Polyglot Theatre was honoured to have the opportunity to return to Japan in 2018, 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 Me – creating sensory environments for neuro-diverse children draws artists into the process and philosophy behind creating immersive spaces for children with diverse needs. It was a hands-on creative workshop to explore environments that can draw children into a theatrical world through their senses, working with multiple needs in touch, sensation and diverse intelligence. Participating artists worked together to create an immersive space together, exploring the different potentials of response from children with complex needs.

Polyglot Theatre then toured to Minami Sanriku – a town devastated by the 2011 tsunami – for the fourth time. In collaboration with 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.

“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 as 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.” Sue Giles

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 Acchi Cocchi, and the resulting work, a giant Kamishibai 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.

Alongside its regional, national and international touring practice, Polyglot is experienced in working with children affected by trauma. The company is increasingly seen as an expert in the delivery of complex community cultural development projects. Of the 2015 project in Minami Sanriku, Artistic Director Sue Giles wrote, ‘With this project we brought children’s play back into focus, reconnecting displaced residents in the community with children to explore family relationships and how they play out for children and older people. It’s enriching for Polyglot, with our artistic practice, to share in rebuilding community spirit through an active, creative experience.’