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The Everywhere Bear at Polka Theatre

We talk to illustrator Rebecca Cobb about seeing her creations come to life on stage!

Illustrator Rebecca Cobb has worked with best-selling author Julia Donaldson on numerous children’s books, most notably on ‘The Paper Dolls’ which was turned into a play at Little Angel Theatre in 2015. Now their story, the ‘Everywhere Bear’, has been adapted for the stage by Adventure Theatre in the shape of an extraordinary puppetry show, bringing the beautiful and tender story to life with rhyme, original music and delightfully expressive puppets at Polka Theatre. London Calling talked to Rebecca about seeing her creations come to life and the teddy bear she loved in her childhood.

The Everywhere Bear by Suzi Corker Photgraphy

London Calling: How did you get into illustration? And were you always drawn to children’s stories?
Rebecca Cobb: I have always drawn things since I can remember and I went to university to study illustration. I did some editorial work for newspapers and magazines but then I went more into children’s books, which is what I do now.
LC: What is your work process? Do you have an idea right away what it should look like when you read a story?
RC: It’s different every time but normally when you read a story, pictures form in your head pretty much straight away, and then you try to get those down on paper as quickly as possible. Then it’s just lots of redrawing and redrawing until you get a good vibe and you do the final artwork from there.

The original Everywhere Bear book jacket image (c) Rebecca Cobb

LC: Tell me the story of the Everywhere Bear!
RC: He is a classroom mascot and every weekend one of the children takes it in turns to take the bear home and look after him, and then on Monday bring him back to school and tell all the other children about what they’ve done together. But then, one day there is a new boy in class called Matt and he accidentally looses the bear on his way to school and the bear goes on this big adventure all by himself.
LC: Now the story and your images have been adapted for the stage. What is it like seeing your creation come alive?
RC: It’s really amazing! It looks just like the book which is very exciting to see and the puppets are really beautiful. They are wooden puppets and there are animated projections as well. The whole set is absolutely amazing, the actors are brilliant and the music is great, it’s all really good.

LC: Were you involved with the design of the puppets?
RC: No, it was a surprise, I didn’t know at all. So when I saw them and they looked just like three-dimensional versions of my drawings, I got quite emotional. It is lovely to have your work interpreted by other artists, it’s a really nice experience.

Rebecca Cobb

LC: Did you have a favourite teddy bear as a child?
RC: It wasn’t a bear, it was a rabbit. She was called Mrs. Honneybun and I did lose her a few times, so I empathise with Matt in the story!
The Everywhere Bear is at Polka Theatre, Wimbledon, 6 July – 26 August and is recommended for ages 3 – 6. Tickets are £12.50.