Polyglot April/May e-news: Melbourne, Japan and Indonesia!

What a wonderful time we had with Tangle at Abbotsford Convent on 13-14 April! Beautiful blue skies on Friday, then wild and wet on Saturday with a miracle parting of the clouds just in time for the last session of play.

For those of you that braved the elements, we hope that you had loads of fun twisting, stretching and tangling amongst all the colours. One of our favourite photographers, Theresa Harrison, captured the Friday afternoon session, and we’re thrilled to share a selection of her photos with you here – we hope that you enjoy them!

The day before Tangle kicked off at the Convent, a Paper Planet workshop unfolded at Cohesion Festival 2018. Presented by Uniting in Victoria and Tasmania, Communities for Children Hume, and Spectrum, the festival celebrated the joy of diversity. It was a great day at Melbourne Polytechnic Broadmeadows!

How do we know what we want or who we are? Are our choices limited by expectations from the world around us? The first creative development of Hear Me Roar – a collaboration between Polyglot Theatre and Elbow Room – took place at ArtPlay in April. With workshops for babies, 2-5 year olds, and gender-diverse and Rainbow Families, participants took part in an inclusive and fun exploration of identity. They explored these big questions through play, by engaging in elements such as light and sound, texture, costume, games, drawing, atmosphere and different physical spaces. A facilitated conversation and discussion was also held. There will be an additional Hear Me Roar workshop for 2-5 year olds at ArtPlay on Wednesday 6 June – book here.

In March, Polyglot Theatre was honoured to have the opportunity to return to Japan, delivering a professional development workshop for Japanese artists and a community cultural engagement project in the town of Minami Sanriku.

Sue Giles, Polyglot’s Artistic Director, kept a travel diary throughout the trip to Minami Sanriku, and we are delighted to share excerpts with you. Ai Ueda joined us on the tour as a photographer and translator, and we’ve included a selection of her gorgeous images throughout. Take a look here.

Polyglot Theatre was thrilled to tour to Indonesia for the first time with our theatre work Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) in late April. ARTJOG, the annual contemporary art fair based in Yogyakarta, in partnership with Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja, Papermoon Puppet Theatre and Polyglot Theatre, presented seven free, sold out performances of the production, which was created in collaboration with Indonesia’s own Papermoon Puppet Theatre.

Following the season at ARTJOG, Polyglot and Papermoon co-presented a new workshop performance at Makassar International Writers Festival (MIWF). Read more about the tour to Indonesia here.

Closer to home, our Ants and their crumbs were at Glenroy Festival on Sunday 29 April. The Glenroy Festival is an annual event that celebrates the diverse community of Glenroy, presented by Moreland City Council and Festivals Moreland. Read more here. In June, the Ants are marching all the way to the United States for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in Michigan. We can’t wait!

The end of the financial year is approaching! If you’ve been planning to give a tax-deductible donation to our 40th Birthday Appeal, now is the time. Our appeal is in its final week and we must raise $50,000 by 15 May in order for Creative Partnerships Australia to double the amount, thanks to their Plus1 matched funding program.

ALL donations to our appeal – $5, $10, $20, $40, $140, $400 – will help us reach our goal, and we would love your support. Please give today to ensure that Polyglot can continue reaching children around the world with our powerful, transformative work. Give now: polyglottheatre.secure.force.com

 

Tangle at Abbotsford Convent

What a wonderful time we had with Tangle at Abbotsford Convent on 13-14 April! Beautiful blue skies on Friday, then wild and wet on Saturday with a miracle parting of the clouds just in time for the last session of play.

For those of you that braved the elements, we hope that you had loads of fun twisting, stretching and tangling amongst all the colours. One of our favourite photographers, Theresa Harrison, captured the Friday afternoon session, and we’re thrilled to share a selection of her photos with you – we hope that you enjoy them!

Tangle was presented by Polyglot Theatre and Abbotsford Convent Foundation, as part of the Convent Kids program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of the financial year is approaching! If you’ve been planning to give a tax-deductible donation to our 40th Birthday Appeal, now is the time. Our appeal is in its final week and we must raise $50,000 by 15 May in order for Creative Partnerships Australia to double the amount, thanks to their Plus1 matched funding program.

ALL donations to our appeal – $5, $10, $20, $40, $140, $400 – will help us reach our goal, and we would love your support. Please give today to ensure that Polyglot can continue reaching children around the world with our powerful, transformative work. Give now: polyglottheatre.secure.force.com

 

Polyglot in Japan

In March, Polyglot Theatre was honoured to have the opportunity to return to Japan, delivering a professional development workshop for Japanese artists and a community cultural engagement project in the town of Minami Sanriku.

Core artists Mischa Long and Stefanie Robinson presented a workshop for theatre practitioners at the Asia TYA Festival in Japan 2018. The Space Talks To Mecreating sensory environments for neuro-diverse children drew artists into the process and philosophy behind creating immersive spaces for children with diverse needs. It was a hands-on creative workshop exploring environments that can engage children in a theatrical world through their senses, working with multiple needs in touch, sensation and diverse intelligence. Participating artists created an immersive space together, exploring the different potentials of response from children with complex needs.

Polyglot then travelled to Minami Sanriku – a town devastated by the 2011 tsunami – for the fourth time. In collaboration with NPO Acchi Cocchi, a Japanese organisation that focuses primarily on delivering music and arts projects in disaster-affected communities, Polyglot presented two public performances of Paper Planet, and Paper Planet workshops in all five Minami Sanriku elementary schools (Shizugawa, Tokura, Iriya, Isatomae and Natari Elementary Schools) for students in Years 1 and 2.

Polyglot first travelled to the region in 2011, directly after the disaster, then in 2013 with a special installation of We Built This City, and in 2015 with Kids Are The Boss. The 2015 project was also in collaboration with NPO Acchi Cocchi, and the resulting work, a giant Kamishibai (a method of visual storytelling) that told a popular local story through drawings and puppetry, lifted community spirits and demonstrated how the road to recovery after a major disaster is much more than simply rebuilding roads and infrastructure.

Sue Giles, Polyglot’s Artistic Director, kept a travel diary throughout the 2018 trip to Minami Sanriku, and we are delighted to share excerpts with you. Ai Ueda joined us on the tour as a photographer and translator, and we’ve included a selection of her gorgeous images throughout.

Polyglot Theatre personnel on the Minami Sanriku tour included Sue Giles, Rainbow Sweeny, and artists Lachlan MacLeod, Mischa Long and Stefanie Robinson. Lachlan worked collaboratively with NPO Acchi Cocchi to create the sound and music for Paper Planet.

Saturday 3 March

“Over the first public performance, we gathered about 25 people in Paper Planet, shy at first, some tiny ones too apprehensive to get down and walk about but gradually warming up, delightful groups of parents and children including Mr Hatakayama’s family and one girl who arrived by herself and played alone for the whole time – not one smile, very quiet, but deeply involved, making a house from the paper that she slung between trees.

I had a lovely half hour with a very small boy who was with his grandmother, and was half hidden behind a mask and shy to start… I was at a leaf (our paper and tape stations) and he gradually came nearer, then sat down and started to stick things on paper and I copied him, action for action. He became very comfortable with me and liked being the leader. His grandmother had made a tassel and he made another then I copied his tassels so I had one for each hand too, and then we had a fantastic dance between us as I copied his moves identically. Once he realised this was happening, he really took off – huge dramatic shapes, slow movements across his body, up on his knees faster and faster, arms flung to the sky. It was amazing.

The Mayor arrived during the second performance – we’d invited him to come and see the work but this was unexpected. This was a big deal for everyone and he stayed for ages, playing with the kids and posing for photos (I made him a hat) before going onto his next thing. We were assured this was on his personal schedule – not in the official duties – which was impressive. 

We had another surprise visitor too – Mr Komatsu who was our guide and supporter in 2013 when we did workshops in three of the schools. It was so lovely to see him – greyer than before but just as gentle and so happy to see us back in town.”

Tuesday 6 March
“Our school today is Iryia Elementary. I remember coming here in 2013 with We Built This Town for our first workshop.

A beautiful session with children making with great detail (we’d emphasised the making of creatures, like we did in China) and gradually feeling more at ease in their world, starting to play, develop greater details in their costumes and their creatures, starting to change pace and speed up, to form little groups of play and react to the performers with greater detail. The final moment was beautiful with all the kids leaving with stars in their eyes and under a shower of paper snow.”

Wednesday 7 March
“Our third school was Shizugawa, another one we visited in 2013.

Today there are 49 kids and again they all entered quietly and with great care, coming to a central place in the forest to sit and listen to the introduction. One small boy with Down Syndrome was too frightened to come in and although was gently encouraged by his grandfather, he kept crying in alarm.

One of the most beautiful things we saw was the Principal dancing with paper just outside the room, obviously focused on the small boy who was scared. He was dancing with paper, gently waving it and tearing it softly into strips, moving with it and utterly focused on drawing the child into the space. The next time I saw the boy, he was running around the forest, completely happy and involved.

When we met with the Principal afterwards it was such a joy to talk to him. He was filled with love and happiness and carved a big heart in the air – Ho-kuri: heartfelt, smiling with heart behind it. He used this word to describe what he’d witnessed in Paper Planet, that the children were in a most happy place and that after the tsunami, where he lost his house and family members, he was convinced that to live for love and hope and for the present moment was very important. He saw that the children, for the moment, had forgotten everything except fun and play and joy and this was very important in schools, where the only paper they get is a sheet with a particular task to be done with it.”

Thursday 8 March
“Iotomae elementary school was our Paper Planet destination today. Another of the schools we’d worked in in 2013.

A highlight: a small boy came up to me and Ai and he said (as I understand through Ai) “I thought this was a class, that it was a lesson, but this is just playing. This is FUN!” And he did a small happy dance amongst the paper, with a pale blue tissue paper fan in each hand.”

Monday 12 March
“We have had such a full and emotional time with new friends and huge stories, with townspeople who are brave and optimistic and prepared to give the most they have for the happiness and future of their children. 

This project was right, in that we brought an experience to the kids that was resonant for the adults, in terms of the town’s spirit as well as seeing the children having fun outside the rules and structures of their school.

Play was still a thing that seemed important there since the construction site of the town has only just opened up the potential for gardens and family areas. We were in touch with more of the schools than ever before and had vital meetings with the Education Board as well as with Principals.

Considering the warmth of the connection this time, we would like to know whether another project would be welcome and, importantly, to be something people could get behind, and this will be part of our follow up. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics looming, perhaps our final hurrah will be around that.”

Polyglot’s tour to Japan was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

 

Polyglot’s tour to Indonesia

Polyglot Theatre was thrilled to tour to Indonesia for the first time with theatre work Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) in late April. ARTJOG, the annual contemporary art fair based in Yogyakarta, in partnership with Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja, Papermoon Puppet Theatre and Polyglot Theatre, presented seven free, sold out performances of the production, which was created in collaboration with Indonesia’s own Papermoon Puppet Theatre.

Following the season at ARTJOG, Polyglot and Papermoon co-presented a new workshop performance at Makassar International Writers Festival (MIWF). Story Islands invited children and families to make their own tiny boats, and sail across imaginary seas to little islands where stories were told, music was played and wonderful things created. This playful performance was made in collaboration with local artists specifically for the festival. MIWF is a unique event, with a mix of literature and cultural exchange, attended by more than 20,000 people every year. The festival has also been a prominent educational platform in Eastern Indonesia since 2011. The Story Islands collaboration at MIWF focused on storytelling as an important tool in education with an emphasis on educating children, teachers and parents from small islands of Sulawesi and Jakarta through a series of workshops, panel discussions and training.

Polyglot’s tour to Indonesia was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Photo: Indra Wicaksono, 2018

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