new ways of thinking, playing and moving.

Dance, fashion and live music meet the magic of origami to sweep us up on a spirited and inspiring adventure in a land made purely of paper and play.

Branar presents


Performed by: Miquel Barceló and Moisés Mas García

Main Theatre

Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 August

10:45am and 2:15pm

Ages: 4+

Where can you go when there’s nowhere to go? In the little bike shop at the end of town, a world of adventure awaits. Two boys and their bikes travel the world in a show that conjures play from the everyday and where anything is possible. Created by Branar Téatar do Pháistí and performed by Miquel Barceló and Moisés Mas García, this joyful production celebrates the places your imagination can take you.

Rothar is produced in association with Drama NUI Galway and Baboró International Arts Festival for Children as part of Creative Europe’s Mapping Project.

Rother is a nonverbal show.

Theatre Tre presents


The Nest

Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 August

10:00am and 1:30pm

Ages: 1-3 Years

A dream play for our youngest audience – does a little One Dream of warm water, endlessly surrounded and safe? Or is it a sound in the dark, a gentle rustle of unknown tunes that mesmerises and gets you rocking? The body with arms and legs that sometimes live their own lives or the warmth of a friend who tickles and plays? A room that transforms, it grows big and then small again. We create a dream play and invite the youngest audience and their adults to a fantasy world inspired of dreams.

Page One presents

Making Theatre for Early Years with Page One

With Chloe Stephens

Clore Learning Studio

Friday 26th August 2022


Run by Chloe Stephens, Artistic Director of Page One Theatre. Drawing on Michael Chekhov’s imaginative approach to actor training and theatre making, this workshop will explore ways to engage with an early year’s audience in an immediate and genuine way. You will discover some of the techniques Chloe uses in her own work when devising visual theatre for early years.

Branar presents

Clown for Young Audiences

with Miquel Barcelo

Friday 26 August


Clore Learning Studio

Branar’s Miquel Barcelo will lead a workshop in clown in theatre for young audiences for performers and theatre makers.

Miquel is a performer, director, musician and is regular collaborator with Branar. He has been involved in the creation of 8 shows with the company over the past 15 years.

Second Hand Dance present

Long Table

Touch, interaction, and consent within work for early years

Clore Learning Studio

Friday 26 August


Established in 2013, disabled-led Second Hand Dance create beautiful, sensory dance experiences – both live and digital, that are accessible and welcoming to all bodies, working locally, nationally and internationally from their base in Surrey. The company’s way of working is centred on co-creation and collaboration with audiences and artists from many disciplines, with the vision of creating a world where dance, empathy, play and exploratory movement are central to the lives of children and adults.

Small Plays for Small People

With: Sarah Argent and Kevin Lewis

Clore Learning Studio

Saturday 27 August


In this practical workshop, internationally acclaimed theatre-makers Sarah Argent and Kevin Lewis will share aspects of their process of making small plays for audiences of small people (from 6-month-old babies upwards).

Aiming to be comic, poetic, surreal and moving explorations of the world of childhood, sometimes using verbatim the words of young children, their work has regularly drawn comparisons with Beckett, Chekhov and Pinter.

Second Hand Dance presents

Focus on Second Hand Dance: Dance, digital and disability

Clore Learning Studio

Saturday 27 August


Pre pandemic the rise in ‘No Touch’ policies being used in schools and nurseries inspired Second Hand Dance to start making We Touch, We Play, We Dance – performed in The Nest, 24 and 25 August, a show that places movement, touch and consent at the heart of an interaction between adults and children.

But where do we stand now? What do we lose when touch is withdrawn? What impact has the global pandemic had on how we make work and the type of work we make for young audiences? Can touch help us to heal? Second Hand Dance invite you to bring all your senses, to eat, listen, move, touch and discuss.

Mapping Panel Discussion

Saturday 27 August


Clore Learning Studio

Mapping is an artistic research project funded by Creative Europe, which focusses on creating a sensory-based relationship for 0-6’s through the performing arts. . In particular it explores the idea of ‘children-spectators of today , not only of tomorrow’ . During this discussion we will hear from artists from 3 of the participating companies : Teater Tre (Sweden) , Branar (Ireland) and Polka Theatre (England) about their involvement in Mapping and the processes of researching and creating their work.

Sarah Argent Profile

Interviewer: Jeremy Harrison

Sunday 28 August


Clore Learning Studio

An interview with Sarah Argent, Theatre Maker, about her work, specialising in the arts for the very young. She has been commissioned to create and direct productions for theatre companies across the UK, Ireland and beyond, including Polka Theatre, The National Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Derby Theatre, and Theatre Hullabaloo (England), Welsh National Opera, Sherman Theatre, Theatr Clwyd (Wales), Haya Cultural Centre, (Amman, Jordan), Barnstorm Theatre (Kilkenny, Ireland) and Companyia Frec a Frec (Barcelona). She is an Associate Artist of Cardiff-based Theatre Iolo, for whom, between 2001 and 2018, she developed many projects, including all the company’s work for the under-fives.