Polyglot Theatre is honoured to have the opportunity to return to Japan later this month, delivering a professional development workshop for Japanese artists and a community cultural engagement project in the town of Minamisanriku.
Core artists Mischa Long and Stefanie Robinson are presenting 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 will be 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 will create an immersive space together, exploring the different potentials of response from children with complex needs.
Polyglot Theatre is then touring to Minamisanriku – 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 is presenting two public performances of Paper Planet, and Paper Planet workshops in all five Minamisanriku elementary schools (Shizugawa, Tokura, Iriya, Isatomae and Natari Elementary Schools) for students in Years 1 and 2.
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 (a method of visual storytelling) 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.
Polyglot has considerable experience in coordinating and delivering international creative projects. The company has toured extensively to countries including Korea, Singapore, China, Denmark and Germany, and across the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
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 Minamisanriku, 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.’
Polyglot has also delivered projects with Afghani refugees in Shepparton (Victoria), and with refugee and newly-arrived children in inner-city Collingwood and the western suburb of Braybrook in Melbourne. In 2017, the company completed the first year of a three-year arts-meets-sport project – First On The Ladder – in partnership with Indigenous football clubs in regional Victoria and New South Wales.
Through the delivery of these projects, Polyglot has successfully achieved a genuine artistic exchange between Australian and international artists, and developed a sophisticated understanding of its capacity and offerings in an international context.
Regarding the company’s 2018 tour to Japan, Executive Director Viv Rosman writes, “It is an honour to be returning to Japan, and we are thrilled to be visiting Minamisanriku for the fourth time with one of our most popular Play Space works. Polyglot is proud to support Australia’s warm relationship with Japan through our creative engagement with children and their communities. Each project we have delivered in the region has been hugely rewarding, and we look forward to connecting with friends both old and new in Japan.”
Polyglot’s tour to Japan is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.