Polyglot’s October e-news

Cats and Ants and Boats – oh my!

Spring is springing in Melbourne, and we are smack-bang in the middle of a very busy period for Polyglot!

We had a fabulous time at Melbourne Zoo with Cat City in the first week of the school holidays. Children and their families created their own ‘haute cature’ cat characters (lots of paper ears and whiskers!) and ventured into an exciting cardboard world just for cats. Filled with cardboard boxes to tip over, tunnels to crawl through, giant elastic cat toys and bells to bat, an enormous can of tuna and even pyramids fit for Cleocatra, it was ‘purrfect’ family fun for a long weekend. Cat City was developed by Polyglot to promote the Zoos Victoria community conservation program, Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife and the team enjoyed being back in the Leopard Lodge next to the lions!

In the second week of the school holidays, our Ants made their way to Healesville Sanctuary, where the show was presented as part of the school holiday Bushland Explorers program. Children and their adults engaged with our Ants over six days, helping them to stack and arrange their crumbs. Check out some photos from our season at Healesville Sanctuary here.

Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) voyaged to Singapore last week, where it was presented by the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay as part of its annual Octoburst! children’s festival. We were very honoured that the Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC, made a special visit to Singapore to see the show and hosted a reception to celebrate the creative connections between Australia and Singapore. Earlier in the week, Polyglot artist Emily Tomlins and Papermoon’s Pambo Priyojati delivered a professional development workshop for Singaporean artists. Joyful Disruption – Child Participation in Creative Processes introduced participants to Polyglot’s philosophy and process of child-led creation. To celebrate the Singapore premiere of Cerita Anak (Child’s Story), Sue Giles shared some insights into the making of the show – read this here.

In Melbourne, Voice Lab attended Little Day Out – the headline event of the City of Greater Dandenong’s annual Children’s Festival. Voice Lab was supported by Mission Australia’s Dandenong Communities for Children (CfC), and spoke to local children about their hopes and dreams for the future.

Later this month, we’re looking forward to sailing our Boats all the way to San Diego for La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival. And at the end of October, a new Polyglot work will be presented at Wyndham City Children’s Week PicnicWild Heads. Powered by their imaginations and clever hands, children and their families will use natural materials to construct fantastical wearable art. Make, create and take a photo – these creatures have never been seen out of the Wild…

Ants at Healesville Sanctuary

“It was amazing. So beautiful. My kids were totally engaged for the entire time. And I had the privilege of watching my kids IN the performance. They even stayed behind when the Ants left to stack the crumbs back into piles. Thank you so much.”

In the second week of the school holidays, our Ants made their way to Healesville Sanctuary, where the show was presented as part of the school holiday Bushland Explorers program. Lots of children and their adults engaged with our Ants over six days, helping them to stack and arrange their crumbs amongst the lush green trees and lawns.

Cerita Anak (Child’s Story)

In celebration of the Singapore premiere of Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay for Octoburst!, Sue Giles shared some insights into the making of the show, which was co-created by Polyglot Theatre and Papermoon Puppet Theatre of Indonesia.

We were inspired to create Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) by the communities we worked with. Ria of Papermoon Puppet Theatre had a burning desire to work with the children in Lasem in Java, where, during WWII, the community had taken action against invasion by sinking all their boats and destroying their shipbuilding industry so it couldn’t be used against them. This idea of community action and sacrifice led us to the idea of sacrifice generally, and specifically, what a parent will do to ensure the safety of their child. We loved the idea of setting an adventure on a boat because we were coming from two island nations and also nations where immigration has shaped our cultures.

The Lasem story is woven through the whole of Cerita Anak (Child’s Story), through image, song and sound, through the achingly beautiful scene under water when the children play with a hundred sunken paper boats.

It was during our development in Melbourne that we found a specific narrative – the personal story of a small boy’s arrival in Australia and the danger he and his auntie encountered on the way. Because the work is non-verbal, image-based storytelling, the boy’s story became the structure of the work – we tried to re-live the journey through action. Our audience plays on the sands, encounters danger and has to flee, goes to sea in a boat, breaks down in the middle of the ocean, encounters a storm, and finally is rescued and taken to a welcoming new home. We wanted the work to have hope and the vision of a friendlier, more compassionate world, instead of the more common refugee experience.

Our rehearsal was all about play, finding game structures and instigations for children’s physical exploration and fun. We experimented in Lasem with all sorts of offers – like making a huge sheet with holes cut in it and seeing what happened, playing with big swathes of silk and seeing what the children did, what shapes they made, what they imagined. We made paper boats and told stories, we experimented with shadow and light, always with children at the heart of the exploration. With kids as part of the process you find out a million important things in a very short time. Play and imagination is easy for children and once they start an adventure they simply want to keep going. We were also driven by a desire to make beauty as well as the fun – to create a really strong atmosphere that held the emotions and danger of the journey together. We wanted our audience to feel the swings between joyful fun and apprehension.

In a world where concerns for safety have clamped down on physical freedom for children, especially in public space, live immersive theatre offers the child direct engagement with the sensory world, involvement in drama as a participant, and the ability to make a contribution to action. It’s pretty powerful stuff and being in the middle of things is the natural place for many children. When theatre is shown to very young children they often wish to move closer and closer to the centre, edging onto the stage. Immersive theatre allows them a vital place in the work. Even watching this from the outside, the child is aware of the ‘realness’ of the experience – connecting with other people’s faces and emotions. Sharing space with others creates enormous energy – live theatre provides a strong feeling in a ritual space, where senses are heightened and aware and everything becomes infused with meaning.

Photographs courtesy of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

5678 Film Club

In our last e-news, we shared one of the biggest projects ever undertaken by 5678 Film ClubTHE BOX. This month, we’re sharing its epic sequel – Beyond The Box.

When ‘The Box’ falls into the wrong hands, the young travellers must band together to protect and reclaim its powers…

Beyond The Box was created in Term 3 of 2017. The participants worked with filmmaker Hayden Gregory to bring their vision to life, and the film features special guest, St Joseph’s teacher Mr Jon Cartwright.