Children's Writing Inspires The Box Of Photographs

Wimbledon's Polka Theatre puts youngsters at the heart of new work

As part of Polka Theatre’s ongoing commitment to putting young people at the heart of new writing, The Box of Photographs is a new play by Daniel Jamieson based on imaginative stories written by children - including some from Wimbledon.

This exciting new play exploring invention and discovery, grew from an idea that unusual photographs would provide an interesting stimulus to inspire children’s creative writing.

During the summer and autumn of 2015, Polka ran a competition for children in Key Stage 2 (ages 8 – 11), inviting them to look at a selection of photos from the V&A Museum of Childhood archive, and respond with an original story.

At a time when students are assessed from a young age, the competition was a celebration of creativity and ideas.

From over 500 entries, 21 stories were selected, and writer Daniel Jamieson has combined pieces of them all, fusing them into an original script about a young girl who escapes to a world where imagination rules.

The winning schools included some from the Wimbledon area: All Saints Primary School, Wimbledon; Malmesbury Primary School, Morden; Merton Abbey Primary School.

The stories are inspired by a selection of photographs by Donne Buck gifted to the V&A archive. Donne Buck is an activist who has campaigned for children’s right to play for decades. His photographs of children playing date from the early 50s to the 70s and chart the life of London’s adventure playgrounds after World War Two. They highlight the resourceful outdoor play spaces created in Britain’s inner-cities with limited money using rubble and building material found on derelict sites. The photos have, says writer Jamieson, “a mysterious, lyrical quality” and many of the children’s stories captured the sense of fearless adventure that can be seen in the photographs.

Jamieson’s play focuses on the story of Chelsea, who has left her old home and school to move to a dingy new flat with her mum. When Chelsea finds a box of mysterious old photos underneath her bed, she believes the eccentric old lady who lived there before must have left them just for her.  With the help of Miss Lieban, Chelsea dreams up fantastical stories to escape her new surroundings, whilst Chelsea helps the old lady remember her past.

The Box of Photographs is written by Daniel Jamieson, directed by Sarah Punshon, designed by Lily Arnold, with lighting design by Elliot Griggs, video deign by Louise Rhoades-Brown and composer Julian Butler. The performers are Hannah Boyde and Jessica Hayles. 

During the run at Polka, all 21 children who had characters and ideas incorporated into the script will be invited to a special performance to see elements of their stories on stage.

Listings Information:

Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon London SW19 1SB

A new play by Daniel Jamieson, directed by Sarah Punshon

Based on stories by Key Stage 2 Primary School students

Polka Main Stage, 22 April – 15 May 2016

Recommended for ages 7-11

Box Office: 020 8543 4888. Check performance times with the Box Office or at

After-show talk: 7 May at 2.30pm

BSL interpreted performance: 7 May at 2.30pm

Audio Described Performance: Sat 14 May at 2pm.

March 9, 2016

Related links
Related Links

The Box of Photographs