Polyglot Jan/Feb e-news

A great start to 2019

It’s been a wonderful long summer, and we’ve all been enjoying the sunshine. The Polyglot team took a break over Christmas and New Year to recharge after an enormous 2018 and prepare for an epic 2019.

We welcomed in the new year with a riotous and colourful season of Invisible Orchestra presented by Arts Centre Melbourne. Executive Director Viv Rosman flew to New York City for the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) Congress, and the Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) team assembled in Philadelphia for the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) 2019 Showcase. Our Artistic Director Sue Giles kept a travel diary during IPAY – you can read this here.

In case you missed the big news, Sue was appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day 2019 Honours List. Sue was been recognised with this honour for her significant service to the performing arts as an artistic director, and to theatre for children, and we couldn’t be prouder! You can read more here.

In 2019, Polyglot is looking forward to the final year of First On The Ladder – our three-year art vs. 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 on the young people from these two Indigenous sports clubs – celebrating their culture and achievements through a range of creative experiences including filmmaking, radio broadcasting and play workshops. 2018 was an action-packed and hugely exciting year for the project – read more here.

Our other major Kids’ Collaborations project, 5678 Film Club, will also continue in 2019. 5678 Film Club is a three-year project that supports young people making the transition between primary and secondary school in Collingwood, Melbourne. It runs as a weekly after-school film club, empowering the young participants to be co-creators in every aspect of the film-making process, so they can tell their own stories through short films. For updates about this project, follow 5678 Film Club on Instagram. 

School started last week but there’s still lots of summer fun to be had! We’ve put together our top Melbourne picks for term-based fun for kids – read this here. We’re also sharing some gorgeous photos of Invisible Orchestra, taken by Carla Gottgens during the season at Arts Centre Melbourne. See these here.

And we’ve made some changes to our Education News! We kicked things off in December with a feature article written by Glen Walton of Playable Streets regarding Clippy, the latest Polyglot school workshop. Read it here.

International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) 2019

In January, the Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) team assembled in Philadelphia for the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) 2019 Showcase. Our Artistic Director Sue Giles kept a travel diary during IPAY – we’re delighted to share some extracts with you.

IPAY 2019, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, saw our cherished work, Cerita Anak (Child’s Story), selected to Showcase. This was a massive undertaking but a vital one as it gave Polyglot the opportunity to show the theatrical work we create, outside of our Play Space shows that the American market knows well. There was a large Australian contingent and support from the Australia Council for the Arts through Norman Armour and the embassy staff in both New York and Washington DC. 

Day 1 – Tuesday 15 January
Registration – catching up with old friends, including former Polyglot performer Sarah Kreigler, and Jenna Horton, a local performer who has worked with us on USA tours of Ants and Paper Planet. The ‘Spark’ pre-conference day started well with keynotes and a good gathering of interesting people. I nicked off to have a meeting with Bebe De Soares about the 2019 Mickey Miners Award which is going to Yvette Hardie, President of ASSITEJ International and National Director of ASSITEJ South Africa. Yay! I came back to Spark to find everyone in discussion groups so I quietly joined one to listen. Big connection with Aideen Howard from The Ark in Dublin – this organisation was the inspiration for ArtPlay, so it was fascinating to hear where they’re up to, and to share how ArtPlay has steamed ahead. 

Day 2 – Wednesday 16 January
There was a big foyer of people at the theatre to begin IPAY, which started with welcome speeches and a show – Letter From Elena. We know so many people now (I’ve been coming to IPAY for 10 years) and it’s great to feel part of the family. You always sit next to someone new and start a conversation with them, find out about their work, where they live, what they are interested in. It’s fantastic to hear “Oh Polyglot, wow, I love your work!” which happens a lot.

The show was beautiful: a sophisticated, intriguing and charming dance theatre work about three little girls who wore red dresses trying to find, among hundreds of letters, a letter from their best friend Elena. The mystery of the piece was compelling and we eventually find out that the three were run over by a truck and killed. The letters are from the roadside grave and when they finally find the letter from their little friend, they can leave the place. The piece was told through a tumbling text between the three performers (two French, one Canadian), poetic and beautifully crafted with really lovely dance and performance.

More shows across the day, and then the Members Lunch. It is always the member’s business meeting first, and then Yvette presented the keynote speech around IMPACT: the theme for the kindling sessions, which was great. Then we announced the Mickey Miners Award, and I made a speech – Yvette was very moved. It is so great that someone of her status as an advocate was recognised by the IPAY organisation – advocacy needs to sit hand-in-hand with the market, and presenters and producers alike need to be aware of what small but significant actions they can assist with, for the benefit of all.

The Australian delegation came together at 6.00pm for an event hosted by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian embassy. Bec Allen from the Embassy in DC gave an excellent speech about America and the context in which everyone is living, with the shutdown and the financial uncertainty this creates. She made a really wonderful acknowledgment of country and referenced the importance of our own Indigenous cultural imperatives. Norman Armour (consultant to the Australia Council for the Arts in North America) also spoke well and was very practical and cheerful, enthusiastic about the delegation and keen to find out all he could while we were all together. The Australian mob is very collegiate and friendly, all supporting each other through WhatsApp and at showcases and show-and-tells, introducing people to presenters and sharing information.

Day 4 – Friday 18 January
I was invited to join the Rye Fellows’ session of conversations with professionals from the sector and it was very interesting. Yvette Hardie, Drew from Manual Theatre, one of the directors from Maas Theatre, Hakan Silahsizoglu who curates a festival in Turkey, and myself were present. The Rye Fellows are young people who are sponsored to be at IPAY through the Rye Fellowship. They are coordinated by Erwin Maas and Tony Reekie, and Tony also mentors the Colleen Porter Residence scholars, who get a Danish internship with Aprilfest as part of their supported scholarship.

It is very encouraging each time at IPAY to hear the kinds of lines of enquiry that are being encouraged, to find out from emerging artists and managers what they are interested in, to compare the attitudes and approaches of presenters in various different parts of the country, to understand the effect that education structures have on performance, to delve further into the adult/child relationship with art and how the child is valued in places around the world. Similar yet not similar to ASSITEJ, it has heart beyond the market place but never forgets what is sellable and acceptable for audiences. The challenge is still to bring new ideas and forms to acceptance – even though people love to see the strange and the experimental, the least nuanced work is still what gets toured around the most. 

After this it was back to the theatre for the Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) bump in. We kept at it until 10.30pm, with a tech run squeezed in before 9.00pm.

We made sure this time that the tempung ceremony was carried through. Viv and Julie ordered Indonesian food and Ria made a paper cone, lined it with a plastic bag and made her mountain from coconut rice. We shared the ceremony with the tech team and Kyle (IPAY’s Production Manager) and it was good to have a moment to stop and talk and eat together, after seeking blessings from the universe.

To be continued…

Photography: Toni Wilkinson, Perth Festival, 2018

Term 1 fun for kids

We hope that you enjoyed the warm summer holidays (ideally A LOT of ice-cream was involved), but the fun doesn’t have to stop! School started last week, and we’ve put together some of our top Melbourne picks for term-based fun for kids.

  • ArtClub: “Join a series of fun, visual arts workshops that run throughout the year at ArtPlay.” Find out more here.
  • Circus Oz – circus classes for kids and teens. Find out more here.
  • City of Melbourne 2019 Workshops for Kids. Find out more here.
  • Footscray Community Arts Centre – workshops for kids and young people: “From animation to circus, hip hop to street art…learn from a range of professional artist tutors.” Find out more here. 
  • Melbourne Library Service Children’s Programs: “From sessions for babies and toddlers, to storytimes for preschoolers, school holiday programs, homework and after school clubs, there’s plenty for children of all ages at Melbourne Library.” Find out more here.
  • Mini Maestros: “Fun, active and educational music classes for children aged 6 months to 5 years of age. Mini Maestros combine music with joyful discovery to encourage confident and happy learners.” Find out more here.
  • NGV Australia Weekend Workshops: “Budding artists discover the NGV Collection and create their own works of art using a variety of media.”
    Ages 5-9 – find out more here.
    Ages 10-14 – find out more here.
  • Ready Steady Go Kids is a physio-designed multi-sport program to help children aged 1.5-6 years benefit from sport and physical activity. Find out more here. 
  • St. Martin’s Youth Arts Centre workshops: “A safe space so every student can explore their needs and passions. The St Martins workshop program challenges children to question their assumptions and develop their own world-view.”
    5-8 years – find out more here.
    9-12 years – find out more here.

Photography: Lukas from Pexels

Invisible Orchestra at Arts Centre Melbourne

We welcomed in the new year with a riotous and colourful season of Invisible Orchestra presented by Arts Centre Melbourne. Created by IO in association with Polyglot Theatre, Invisible Orchestra is an exciting musical experiment for children and their adults where beautiful sounds are created with body parts in the most unconventional and hilarious ways.

Imagine a game of musical chairs where the music starts when everyone stops. Just as musicians use their hands to strum a guitar, Invisible Orchestra invites you to use your imagination – and your bum – to shimmy, squash, bump and bop your way around the orchestra.

Carla Gottgens photographed one of the performances at Arts Centre Melbourne – we’re delighted to share some of the images below.

Andrew Callaghan from IO also shared his reflections on the season:

“My favourite part of Invisible Orchestra at Arts Centre Melbourne was discovering new games and ways the orchestra can be played. It was great to get ideas and feedback from the performers and audience, letting it grow into something bigger and better. Also, changing the sounds to farts just before a dad sits down is absolute gold!

Stand out moments with audience members include a three-year-old absolutely losing her mind, running around and screaming with delight; two baby boomers trying every chair, commenting on the exercise it was giving them; a family playing a melody together; and getting everyone to make a choral masterpiece. A big thing I learned about the experience was that it appeals to people of all ages, and makes everyone be silly together for a while.

In the future, I’m looking forward to seeing what the audience will bring – we’re still learning what the invisible orchestra is, and that’s a wonderful thing!” 


Invisible Orchestra at Arts Centre Melbourne was supported by the City of Melbourne.