November has been a colourful whirl of touring excitement!
We sailed into the month with a season of Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) at OzAsia Festival in Adelaide. It was a joy to share this exquisite voyage with our South Australian friends, and Greg Elliott from InDaily reviewed the experience. “Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) is beautiful, magical, moving and profound – a fine example of an art experience that brings cultures together, explores our humanity and develops empathy for others.” Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) will continue enchanting global audiences at the January 2019 International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) Showcase in Philadelphia and our team is already busily preparing.
Several films created by 5678 Film Club were screened at the Sydney International Festival of Films by Children. SIFFC began in 2012, and gives Australian children under 13 years the opportunity to screen their films alongside their international peers. Children experience the way a cinema audience responds to their work, receive feedback from professional filmmakers, network with their peers and extend their skills. The 5678 Film Club creations were also enjoyed by local audiences, screening at Peel Street Festival in Collingwood recently. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the project with our City of Yarra community.
We returned to the New York University Arts Center in Abu Dhabi for two weeks of Tangle performances amongst the palm trees. The team had a fabulous time connecting with local schools, families and NYUAD students. We even experienced our first sandstorm – Tangle held up remarkably well!
On Sunday 18 November, Polyglot was part of the Abbotsford Convent Open Spaces Festival – the first we’ve been involved in as tenants. The long Sound of Drawing tables stretched out in our office space, and more than 160 people enjoyed listening to their scribbles and scrawls as they drew.
Last week our Ants arrived in India! They performed as part of Australia Fest, a six-month celebration of Australian culture, involving over 75 events across 20 cities in India. Australia Fest is presented by the Australian Government, and this was Polyglot’s first tour to the region. Ants appeared in Kolkata on Tuesday and Wednesday, and in Chennai on Friday and Saturday. Read more here.
On Tuesday 20 November, Polyglot celebrated World Children’s Day. The 2018 theme was #GoBlue in support of a world where all children are at school. The date marks the anniversary of the UN General Assembly adopting the declaration and convention on children’s rights.
We’ve also launched our end-of-year campaign with a twist. As we’ve been so fortunate this year, we’re not asking for money – we’re asking our friends to add stories to our Story Map instead! Can you help us raise 40 stories as a last hurrah for our big 40th birthday year? Read more here.
And finally, Polyglot is delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Hunt as the new Chair of our Board of Directors! Sarah is a highly experienced marketing, audience development and fundraising executive. She takes the reins from long-standing board member Tom Gutteridge, who has stepped down after five years as Chair. The company and the Board extend a heartfelt thank you to Tom for his incredible commitment to Polyglot and leadership as Chair. Read more here.
2018 has been a huge year for Polyglot. Thanks to your support, we celebrated Polyglot’s 40th birthday with our big move to Abbotsford Convent and we couldn’t be more thrilled with our new home. We are so grateful for the way our wonderful community generously rallied together to help us achieve this next big step. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Now that 2018 is winding down, we’ve launched our end of year campaign – but it’s a campaign with a twist. We’ve been so fortunate this year, thanks to our donors digging so deeply, that we’re not asking for money. Instead, we’d like a gift that only you can give us – a memory of your connection to Polyglot.
Long-time artist Mischa Long posted his reflection on our 2011 tour to Seoul.
“Polyglot’s relationship with Korea has grown strong over the years, we have toured there many times and made some wonderful friends. This has led to a love of Korean culture and food that some of us carry very strongly, myself included.
It started with a tour of ‘Checkout’ in 2010, but  was the first time we took a big show to the Performing Arts Market Seoul (PAMS) to blow minds and showcase the awesomeness of a cardboard city. Bronwyn and I flew over from Orange County, where we had just experienced the infamous “it never rains in California” season of We Built This City. Lachlan and Dan followed a couple of days later and this was the first time we worked with Paul Matthews, who is based in Seoul. He speaks the language, could enlighten us to the culture and is a lovely, fiendish man with a wicked sense of humour. He fit right in.
Having travelled from Melbourne to Los Angeles to Seoul in the space of a week, my body clock was… confused. With two days to set up, I was travelling to the site at dawn and taking a very deep ‘nap’ after lunch. We had been given a forecourt near the National Theatre of Korea, but with a little gentle inquiry we were allowed to move our site right in front of the building! Front and centre, with every delegate of PAMS, and a good deal of the general public, walking right past us.” Read the full story here.
As a last hurrah for our big 40th Birthday year, we would love to raise 40 more stories for our Story Map. Can you help? Your unique memory of Polyglot would be a marvelous addition to this dynamic and collaborative archive of our history.
Did you help the Ants build their crumb trail? Did you sail the seas with Cerita Anak (Child’s Story)? Do you have a young friend who shared their thoughts with Voice Lab? Did you work with the company as an artist or designer? Or perhaps you remember one of Polyglot’s early puppet shows coming to your school?
Explore Polyglot’s Story Map and add your story here.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Hunt as the new Chair of our Board of Directors! Sarah takes the reins from long-standing board member Tom Gutteridge, who has stepped down after five years as Chair.
Sarah is a highly experienced marketing, audience development and fundraising executive, who runs her own consultancy business serving the creative sector. She has been on Polyglot’s Board since 2016.
The company and the Board extend a heartfelt thank you to Tom Gutteridge for his commitment to Polyglot and leadership as Chair. During Tom’s time, we celebrated our 40th birthday, relocated to a new home at the Abbotsford Convent and cemented our global reputation as a producer of highly innovative theatre and arts experiences for children and their families.
We look forward to Polyglot’s next adventures with Sarah at the helm. Stay tuned!
Read more here.
In October, Artistic Director Sue Giles and artist Justin Marshall travelled to Warakurna for the next creative development stage of our project with the Tjanpi Desert Weavers and FORM. They spent a week in the community, developing and recording sounds for the Play Space work that is slowly taking shape. Sue kept a travel diary and we’ve shared some excerpts below.
Monday 22 October
We hit the road from Yalara. This is beautiful country. The road to Warakurna starts as the Lassiter Highway and goes past Uluru, all pink and purple and orange, and curves past Kata Tjuta, and then out west, leaving the Brit Tour vans behind and hitting the dirt. We feel like locals, not tourists, knowing our way and recognising landmarks.
There have been big burn-offs through here, with the desert oaks on one side of the road standing black and crisp on red dirt, and on the other, waving smoky green on white-gold grass. We stop and hear the sound of wind through the desert oaks like waves or traffic roar. We pass through the MacDonnell Ranges and the ground dips and rises, blood red rocky outcrops glinting with deep green feathery shrubs up the height, purple and blue green on the other side. Over the WA border and past Docker River, and then losing the ranges along a broad stretch of flat country, recognising our camping country. The car hoods painted with Warakurna Roadhouse 30 km, Warakurna Roadhouse 15km, then the escarpment massive and majestic in the afternoon sun, community roofs glinting and the weather station visible and finally, there.
Tuesday 23 October
The dawn chorus was exceptional. Tiny slim birds with long beaks and the strangest extra single tail feather like they’ve got a string on the end of them making chirruping frog sounds, a raven groaning as it searched for food.
We dropped into the store on the way and saw Selina, who teaches the little kids at school and is also a Tjanpi lady. Then to Tjanpi house. Only CB there all morning, but Justin set up and CB and I talked about the kinds of sounds and ways of listening we could experiment with.
At lunch, back at the roadhouse, we saw Dallas who had just returned – we’ll see her tomorrow. Justin and I made a big list for ourselves about the types of sounds and how to get them, what we need to ask the school and the shape of the sound work as we can expect it to be presented. It’s interesting working with sound only on this trip, because it changes the way you listen and I’ve been super aware of the sounds in the community and how hard it is to try to capture this sense of space, quiet and distant sound in our space that will be basically pretty playful and physical and full of voices.
Wednesday 24 October
I heard Justin leave early walking out to get bird song first thing. Today is windy, with threatened fire hazard and over 40 degrees, so the school is closed.
DG turned up and we talked about the stories and sounds we were thinking to collect. Justin mentioned the Nulka pods that he wanted to record and DG said let’s go and find the tree, so we all piled into the car and drove out to the Nulka tree – out where we all camped the time we came last. It was great to get out bush and the ladies were cheerful, Sati was funny and the car took the three dips in the road before Warakurna turn off in grand style to woops from the back seat. We turned off and drove down the old road to Jamieson and then off again to the camping place where the women gather tjanpi grass. A lot of it had been burned recently so it was a very different landscape, red dirt showing like bones underneath the golden spinifex that usually covered it and trees standing like black skeletons.
The wind had died down and the chances of Justin getting the nulka rattling in the breeze were slim so I went with him up the hill in case I had to shake the tree. Sadly all the nulka had gone – burned in the fires or dropped off or something. The ladies felt bad for him so they kindly pointed out a desert oak with some pods that might make a sound and we all kept quiet in the car while he crouched under the tree with his headphones and fluffy zoom cover. “What he doing?” whispered Sati. “He’s listening to the tree” I replied. They all thought he was pretty funny.
(The sight of Justin creeping up to a sound with the field recorder is becoming one of the more entertaining sights for the ladies who shake with suppressed laughter and explode with it if it doesn’t turn out the way he would like. For instance, creeping up to an idling truck and then the driver switches the engine off. Explosion of laughter from the ladies.)
When we got back to Tjanpi we made lunch and Justin recorded DG talking about the weaving process in language and also in English.
Thursday 25 October
We were at the school by 9am and set up in the library. The littlies were so excellent. We did a fabulous drawing together then played chairs, which they got the hang of eventually and had such fun with. Justin did an orchestration with the tin cans and a stone in each – and the kids loved the action and the repetition of sound and the way we were able to use all their suggestions through following. They enjoyed being the boss – the conductor – and listening back to all the sounds they made.
The final group was a total joy. Just four of them, two girls, two boys and super equal in their energy and what they were prepared to do. The fun they had with chairs was phenomenal. The sounds they made with the tin cans and stones were gorgeous and super focused.
Friday 26 October
A sunny morning so we were all thinking “nah we’ve had the rain, coupla drops, nothing in it”. And then it started. Proper rain, constant and steady.
Justin had placed upturned tins under the drips outside and when it really poured the drips chimed like a beautiful orchestra – wonderful! Plenty of drips to choose from in that leaky old verandah – built for hot sun, not rain. He also got to record Nananya and Eunice talking about old times growing up in the community and life in the wiltja, all in language, (the question whether we translate or not is something we’ll talk to the ladies about) and Eunice recalled a lovely song about birds that we learned as well.
The afternoon was spent happily chatting and recording songs and snatches of conversation, and then we all packed up. It was still pouring.
When we listened back through all the stuff Justin has collected, there is a beautiful shape taking place. The raindrop and tins and stones complement each other beautifully – the wet and the dry – the harsh and the musical – and it became apparent that this sort of abstract musical sound across the big play space might be was what was needed – rather than soundscape or songs.
Sunday 28 October
A beautiful drive back to Yalara with lots of fun stops, including Justin chasing a herd of camels into the distance so he could collect the sound of their grumpy voices (no cigar) , and standing for 10 minutes under desert oaks to capture the whisper of the wind. We had to shift down to 4WD three times to cross flooded patches, and the car got extremely dirty (a point of pride) but we reached Kata Tjuta in time for a big walk through the Valley Of the Winds.
It was the perfect ending to an extraordinary week. We were alone on the track and walked deep into Kata Tjuta, over the conglomerate rocks, between huge red mounds, yoni marks in the rock, a solitary crow calling us on to the second look-out where we saw the distant red rock hills between the height of the giant pass. We sat quiet and totally still for ages, letting the silence wash over us, deepen thoughts and bringing such calm and a sense that time was forever and humans couldn’t do anything in our silly, scurrying, surface fashion to upset the profound place of being that we were in.
When we got back the sun was nearly set, hanging like a blood red fiery plum under a cloud. We drove in silence past Uluru, purple in the evening light, and went into the other world of Yalara. Our adventure was over.
Read Adventures in the desert – part I here.