Coming Up: Brain Waves Festival at Polka Theatre

One of our favourite children’s theatres, Polka, is launching a brand new and incredibly exciting festival next month. Find out more about Brain Waves below…

Brain Waves is a new festival which spans theatre, science and learning, focusing on the latest neuroscientific advances in the study of child brain development. From 21 Sep – 2 Oct Polka presents a dazzling programme of theatre productions, workshops and participatory activities for children and families, alongside talks and discussions for adults, scientists, artists and educationalists.

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Artists and neuroscientists have been working together, exploring such themes as what triggers emotional responses in teenagers; how can very early creative engagement with babies have an impact on brain development and how does a young brain respond to social interaction. Brain Waves will allow audiences of all ages to engage with science through art.

Brain Waves Festival features four ground breaking new productions, including:

  • Shake, Rattle and Roll – an intimate new Polka production for ages 6 – 18 months created by experienced early years director Sarah Argent, alongside leading neuroscientists from Birkbeck University’s world renowned Babylab. Exploring what makes babies laugh, why they like to dance and how they read body language, Argent has been inspired by the latest scientific research to create a theatrical experience that will have babies jiggling and giggling.
  • Depths of My Mind – Scarabeus Aerial Theatre combines aerial skills with visual theatre, bringing to life the latest developments in neuroimaging connected to the teenage brain. Suspended on transparent platforms, climbing Chinese poles and hiding in cocoons, the performers explore what it means to be changing, feel different, lonely and searching for somewhere to belong. This show will be performed at the Brit School in Croydon.
  • Bright Sparks – Filskit Theatre premieres a humorous and visually exciting new play for children which responds to research into how the brain’s left and right hemispheres must strike a balance and work together.
  • Animating the Brain – Theatre Rites present a work in progress sharing a research project currently in development. Working with scientists at King’s College, they have examined the parallels between methods used by neuroscientists to investigate and manipulate as they study the brain and those used by puppeteers to manipulate both a puppet and the spectators’ imaginations.

These productions exist, on one level, as work created for young people, but at the same time raise awareness of the latest neuroscientific research. A complementary programme of talks and debates for adults will explore related themes and reveal how the theatre-makers and scientists collaborated.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 21.47.43There will be several displays in the main foyer including an exhibition Silvering the Cerebrum by Dilwyn Smith which opened to great interest and acclaim at University College London Hospital earlier this year, as well as activities and an exhibition from The London Brain Project. Throughout the festival scientist Sinead Rocha will be investigating infants’ spontaneous motor tempo (or natural rhythm) following performances of Shake, Rattle and Roll.

Polka Theatre will also take part in Fun Palaces during the weekend of 1 – 2 Oct. These events and activities will be free to the public (although places must be reserved for seated events) and includes a screening of Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out, as well as a range of free participatory workshops for children and their families.

Brain Waves is a natural evolution for Polka, building on a long established interest in the impact of theatre on child development. Celebrating exciting partnerships between artists and scientists, and the abundance of fascinating research into neuroscience, the festival supports new work to engage children and families while reaching out to a much broader audience. Polka believes that children’s theatre can have strong relevance for the wider community, and by working with artists and scientists the Festival aims to create new dialogues highlighting the importance of these ongoing partnerships.

For more information and to book tickets, head to Polka’s website.

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