Polka Theatre plans summer pop-up to retell Little Red Riding Hood

Last Updated on 18 May 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

Polka Theatre will stage Maanika and the Wolf in a new pop-up venue in Wimbledon this summer

Maanika and The Wolf Polka Theatre

Polka Theatre is to open a pop-up space in south London this summer as it prepares to re-open its doors after an £8.5 million redevelopment.

It will stage a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood called Maanika and the Wolf, created and directed by Polka’s artistic director, Peter Glanville, perfect for children aged three to six.

Running from 29 July to 29 August, the show will be performed in the new pop-up space in Centre Court Shopping Centre in Wimbledon, not far from the theatre’s home.

Polka, which is dedicated to children’s theatre, temporarily closed for a major redevelopment in February 2019 and will soon reveal plans for a full reopening in the autumn. In the meantime, Polka has continued to offer activities to schools, community groups and the public and, during lockdown, has provided a range of live, recorded and downloadable activities for children.

Glanville said: “This is an exciting new venture for us, creating a pop-up theatre in the heart of the community, for our local audiences to enjoy.”

Maanika and the Wolf blends the past and the present, the real and the imagined, as a grandmother returns to her childhood bedroom recalling stories from when she was a young girl. Talking to her granddaughter over Zoom, she brings her Indian dressing-up box back to life and re-enacts her own version of Little Red Riding Hood. But why is there another wolf on the phone and why does her granddaughter Ruby keep trying to change the story?

The pop-up space transforms from Maanika’s house to the grandmother’s cottage and even into the wolf’s lair in the woods. The piece promises to bring a delightful sense of playfulness to the telling of its story with a feeling of rediscovery that all the audience can share in, enhanced by newly composed music from British-Asian musician Arun Ghosh that reflects the overall cultural fusion.

Designer Sophia Lovell Smith has used fabrics and toys to bring to life the cultural heritage of the toy box and Maanika’s parents’ Indian upbringing. Additional dramaturgical support is from Sudha Bhuchar, co-founder of Tamasha Theatre Company.


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Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.