Polyglot Theatre is Australia’s leading creator of interactive and participatory theatre for children and families. Our distinctive artistic philosophy has placed us at the international forefront of contemporary arts experiences for babies and children up to 12 years of age. Inspired by the artwork, play and ideas of children, we create imagined worlds where audiences actively participate in performance through touch, play and encounter.
The company’s first show in 1978, a multi-lingual puppet performance, gave the company its name. From the year 2000 under the artistic direction of Sue Giles, Polyglot moved away from an identity connection to a specific art form, embracing explorative contemporary practise to create large-scale playful interactive works, experiential theatre works, workshops and residencies with school children, and valuing public involvement alongside professional performance. Polyglot celebrated its 40th birthday in 2018.
Since 2000, Polyglot’s growing repertoire of Play Space works has positioned us as international leaders in contemporary theatre for children. These works, including We Built This City, Tangle, Paper Planet, Ants, Sticky Maze and Boats have toured extensively to venues and festivals including: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Darwin Festivals; Singapore Arts Festival; LIFT Festival; Greenwich + Docklands Festival; Hull City of Culture Festival; Kristiansand Festival (Norway); EQT Children’s Theater Festival, Walker Art Center, Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center (United States of America); National Theatre (United Kingdom); Hanam Arts Centre and Ansan Cultural Square (South Korea); Esplanade Theatres on the Bay Singapore; Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre, Huzhou Grand Theatre and Shanghai Interactive Festival of Theatre (China); Hong Kong Arts Carnival; Macau Cultural Centre; and New York University (Abu Dhabi).
How High The Sky, our ground-breaking work for babies, premiered in Melbourne Festival in 2012 and toured to Hong Kong and Macau in 2015. Separation Street, a work for older children aged 8 – 12, premiered in Melbourne in 2015, and took our fascination with audience participation to a new level, dividing children and adults for entirely separate theatrical journeys.
Since 2011, we have delivered complex artistic and intercultural collaboration projects including a multi-year cultural recovery project in tsunami-devastated Minami Sanriku in Japan, and several projects with Indonesia’s acclaimed Papermoon Puppet Theatre. Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) – created in collaboration with Papermoon – had its world premiere season in 2017, presented by Arts Centre Melbourne for the inaugural Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts before seasons in Perth International Arts Festival, Oz Asia Festival in Adelaide, and in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
Our Kids’ Collaboration projects deliver meaningful creative projects with children in schools and communities. Our long-running residency with Mahogany Rise Primary School in Melbourne’s Frankston began in 2011 and culminated in 2017, seeing the entire school population engage with Polyglot over this time. 5678 Film Club is a 4-year filmmaking project working with kids in inner-city Collingwood as they transition between primary school and high school over 2016 – 2019. First on the Ladder is our innovative art-meets-sport collaboration with Beyond Empathy, in partnership with Rumbalara Football and Netball Club in Shepparton, Victoria and the Moree Boomerangs in New South Wales. The project centres around the young people from these two Indigenous sports clubs, celebrating their culture and achievements through a range of creative experiences.
Polyglot’s Artistic Director Sue Giles was honoured with the Green Room Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018 and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2019. In 2017, Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) was nominated for the Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children, and in 2016 Separation Street won the Green Room Award for Innovation in Contemporary Performance for Young People. Polyglot was awarded the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Award in 2012, the Governor of Victoria’s Export Award in 2011, the Australian Business Arts Foundation Giving Award in 2010, Shanghai International Children’s Theatre Festival Award for Performance Excellence in 2009, and the Drama Victoria Award for Best Performance for Primary Schools in 2005.
Polyglot is a not for profit organisation, supported with core funding from the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and City of Melbourne, alongside many project-based government and philanthropic funders and private donors.