Category Archives: Blog

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt…

Calling all Theatre Peckham alumni & current students; we’re launching a photo project to connect all previous bear-winners from any one of our fantastic shows over the past 15 years.

Are you bear-winner? Please send us a picture with your bear via email to

Cyrus & Freya; Clown, 2015
Cyrus & Freya; Clown, 2015


In November 2000 children were rehearsing for the big Christmas show – that millennium year it was “The Tale of Giant Big Bloke.”

At the same time we were running a touring show for under-fives, based on the rhyme “Miss Polly Had a Dolly”. The large and lovely doll who played the Dolly in the show had a toy of her own – a very small Teddy bear.  This Doll and her Bear often sat beside me as we rehearsed for “Big Bloke” – and interest in these toys grew among many members of the child cast.  Desire became strong – all the children wanted to own the little Bear.

The children asked questions:- “What can he do?”  “What is his name?”  “Can I have him?”

“He can do quite a lot.” I replied. “He can move his arms and legs – look.”  A leg went up in a high kick – “and his arms do this” – Bear’s right arm swung up in a good imitation of a Heil Hitler salute.

“His name is Dennis.” I said. There was silence. “And no you can’t have him. You can’t have him because there is one Bear and around thirty five children in this cast.  You can’t ALL have him.”

Disappointment. Then a voice chirped up.

“Why is that bear called Dennis?”

“Dennis’s name”, I replied smoothly, (I had just made it up) “-comes from the front of the rubbish trucks that pick up our bins. You know those bin lorries.  They have Dennis written right across their fronts.”

“This Dennis is an actor, like you. He knows a good performance from a rubbish one. And when he sees some lazy person give a bad performance he puts his paw up like this (Bear saluted) and shouts “RUBBISH”.”  Children fell about with laughter,-and indignation, and bewilderment.

When I had quelled the outcry we went on with the rehearsal. More than once Dennis joined in. His paw swung high and a shout of “RUBBISH!” went up. The rehearsal was hilarious.

Before we all went home, at the end of rehearsal time, I sat the whole cast down – silently!

“Dennis is going to be given away on the last performance of this show. “ I announced.

”He will be given to the girl or boy about whose performance, and behaviour, Dennis has never, ever, had to put his paw up and shout “RUBBISH”.

Every public show since then has seen Dennis, and the sons and daughters of Dennis, awarded to the children who have worked, behaved, and performed to the highest standard in every cast.

When the girl bear was introduced (- one for a boy, one for a girl,) some bright spark (I think it was one of the Turney girls) suggested that the Boy Bear should be called Oscar, and the Girl Bear Emmy. They have been called this ever since.

Theatre news round-up!

At Theatre Peckham, we think it is important for young people interested in the arts to stay involved and aware of what is happening in the industry  – outside of their home youth theatres – and this regular post will summarize the biggest items of arts and theatre news of the week.

There hasn’t been a lot of good news this week in the theatre industry, but a few very significant things have happened.

1) The Battersea Arts Centre Fire. 

On Friday there was a major fire at Battersea Arts Centre. The BAC is a very influential theatre, and the theatre and local communities have gathered together to support it in this time. They have been raising money, and even managed to get shows back on in one of the rooms just a few days after the fire wiped out a significant amount of the building – including the Grand Hall which was their largest theatre space. Our Act Up group had been at the BAC just a week before watching a performance in the Grand Hall. The show they saw has since lost all it’s staging, props and costume in the fire.

2) The closing of Ideastap

This technically happened last week, but it’s very important news particularly for young artists. Ideastap provided support for emerging artists with funding, mentoring, and training opportunities – all accessed for free, without it there are few other schemes offering similar support to people in the early stages of their careers. If you would like to sign a petition, or read more about the closure of ideastap you can do so here.

3) The Olivier Awards

To round off with some lighter news, the nominations for the Olivier Awards were announced last week. (It’s like the Oscar’s for British Theatre) The Young Vic had the most nominations with 11. It was also announced that dancer and choreographer, Sylvie Guillem will be honoured with a special award at the ceremony that takes place on the 12th April.


Thats it for this week’s round up. Watch this space for next fridays edition – hopefully with something more cheery to discuss.