Polyglot May/June e-news: we did it!

May was a very exciting month for Polyglot! On the 18th, we wrapped up the biggest fundraising appeal that we have ever run. Our target was $50,000, with Creative Partnerships Australia matching this amount if we raised it. The pressure was on! It was down to the wire, but by the end of the day on Friday 18 May, we were able to claim a victory. Thanks to our generous donors, we raised a whopping $51,820!

We were also extremely excited that we welcomed almost 100 new donors to the Polyglot giving community through this campaign. And in keeping with the 40th Birthday theme, we received over 40 gifts of $40!

THANK YOU to everyone who supported us, either with a gift or by spreading the word and advocating for Polyglot. We would not have succeeded without you – you helped us reach our biggest ever fundraising target. This is a huge achievement for an organisation of our size, and we are so grateful to everyone for your support and your investment in our future.

As we raised our target of $50,000, Creative Partnerships Australia will double it, thanks to its Plus1 matched funding.

These funds mean a lot to Polyglot – they will go a long way towards establishing our new home at Abbotsford Convent, and ensuring that our next 40 years shine brightly.

Our Artistic Director Sue Giles penned a thank you note – read her words here.

Of course, it’s always a good time to give, and although our matched funding campaign is now complete, the end of the financial year is rapidly approaching. We’re still fundraising to support the big relocation and gifts of all sizes will make a difference to our future (and are tax deductible)! To give now, visit polyglottheatre.secure.force.com.

May also saw the 2017 films created by 5678 Film Club screened at the Cairns Children’s Festival screenPLAY event, and an industry forum focused on Sue Giles’ Platform Paper was held in Sydney, hosted by Theatre Network Australia and Theatre Network NSW. It followed the sell-out success of the Melbourne event in February, and Sue presented the keynote address, as well as moderating a panel discussion between Tasnim Hossain, Amy Matthews, Stefo Nantsou and Sarah Parsons.

June is looking even busier! We kick the month off with two 5678 Film Club films – The Box and Beyond The Box ­­– being featured at Little Big Shots Film Festival at ACMI. They are being shown as part of the Kids Behind The Camera schools screening tomorrow Wednesday 6 June at 10.15am. Bring the popcorn!

This week, Hear Me Roar is back at ArtPlay to continue its development. There are sessions on offer for different age groups – visit our calendar for all the details.

The Queen’s Birthday long weekend sees a very exciting project coming to life. Polyglot Theatre is collaborating with Melbourne Zoo to present Cat City – an immersive play zone full of cardboard boxes, where children and their families can create cat characters and a cardboard cat world, full of tunnels, secret sleeping places, and hidden forts. Cat City was developed to spread the message of the Zoos Victoria community conservation campaign, Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife. To find out more, you can read our Cat City story here.

We also return to ArtPlay with Light Pickers, presenting a series of creative development showings for babies to 5 years. Light Pickers is the latest work to emerge from The Generator – Polyglot’s artistic leadership program. Conceived by Mischa Long, it is born from the premise that young children are irresistibly drawn to sources of light.

And the Tangle fun isn’t over yet! We’re delighted to share with you a review of our Abbotsford Convent season, written by 12-year old Gully Thompson. Read it here.

We look forward to sharing more Polyglot adventures with you in our next e-news!


We did it!

Sue Giles

“We did it! With help from so many people – new friends and old – we have achieved our enormous fundraising target of $50,000. Now we can afford to move to Abbotsford Covent; to start afresh, facing our next 40 years with a shift in perspective, with more room and a bigger community, and in a space that is strongly aligned to our vision for Polyglot.

One of the most wonderful things about this appeal was that we could feel the support and connection through the airwaves. People really understand and appreciate Polyglot and what the company does and this was expressed in different ways throughout the campaign: artists who have grown through the company’s touring and development of new works, children who have experienced and been part of the work we create, parents who appreciate the freedom and involvement that is Polyglot, donors who stood up and donated again with messages of support and confidence, people in other countries who know the company’s work and feel part of our future, family members who dug deep and made a double commitment to the company, peers and colleagues who have watched our fortunes across the years and can see the spirit of the company playing out for the benefit of many.

As the final day came to a close, the race to reach the target was intense. “Like watching the Sydney Swans win the Grand Final!” was the comment from our Communications Coordinator Erica – whose inspired messages and images fuelled the campaign and sent wonderful stories around the world. But we did it – what a joy and a relief! Scattered far and wide as the news broke, we gathered to celebrate on Monday with chocolate cake and a heartfelt toast to all our supporters.

The move to Abbotsford is a long held dream. In 2006, when the Convent first called for tenants, we couldn’t imagine being able to move, even though the potential of the spaces and vision of the Convent were so appealing for us. Even then we wanted Polyglot to be in a position of collective energy – in the middle of something, in a hub, with like-minds. 

We know that to be where the people are, where a creative community can provide constant stimulus, where children and families are welcomed and encouraged, will take us into a new era. The new office will give our staff a beautiful place to work, we will have the grounds and rooms of the Convent to play with, we will be inspired by the artists and creative thinkers that make up that community, we will have new schools to work with in the local area, families to meet and the possibility of new ways of working and new relationships.

One of the best things that happened during the campaign was the re-connection with so many people who have contributed to Polyglot’s eclectic history and its position as one of the most respected and well-known companies for children’s theatre in Australia. From Naomi Tippet AM, our founder and dear friend, through to past artistic directors, producers and managers, performers, production people, puppeteers, inventors, writers and makers, audiences and supporters. We are only who we are because of the footsteps of those gone before, the path created by other obsessives, who believed and still believe in the power of art to make the difference in a child’s life.  

From all of us – thank you for your support as we reach Polyglot’s 40th birthday – an incredible milestone in our incredible company’s life.”   


Cat City

Visit Melbourne Zoo this Queen’s Birthday long weekend to experience a special, one-time-only Polyglot event – Cat City!

An immersive play zone full of cardboard boxes, in Cat City you’ll make your own cat character, and build and explore the world around you. Create tunnels, secret sleeping places, and hidden forts out of cardboard.

Cat City has been developed to spread the message of the Zoos Victoria community conservation campaign, Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife.

Free with Zoo entry, kids will love turning into cats and immersing themselves in their own cat world!

We spoke to a couple of the people involved with Cat City to see why they’re excited for the project.

Mischa Long, Artist, Polyglot Theatre

“For us as artists, Cat City opens up a bunch of fun possibilities, using materials from our other shows: cardboard, paper, tangle, bubble-wrap and tape, lots of tape.

Adults and kids will make themselves a cat outfit, as simple as ears or as complex as they wish to go, which means anything is possible! We love to see what people come up with. One of the great joys of Polyglot shows is seeing the creativity and imagination people bring and discover as they play.

We’ve been working on a bunch of playful spaces with tunnels, poles, boxes and a variety of toys, all made for giant cats!

Presenting it at the Zoo will be such a treat – families can visit the animals and then channel their ‘inner animal’. It will be awesome to see cats walking throughout the Zoo (and not hassling the birds).

Cat City is all about helping people become more aware of how to make playful spaces for their own cats, keeping their cats indoors (so the birds and critters are safe) but not bored!

We hope that you can visit us at the Zoo, think like a cat, and play in our Cat City.”

Scott Killeen, General Manager – Visitor Experiences, Melbourne Zoo

“Zoos Victoria is a leading zoo-based conservation organization that delivers wildlife and community conservation. I have the pleasure in leading the Visitor Experience Team. We deliver a memorable, conservation-based experience designed to foster wildlife-friendly attitudes and values, influence wildlife-friendly beliefs and facilitate wildlife-friendly behaviors.

I’ve been a fan of Polyglot for quite some time, and I’m a big believer in the power of performance in helping connect visitors with nature. When we launched our new Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife community conservation campaign, I saw an opportunity to work with Polyglot and was thrilled when the company took on the challenge.

Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife encourages Victorians to sign up to our online community to get tips and tricks from vets and keepers on how to keep their cat safe at home. As part of this, we’ve developed a number of ‘cat hacks’ that provide novel ideas to engage cats at home. One of these is using cardboard boxes to build a ‘cat castle’.  Polyglot’s Cat City will encourage visitors to imagine, create and play in a giant cat city and imagine how amazing life at home could be for their cat if they had a cat city of their own with places to explore, hide and play.

It’s going to be an immense construction, fueled by imagination and fun. After all, with Polyglot involved, it can’t be anything else!”

David Bock, Interpretation Manager, Melbourne Zoo

“I love the fact that families come to the Zoo to enjoy a day out together. The idea of children turning into cats and creating their own perfect cat city should be an enormous amount of fun for everyone. Showing families how to keep their cats safe and happy through this interactive experience will be both entertaining and educational.

I’m looking forward to Cat City because I want to dress up as a cat and make my own cubby house.”

Cat City will be at Melbourne Zoo from 9-11 June. For more information, visit the Polyglot calendar. For more information about Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife visit www.safecat.org.au.

Photography by Ai Ueda


“Tangle is a magical, inspiring and creative show”

Review by Gully Thompson

When I first heard of the show Tangle, I immediately thought that I would be too young to properly enjoy myself, and I would sit on the fence and write some notes about the show, observing how people interacted with everything. But as soon as I arrived, I was completely consumed by the show, and it only took me a few seconds to be swept away into the bands of elastic.

The genius thing about Polyglot shows is that at first glance, they seem like such simple ideas, just going outside and wrapping yourself in elastic. But as you dig deeper, you realise that while it seems to be such a simple prospect, there is a much deeper aspect of all of their shows. The magic of Polyglot is that a theatre company finally, and I mean finally, actually understands children and what their minds are like. They understand that for a children’s performance, they don’t just need to dim down the quality of theatre for kids, they create a show that is centred around what a child’s mind is like – not one of stupidity and innocence, but one of imagination and mystery, something that kids can enjoy but adults seem to leave behind. But by the looks of it, adults got it back while attending Tangle!

One of the great things about Tangle is that it’s not a show set to one idea, and a basic set of rules, the show is left in the child’s hands to make the show what they want it to be. There are many different things to do in Tangle, it’s amazing to see what children and adults alike can come up with, only supplied with some elastic and a few metal poles.

But it’s not just the concept of the show – it’s also the atmosphere with the combined effort of the really stunning soundtrack that they play with soothing and funny voiceovers over the top, and the performance of the Polyglot artists who give everyone a great laugh, while helping out around the grounds with people who have essentially trapped themselves to the poles.

And the design and the layout of the Tangle set is made to perfection, adding in everything you would need to make a great performance. While I didn’t think I was going to enjoy myself at the start, I have to say that I think I was the most tangled at the end of the show (it took me a full five minutes to get out of the mess). It’s also a great start to Polyglot’s fresh new home at the Abbotsford Convent, and I hope to see them do more shows there.

In conclusion, Tangle is a magical, inspiring and creative show, one built on genius and imagination. I urge you to see it when you get the chance.”

Gully is a 12-year-old writer, poet, reviewer and composer. He has had two written works published, The Shoe’s Lonely Sole in N-Scribe 12 and Father’s Day in Write4Fun’s anthology, Write Here, Write Now. He edited and wrote his e-magazine, Class Mag for two years. He reviews children’s and adult films in school holidays for Vision Australia Radio, and has composed various cinematic musical pieces. He has attended two Philosothons, a philosophy convention run by the Melbourne Art Gallery, was part of the APSMO Maths Olympiad, and attended the National Young Leader’s Day. He has co-written and performed in a stage performance centering around climate change in Northcote Primary School’s promenade performance, Be the Change. Gully is a member of Mensa, currently attends Fitzroy High School, and lives in Northcote.

Tangle photography by Theresa Harrison