Our mission


We create uplifting children’s shows and workshops using physical theatre, musical instruments, mime, puppetry, and clowning. We share these performances with underprivileged children in international areas of deprivation and high refugee intake.

Since 2012, Wind-Up Penguin shows have sparked the imagination of over 45,000 children in refugee camps, shelters, hospitals, orphanages, slums, prisons, isolated schools, and special needs organisations.

We are professionally-trained London-based musicians and actors. We are building a movement of altruistic and generous performers, using our craft to make a difference in the humanitarian sector.

Why we matter

States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.‘ Article 31, UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

We reach children who have little to no access to live music and theatre, collaborating closely with inspirational NGOs who provide primary relief. We recognise the considerable benefits that music and theatre have on the development and well-being of these vulnerable young people. One creative experience can inspire a young person for a lifetime.

“The Wind-Up Penguin are a group of highly motivated students who are really interested in charity work. They produce really dazzling and colorful productions to entertain children throughout the world.” Jonathan Vaughan – Head of Music at the Guildhall School

Performance at the Clineci school, Romania, December 2012

Our Story

Our story

Music in hospital wards at the Roosvelt hospital, Bogota

Music in hospital wards at the Roosvelt hospital, Bogota

We are students and alumni from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and RADA, London, UK. We create new musical theatre for children from scratch, which we then perform to underprivileged children in hospitals, orphanages, rural schools, and special needs centres in developing countries.

The Wind-Up Penguin theatre company was founded in April 2012 by Ioana Macovei-Vlasceanu and myself, Elisabeth Swedlund, both at the time second year singing students. The two of us had previously worked a lot with underprivileged children, and surrounded in London by music and drama of an incredibly high level, felt we needed to bring live art of an equal quality to children who live difficult lives and have a very restricted access to live entertainment.

After a few months of inspiration, organisation, planning, rehearsing, and sending lots of e-mails, the two of us alongside seven of our Guildhall friends from the music, acting, and technical theatre departments found ourselves on a flight heading to Romania, on the 1st of December 2012, with a magical musical show under our arm to be performed to children in need.

I can very truthfully say that this trip was one of the most inspiring experiences in the lives of myself and my teammates. We performed our show in one hospital, one special needs centre, and three rural schools, to children who were leading difficult lives. Performing in the Bucharest hospital for children with cancer most certainly wasn’t easy, but seeing all these children’s faces light up and smile, hearing them laugh and laugh, and being asked again and again ‘when are you coming back !?’, can only reinforce our conviction that using our artistic talents to bring laughter and inspiration to children who live difficult lives is high up there on the list of ‘the right things to do’.

From this project in Romania stemmed another project in Romania in December 2013, with 17 people taking part, two brand new shows created, twice as many performances, and twice as many underprivileged children inspired.

After both these projects, we felt confident and very enthusiastic about starting to bring our performances to underprivileged children across the globe. From one Eastern European adventure, 24 projects have stemmed all over the globe: we’ve been to Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, India, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, Germany, and Belgium – and don’t plan on stopping our projects any time soon!

We are extremely thankful to each and every person who helped us on our path to deliver music, theatre, and a breath of fresh air to children around the world living difficult lives.

For the team,

Workshop at St. Ivan Rilski orphanage, Sofia

Workshop at St. Ivan Rilski orphanage, Sofia, Bulgaria, December 2014

Meet the team

Meet the team



Elisabeth Swedlund

Barney Medland
Thomas Moss
Meg Bird

Past and Present Team Members
Jesse Angelo (actor)
Eleanor Arnot (Stage and Costume Management)
Charlotte Bartley (Recorder Player/Clarinettist)
Friederike Bieber (classical voice)
Megan Bird (jazz singer)
Ella Bodeker (classical singer)
Ruby Bowler (viola player)
Daniel Bowerbank (actor)
Lauren Brown (clarinettist)
Isabella Brownson (actor)
Omar Bynon (actor)
Emma Canning (actor)
Ross Carswell (actor)
Adi Chase (Composer)
Rachel Coe (Clarinettist)
Jacob Coleman (Actor)
Helen Cox (theatre facilitator)
Victoria Creighton (Flautist)
Curtis Day (composer)
Rodrigo De Vera (Pianist)
Ruth Dingle (French Horn player)
Anna Driftmier (Stage Designer)
Raphael Eilenberg (actor)
Jack Flammiger (Actor)
Elisabeth Flett (Recodrer Player/Violinist)
Charlotte Fraser (actress)
Julia Hamilton (violin player)
Johanna Harrison (singer)
Abi Heath (Clarinettist)
Josephine Hill (actor)
Edward Holmes (Clarinettist)
Jack Holton (Singer)
Ellis Howard (Actor)
Lucas Houldcroft (trumpet player)
Ana Ikkos-Serrano (Singer)
Lerato Islam (theatre facilitator)
Darcie Jago (trumpet player)
Jay Jones (stage director)
Bozhana Karadalieva (pianist)
Emma Kenrick (flautist / music therapist)
Lina Kosi (Stage Manager)
Chloe Lam (singer)
Louis Landau (actor)
Rebecca Lee (actor)
Anna Litvinenko (cellist)
Ioana Macovei-Vlasceanu (Classical singer)
Chavdar Mazgalov (pianist)
Luke Maher (Frehcn horn)
Barney Medland (Trombonist)
Zoe Moore (actor)
Tom Moss (Bassoonist)
Jordan Murray (percussionist)
Corey Mylchreest (actor)
Tal Naveh (performance artist)
Christian Needle (Lighting/Sound and Video Designer)
Sissel Nielsen (Stage Manager)
Caleb Obedia (actor)
Abigail Palmer (stage manager)
Joseph Partridge (classical singer)
Olivia Petryszac (recorder player)
Verity Poulston (Jazz singer)
James Ratcliffe (composer)
Patrick Riley (actor)
Ilar Rees-Davies (classical singer)
Jessica Rhodes (actor)
Caleb Roberts (Actor)
Valerie Sanders (Violinist)
Pippa Scourse (trumpet player)
Gero Shipmann (Guitarist)
Tegen Short (actor)
Charlotte Skidmore (Singer)
Liam Smaje (theatre facilitator)
Wesli Spencer (Actor)
Alexandra Stephenson (actor / saxophonist)
Jessica Sweeney (spoken word)
Sarah Sweet (Stage Manager)
Frank Walker (French Horn)
Lydia Ward (singer)
Bianca Watts (harpist)
Emma Whyte (Actor)
Tom Widdicombe (Viola Player)