We’re in the final months of 2018, but Polyglot is definitely not slowing down!
In early September, core Polyglot artists Dan Goronszy and David Pidd travelled to Singapore to present a two-week residency at United World College South East Asia. The school engages an international company each year to work with the drama students and introduce them to a range of theatre practices from around the world. The school approached Polyglot this year as the two organisations share a very similar philosophy to working with children. We’re delighted to include some of the highlights from the residency in this e-news – read it here.
In the first week of the school holidays, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria presented Paper Planet at Cranbourne Gardens. The cardboard trees took root in the Visitors’ Centre, and the paper leaves unfurled as children and their adults delighted in creating and exploring a fantastical world. Polyglot artists Mischa Long, Sylvie Meltzer and Ashlee Hughes, who facilitated the magic, shared some of their experiences and insights from the five-day season. Read the story here.
The beginning of October saw us working with our excellent neighbours Kids’ Own Publishing. Their popular ‘Books With Friends’ workshop series was presented by Abbotsford Convent as part of the Convent Kids program. The Oratory was transformed into The Grand Imaginarium, where children aged 5-10 collaborated with guest artists, and then turned their creations into their very own books. Participants enjoyed a Polyglot Paper and Tape workshop with our artist Nick Barlow as part of this fantastic event.
Our Ants made their way to Wagga Wagga in NSW for Spring Jam – a new children’s festival that combined circus acts, adventure play, interactive fun, live entertainment, safaris, treats and more. We were delighted to have our work presented at its inaugural appearance. A young audience member even surprised us with special ziplock bags of crumbs that he’d especially brought from home! The Ants then returned to Melbourne for the City of Stonnington’s Spring Into Gardening event at Victoria Gardens in Prahran.
We’re excited to be returning to Wagga Wagga this week, where Sound of Drawing will be presented as part of FUSION18 – the city’s biggest outdoor live music festival. The following week Tangle will stretch and spring into being at the Wyndham City Children’s Week Picnic in Werribee.
And then we sail into Adelaide with Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) for OzAsia Festival in the first week of November! “Our audiences have embraced this show on such a deep level. That’s probably the stand-out for me – the involvement of both children and adults in the journey we invite them on, and the different effect this journey has on both. There is so much emotion and investment in this show, and so many important conversations that come out of it each time we perform.” Emily Tomlins, Polyglot artist. We are so excited to share this extraordinary, immersive boat journey with our South Australian friends – to book your tickets, click here.
We’re looking forward to a busy and productive couple of months to ring in the end of a big year – thanks for joining us for 2018 so far.
Photograph: Mark Gambino for Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
In early September, core Polyglot artists Dan Goronszy and David Pidd travelled to Singapore to present a two-week residency at United World College South East Asia. The school engages an international company each year to work with the drama students and introduce them to a range of theatre practices from around the world. This then informs all performance-making activities for the rest of the semester. The school approached Polyglot this year as the two organisations share a very similar philosophy to working with children. The residency focused on how Polyglot creates its unique work, and Dan and David developed a series of targeted performance-making workshops based on Polyglot’s Paper and Tape and Theatre Craft models, their own practice, and the Drama curriculum of the school.
Prior to the residency commencing, David wrote, “We are very excited to be given this opportunity. It gives us time and space to forensically explore the Polyglot workshop structure. To be taking a series of workshops, three to four a day, over two weeks, gives us as artists a chance to hone our craft. Similar to the run of a theatre show, we know we have the chance to improve as facilitators and also evolve our processes. We can’t wait to see how the students respond.”
Below are some excerpts from the workshop reports that Dan and David completed each day.
“We are totally satisfied and exhilarated that the plan we made eventuated in an amazing workshop. There are so many things we could talk about. It was magic! Moment after moment of committed work from the students, committed to the tasks we asked of them.
The highlight was when we asked the students to devise something with all that we’ve done with them, they ended up using the exact process we had worked with together over the two workshops. They used material to create a moment. They showed us that moment. Then we took the material away from them (they were not entirely happy about this) and asked them to repeat as if the material was still there. What transpired from this was absolute gold. The whole room was thrilled.”
Big Bang: the performers asked the audience to sit in a tight bunch in the middle of the space. We had our eyes closed. When we opened our eyes they had surrounded us and threw paper all over us, and then circled us with spheres in their hands.
A girl wrapped in Tangle, exploring the material. Once the Tangle was removed the instruction was to continue as if it was there. It was riveting to watch her.”
Specific techniques that worked
“Reminding the students to chase the joy.
Reminding them to notice what feels good.
Allow the material to become the hero.
Resist the narrative.
Tape the pieces together.
Splitting them into director/observer and explorer/performer has worked a treat.”
“One group made a giant puppet that was bigger than them and it’s the first time since we have been here that anyone worked that big. It was delightful for us… When we asked the puppets to move as if they were in love, the students all made love sound effects with their voices.”
“The final group’s performance had all of the staging elements that we were trying to teach them. They had clearly listened and were on the spot adjusting what they were doing so as not to block the audience with their bodies. They flew their dragon puppet around the whole stage before bringing it into the action. The final image was one puppet left on stage, which landed and then let out a big sigh. Which we loved.
“I loved acting the picture.”
“The collaborative drawing was beautiful. Children saw a tornado, and a mountain with fire coming out, in the drawing.
The teacher’s presence in the room. The house made of chairs. The slow falling death of a puppet. The creature that just died. The flying puppet that slowly flew around the stage.
The alien standing by itself on stage, was so alive and breathing with small gestures from its hands. They organized their bodies really well as it was happening, so were responding to instruction to shift, which was challenging.”
Photos courtesy of United World College South East Asia
During the recent school holidays, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria presented Paper Planet at Cranbourne Gardens. The cardboard trees took root in the Visitor’s Centre, and the paper leaves unfurled as children and their adults delighted in creating and exploring a fantastical world. We spoke to some of the Polyglot artists who facilitated the magic – we’ve shared their words below with some of Mark Gambino’s fabulous photos.
“Polyglot is lucky to be presenting Paper Planet at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne this week, in a room overlooking the red earth and native plants of the Australian garden. As a backdrop, it’s perfect, plus for the first time, cuttings from REAL plants have been introduced to the materials the show is built around. This has meant that kids (and adults) are making paper costumes and adding sprigs of leaves to them, making head-pieces, adding them to wings and to the creatures they create. It gives the show a lift, both visually (I keep thinking of forest sprites and bush fairies) and also with the beautiful smells they add to the space. Paper Planet smells like a real forest! The Cranbourne Gardens is a remarkable place with beautifully conceived spaces to walk and appreciate nature and landscape, and we have added our own little world to it. Some of our participants are coming for the show, but others are coming to see the Gardens and then discovering us as they walk by. This has meant that a whole new group of people have discovered Polyglot’s work and the magic of Paper Planet.” Mischa Long
“Oh I wish that it would snow,” said the little paper fairy holding a cardboard wish chip standing underneath the cardboard trees draped in paper vines, camouflaged paper snakes and a paper peacock with a fresh native foliage tail.
And then it snowed. Flakes of crepe paper and bits of beautiful scraps rained down from the ceiling like magic. The dragon in the forest made it happen and it was as real as the world around us – the truest type of pure, uninterrupted imagination.
I have been involved in children’s theatre for many years but never have I lived in such a world as Paper Planet. It was my first season as an artist with this incredible project and as each day unfolded so did a new adventure. The air was filled with the smell of eucalyptus, the forest grew, the creatures came, stories were told, treasure maps were followed, caves were constructed, storms brought us together and giant never-ending marshmallows were cooked on top a communal campfire.
There is a dreamlike quality to being a Polyglot artist because it’s so hard to believe that it is work. I could have stayed in Paper Planet until the masking tape on my paper wings fell off. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to create and play with such amazing people (including all those who ventured into the world) – it’s like being part of a chapter book that is being written exactly at the same time it’s being lived.” Sylvie Meltzer
“Each morning we had lovely freshly cut plant life delivered to us by the amazing gardens team. The addition of real plants into our paper world added a splash of colour and most surprisingly a “smellscape”. When you walked in, you could smell fresh eucalypt and lemon-scented gums from the Australian native plants. Combined with bird sounds, forest noises, and the music of Paper Planet, it was a peaceful and creative space.
To inhabit the forest, we had children becoming forest fairies, wolves, snakes, turtles, dragons, dinosaurs, birds, rainbow lorikeet queens, invisible tree boys and spider web ninjas. They also created cubbies and other animals.
One child – ‘Turtle Girl’ – loved the space so much that she returned every day with her mum, to explore new games and stories, and make new costumes and creations to add to the growing forest. It was great to see her enter each day with a new idea she had excitedly been thinking up since the day before.
“Who let Wolf Boy into the forest?” Someone asked, and another child replied dramatically, “It was Caterpillar Girl!” “Caterpillar Girl? Let’s turn her into a moth!” So we did. Which involved some wrapping in paper, emerging from a paper cocoon, and some paper moth wings.” Ashlee Hughes
Paper Planet photography: Mark Gambino for Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Have you explored the Polyglot Theatre Story Map? Over our 40 years, we have travelled the world, bringing joy and creativity to children everywhere. To celebrate our big birthday, we’re asking YOU – our fabulous audience members, supporters and friends from around the globe – to share your favourite Polyglot stories! We’re building a collection of memories and photos as a way to remember our history while we forge ahead into the next 40 years.
Below is an excerpt from a story by one of our artists, Tirese Ballard.
“In 2015 We Built This City went to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The show was set up outside in the sweltering heat on the grounds of New York University which is surrounded by flat expansive desert sand. Expats from all around the world and local Emirates children and their families visited. Children from the north, south, east and west of this big wide world speaking their first and second or third language of English delved into the cardboard box world. They built cubbies, towers, tunnels, alleys, and imaginative play spaces amidst a sprawl of hundreds and hundreds of boxes. There was squealing and laughter and passionate negotiation between siblings, friends and adults as boxes were randomly placed or considerately assigned to build the compelling and mysterious city of their imaginations.”
Read Tirese’s full story, explore our Story Map and add your own story here.