Caro Meets Children's Show Interview

Robert Penny: Tidy

By | Published on Friday 2 February 2024

Round about now feels to me like a good time to be thinking about children’s shows, especially with half term on the horizon and dull weather making it maybe more fun to be inside.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d investigate ‘Tidy’, a co-production from Polka Theatre and Theatr Iolo, that begins a run at Polka Theatre this week. 

It’s a show for younger children, set in the forest and featuring a trio of friendly animals. I spoke to cast member Robert Penny about the play, his role in it and about the performer himself. 

CM: Can you start by telling us a bit about the narrative of ‘Tidy’? Who is it about and what happens in it?
RP: ‘Tidy’ is about a badger named Pete and his dedication to keeping the forest tidy. His friends Rabbit and Fox sometimes assist and sometimes hinder his quest to keep it this way!

However one day Pete goes too far, but with the help of his friends – and his favourite tunes along the way – they set about putting everything right.

CM: What themes are explored through the show?
RP: Environment, friendship, learning to let things go, teamwork, the importance of nature.

CM: Who is it aimed at and who is it suitable for?
RP: The show’s aimed at children aged between three to seven years old. However children who are younger or older will still find enjoyment from the puppetry, music and a few surprises along the way!

CM: What is your part in the play? What made you want to work on this show?
RP: I play Pete the badger in the show, both human and puppet form!

I wanted to work on this show as it’s a brilliant opportunity to work with Polka Theatre and Theatre Iolo.

I found a few similarities in Pete’s characteristics that reminded me of myself, and I loved the integration of puppetry and music within the show

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your fellow cast members and the creative team behind the show?
RP: One of the amazing things about this job is that we get to meet and work with new people all the time with a range of skills and abilities.

The creative team on this show is so exciting, the direction, music and design is working so well together, and we can’t wait to get it in front of an audience.

I am joined in this cast by Clare Pointing, who works as an actor and puppeteer and plays an excitable and loyal Rabbit, who loves her friends and the beauty of the forest.

And also Jack Benjamin, who works as an actor and musician, and plays a Fox, who loves playing his guitar and absorbing the world around him!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up working in the arts?
RP: I’m an actor and gymnast, specialising in physical performance, ranging from circus, theatre and movement to stage combat and puppetry.

I began performing as part of my gymnastics training, continuing through school doing GCSE and A-level drama in addition to the school productions.

I then went onto drama school and circus theatre school where I fused my gymnastics training with my love of performing. Now I’m very lucky and grateful to use these skills as part of my professional practice!

CM: What have been the highlights of your working life so far?
RP: Hard to pick one, but I loved performing for the Royal Family as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee parade! Also, making my West End debut in ‘The Smeds And The Smoos’ with Tall Stories!

CM: What aims do you have for the future?
RP: In the future I’d love to continue integrating more of my physical skills with theatre and continue advocating for better representation, especially within the theatre industry, both on stage and within the creative teams.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
RP: Sadly I am unable to say here what’s next for me… But I’ve got some exciting things to look forward to!

‘Tidy’ is on at Polka Theatre from 10 Feb-24 Mar. For more information and to book tickets, head to the venue website here.

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