Polyglot’s Aug/Sep e-news

2018 photo of children outside with radio microphones

Adventures far away and close to home

August has been a happy month for Polyglot as we settle into our gorgeous new home at Abbotsford Convent and get to know our neighbours.

Excitingly, Cerita Anak (Child’s Story), the remarkable boat voyage that we crafted with Papermoon Puppet Theatre, will be presented at OzAsia Festival in Adelaide in November, and has been selected for the competitive IPAY Showcase in Philadelphia in January 2019. We look forward to introducing this special work to new audiences.

Closer to home, Hear Me Roar and Voice Lab are appearing as part of Melbourne Fringe’s XS Program – a new program of experimental performance and live art for children! Hear Me Roar is our first collaboration with the award-winning company Elbow Room, and the project explores the pervasive power of stereotypes on children. Two showings will be held at Abbotsford Convent on Monday 24 September at 4pm and 6pm. Tickets are $10 and very limited – book here. Voice Lab is an immersive, interactive experience that invites children one at a time to enter a uniquely intelligent space and share their unmediated opinions. It will be at ArtPlay on 26-27 September, 12pm-4pm. FREE entry. More information is available here.

We celebrated the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week by sharing some of our favourite childhood stories that reflect the 2018 theme ‘Find Your Treasure’. With authors from Alison Lester to Robert Louis Stevenson, the concept of finding treasure was interpreted in very different ways by the Polyglot team. Read more here.

And the school holidays are just around the corner! We thought we’d put together some of our favourite places in Melbourne for interactive fun for kids and families. From museums to playgrounds, there’s something for everyone. Read it here.

Stage and Production Managers
Do you have what it takes to join the Polyglot team? Polyglot Theatre is currently inviting expressions of interest from experienced Stage and Production Managers for future employment opportunities with us, including touring, creative developments, new productions and community projects. For more information and to submit your EOI, click here.

2018 ASSITEJ International Artistic Gathering
Artistic Director Sue Giles and Executive Director Viv Rosman travelled to Beijing for the 2018 ASSITEJ International Artistic Gathering. Artists working in the Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) sector around the world were invited to discover, exchange and explore the theme ‘Imagining The Future’. ASSITEJ is the global association of people who work in the TYA sector, and members come from over 90 countries across six continents. As one of the Vice Presidents of ASSITEJ International, Sue led the delegation of Australians, and was involved in business meetings with her Committee colleagues.

Our core artists Mischa Long and Stefanie Robinson also attended the Artistic Gathering. They presented a professional development workshop for artists about creating theatrical spaces for children with disability and neuro-diversity. Sue wrote, “One of the key focus areas of the [2018 ASSITEJ] event is inclusivity; an ever-growing area of great importance for all of us. Where access is not granted, children are denied the experience of others. When inclusion is at the basis of everything you do, the modes of creation are shifted and expanded. Inclusion is deeply influential in the way we can imagine our future.”

First On The Ladder
First On The Ladder has been kicking goals in Shepparton and Moree. On a very special NAIDOC Shield game day on 14 July, First On The Ladder joined the Moree Boomerangs RLFC and Beyond Empathy to celebrate the amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community. The art and play workshops were in full swing, Boomerangs Broadcasting Corporation was live on the airwaves, and participants took to the ground before each game to wave their Aboriginal flags high and proud and welcome the teams onto the field.

The following weekend, First On The Ladder celebrated the Unity Cup with Rumbalara Football Netball Club. There was a special outdoor Rumba Radio broadcast, Kids’ Gallery wall and roving performances and activities at the netball courts and footy oval. At the start of the day, the First On The Ladder team walked with the women of the club to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing work, passion, dedication and warmth these women pour into community. It has been an honour to work with the ladies of Rumba – from the mothers, sisters, Aunties, ladies in the canteen, and especially Kylie Briggs and Belinda Briggs who have been by our side throughout the whole project.

First On The Ladder has also released its first podcast! Grab your headphones and listen in here. It’s an exceptional insight into these two significant and influential clubs and the First On The Ladder project, which we deliver with our friends Beyond Empathy. A big thanks to everyone involved for sharing their stories.

School workshops
Keen to bring some Polyglot fun into your classroom? We offer school workshops perfect for all ages – kindergarten through to VCE drama. In 2017, we presented 172 workshops and 2 school residencies, engaging over 3000 children. If you are interested in a Polyglot Theatre school workshop for your class, visit our website.

Mapping Polyglot’s travels

2008 photo of girl in rainbow costume

In our 40th birthday year, we have been exploring the Polyglot archives, finding pictures of performances and tours Polyglot has taken around the world. These stories are fabulous historical treasures, so together with our friends at Studio Binocular and Orasy, we have created an online Story Map to share them with everyone. Can you remember your first Polyglot experience? Which one of our shows or workshops has been your favourite? Help create our rich tapestry of Polyglot magic by adding your own story and photos to the map here.

To spark your memories, we thought we’d take a look at some of the archival treasures that we’ve posted to the map.

New cultural puppet show
The Age, 1977
Australian and migrant school children stand to gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures through an innovation theatre idea being developed by the Creative School Holiday Club. 
Mrs. Naomi Tippett, the creative director responsible for the idea, described it as a mobile multi-lingual puppet theatre. Mrs. Tippett, a potter, who also teaches art at Carey Baptist Grammar School, said the plan for the theatre emerged from another project which did not eventuate. “The Creative School Holiday Club was given a grant by the Theatre Board to bring out an English puppeteer,” she said. “The visit didn’t eventuate so we got permission to use the $3000 to establish a theatre.”
Read the full story here

Children’s puppet theatre bound for first overseas tour
The Australian Jewish News, 1995
Polyglot administrator Naomi Tippett, who helped establish the company in 1978, said there was a vast international audience for puppet shows, which easily overcame any language barriers. “The two shows we will be taking to Taiwan – Almost A Dinosaur and Tadpole – are Australian in content but carry a universal message which can be easily understood by other cultures,” she said. “We hope this tour is the first of many in the region.”
Read the full story here

Kids Rule – Polyglot at Fed Square
The Weekly Review, 2013
“We’re opening up Federation Square with a series of different ways of seeing and getting around the space, which will all be led by kids,” says Giles. “One of the things we really love to explore in public space is the idea of children being allowed to have control. Part of this is about trying to make a real adventure so that kids can just go for it, rather than being told not to touch, not to go, not to do.”
Read the full story here

We’d love to see more stories from all the people who have experienced our work over the years, from our puppet shows in schools to our immense Play Space installations that have toured the world. It’s easy-peasy to share a story and/or images – check it out here.

Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week

Photograph of child reading a book

We celebrated the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week by sharing some of our favourite childhood stories that reflect the 2018 theme ‘find your treasure’. With authors from Alison Lester to Robert Louis Stevenson, the concept of finding treasure was interpreted in very different ways by the Polyglot team.

Kath Fyffe, General Manager
“Roald Dahl plants many a treasure in his books. I remember when I was about six or seven my dad was doing further study, and he got up really early to fit it in. My sisters and I used to take the signal of lights being on to hop up and ask him to read to us. We’d climb up onto his lap, snuggle into the white woolly jumper he always had on, and settle in for some Danny the Champion of the World. Here we’d delight in tales of fire-lantern-making mischief, pheasant hunting and the outsmarting of bullies. We could almost taste the Cox’s Orange Pippin apples Danny and his dad ate while they sat on the steps of their caravan. In hindsight I think the real treasure was not to be found in the words he was reading, but the daily investment in our imaginations, and the way reading together made us feel so loved.

Fast forward a couple of decades and my partner is now reading to our kids (who are eight and four) The Princess Bride. His rendering of the voices of each character are freakishly true to the film version due to his love of the film as a child, and helped by the fact he makes a living as a performer. Last night’s treasure: hearing their cackles at Vizzini’s “inconceivable!” and description of Westley’s climb up the Cliffs Of Insanity.”

Erica Heller-Wagner, Communications Coordinator
One of my favourite picture books as a child was Magic Beach by Alison Lester. I loved how it illustrated all the very best things to do at your favourite beach. We spent a lot of time at beaches when I was little, it was where my mum and dad were happiest. So many of my childhood memories feature sun and sand and crashing waves. When I think about finding treasure, I remember all the time we spent at beaches, playing and exploring, and collecting smooth sea glass for the big jar we had at home. Sometimes treasure comes in a big leather-bound chest (like in Magic Beach) and sometimes it comes as precious family moments in a beloved and beautiful place.”

Sue Giles, Artistic Director
“A few years ago I picked up a copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – a book I’d had around when I was a child but found completely uninteresting because of its old fashioned language which seemed to have very little to do with words as I understood them. This time I found I couldn’t put it down – a swashbuckling tale of narrow escapes and stowaways, of the terrifying figure of Long John Silver, the plucky Jim Hawkins and the unforgettable Billy Bones. Wonderful, piratical names and all served up with a rich tang of the sea. It made me realise again how much writing for children has changed, how tales such as Treasure Island are considered too hard, too complicated or boring for the young reader, and that what was considered a stirring and exciting tale for young people just doesn’t cut it for the child of today. Have our brains changed? Or our expectations?

Viv Rosman, Executive Director
“It’s a slight thematic stretch, but I bought the picture book Good Night New York City in New York for my baby niece a couple of years ago and it’s remained one of her favourites. It’s a colourful collection of NYC’s greatest treasures – Central Park, The New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Basically, it captures all the treasures of NYC – a city I love – in one gorgeous little book. It may not have been designed with this in mind, but you could use Good Night New York City as a travel guide and feel quite satisfied about ticking off the major treasures. I hope it will inspire my niece’s travel adventures in the future!”

Lexie Wood, Company Administrator and Voice Lab project manager
“My favourite book as a child was Where the Wild Things Are. I adored sailing off through night and day with Max and discovering the strange world of the Wild Things, and partying all night at the Wild Rumpus, and thinking of home as the sun rose and the Wild Things dozed all around. It was hard every time Max decided to leave the Wild Things but I was always relieved to get back to his warm and cosy room. My battered and falling apart childhood copy, with the words ‘bom, bom, bom’ scrawled in texta across the full moon under which the Wild Rumpus starts, now sits cherished on my bookshelf next to the pristine hard cover copy my sister gave me in my twenties. I still adore the book and its exquisite drawings and can recite it by heart. The adventure of travelling far away across the ocean and discovering such treasures as these Wild Things that love you more than anything is brilliant! But getting home, especially to a supper that is still hot, is pretty brilliant too.”

Lulu, age 8 (nearly 9)
The Orchard Underground is a story with a treasure. The treasure is hard to choose because there are two of them. I love this book a lot. It is a very exciting and cool book. The author of this book is a parent at my school. I wrote to the author and now we send emails to each other.”

Tirese Ballard, Artist
“I remember how exciting it was to imagine the bear family (in The Big Honey Hunt by Stan Berenstain) living in a tree, because I was fascinated with climbing trees as a child. I loved the physical challenge and sense of adventure and discovery. The searching and exploring in this story and the absolute joy with which the bears follow their nose and follow their curiosity mirrored the feeling of my own experience of play.

It is no surprise that this should be such a valued element of Polyglot’s work with children – to follow children’s desire lines. Look where it can take you!”

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

Interactive fun for kids in Melbourne!

Polyglot is thrilled to have two projects presented as part of the 2018 Melbourne Fringe.

  • Hear Me Roar – work-in-progress
    Following a creative development period, Polyglot and the award-winning Elbow Room bring you a work-in-progress showing of their first collaboration – Hear Me Roar. The project explores the pervasive power of stereotypes on children. Presented in partnership with Melbourne Fringe, this special showing for children aged 8-12 and their adults is your chance to influence the outcome of the project, and maybe even the title… Read more here.
  • Voice Lab
    Voice Lab is an immersive, interactive experience that invites children one at a time to enter a uniquely intelligent space and share their unmediated opinions. Resting in the space is a soft crown, and when the children put it on they hear a voice – it is Voice Lab. By asking questions and regarding the child as the expert, Voice Lab encourages reflective thought and the articulation of opinions and feelings. Through Voice Lab, all children gain the power to be heard, to contribute and to affect the status quo. Experience for children 4 – 12. Read more here.
  • For other family-friendly work at the Melbourne Fringe, check out the XS Guide – the brand-new performance program of experimental, contemporary and live art for children aged up to 12 years. 

We are also looking forward to being at the Cranbourne Gardens!

  • Paper Planet
    Let your imagination run wild in this planet made of paper and natural materials from the Gardens. Enliven the space with your creatures and critters, vines and flowers, costumes and constructions. During this installation, participants are invited to continually add to the forest and build whole communities. Theatre and play merge as children discover an imaginative world for adventures in this forest of their own making. Paper Planet is an experience that all ages will find inspiring and utterly blissful. Read more here.

If you’re needing more inspiration, we’ve put together a handy list of some of our go-tos in Melbourne for interactive family fun

  • ACMI Family Sundays: fun and free family activities on the first Sunday of every month. 
  • ArtPlay: there’s LOADS of fun stuff happening at ArtPlay!
  • Arts Centre Melbourne – The Children’s Party Think Tank sessions: Arts and culture collide in this series of workshops for passionate young people with ideas. In a heady mix of political content and artistic forms, participants will respond to exciting provocations to work out their stance on hot topic issues. What is the role of the young person in shaping our world? What do you have to offer as a child? Can citizenship start now?
  • Circus Oz: check out their holiday and Term 4 classes for children aged 6-12 years, with options for beginners through to those more advanced.
  • Collingwood Children’s Farm: say ‘hay’ to our new ‘neigh’-bours!
  • Convent Kids: An exciting new program developed by the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) for children and families to explore and create art together. Developed in collaboration with leading artists, Convent Kids offers a range of fun hands-on activities that will inspire children and their families to experiment, learn and make art together.
  • 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
  • Melbourne Museum – The Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery: A wondrous place for babies to 5-year-olds to explore, play and learn. Museum Playdates: Come and play with the Museum’s newest program for 2 to 5 year olds.
  • MPavilion: open to the public from 9 October 2018 – 3 February 2019, the MPavilion program is coming soon! Keep an eye on their website.
  • Playgrounds: TimeOut has put in lots of work to compile this list of Melbourne’s best playgrounds (there were a LOT of swings and slides to thoroughly test). Use it to plan your next weekend adventure.
  • St Martins Youth Arts Centre – Term 4 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 and 9-12 years