September, like nearly every month at Polyglot, whizzed past in a flurry of packing suitcases and jet-setting, combined with the culmination of some special community projects closer to home.
Our team touched down in Singapore last Monday, and on Thursday 28 September, the tall trees of Paper Planet unfolded at the National Gallery Singapore for the Gallery’s first-ever Children’s Biennale. We spent four days with Singapore kids and families, filling our magical cardboard forest with fantastical creations. On Friday, Boats sails into Esplanade Theatres on the Bay for three sessions a day from 6-8 October. Singapore families, in their colourful vessels, will depart from the Esplanade Courtyard Green, navigating urban seascapes before returning safely back to harbor.
We are thrilled to be returning to China for the third time this year in late October. We Built This City is being presented in the country for the first time, as part of the Shanghai Interactive Festival of Theatre in Jiading. What we love about this Play Space work is that each child’s unique creations reflect the time and place of their immediate culture. What evolves in Shanghai will be entirely different to what has been created in Australia, Abu Dhabi or the United States of America.
As well as preparing for international tours, September was also a time for finales and farewells.
Our seven-week residency at Mahogany Rise Primary School – Altogether – came to a spectacular close on Friday 15 September. Altogether was presented as a film with live performance for parents, teachers, students and Polyglot staff. Polyglot and Mahogany Rise have enjoyed a seven year relationship, with residencies of this type involving a whole generation of students from Prep to Year 6 over this time. Altogether was our final residency, and while it was a sad goodbye, we are excited to see what newly instated creative arts teacher Nathan Wilson will do with the students.
The 2017 achievements of 5678 Film Club were celebrated on Wednesday 20 September at the annual St Joseph’s Primary School red-carpet extravaganza, ‘Collywood’. All the films created this year were screened, amongst performances and speeches highlighting the different programs that are part of the school curriculum. A fabulous night out for all the students, teachers, parents, and Polyglot artists and staff!
After a successful and boisterous season, our art-meets-sport collaboration with Beyond Empathy, First On The Ladder, kicked its final goal for 2017. This three-year project centres around the young people from two Indigenous sports clubs – Rumbalara Football and Netball Club in Shepparton, Victoria and the Moree Boomerangs in New South Wales. It celebrates their culture and achievements through a range of creative experiences including zine-making, street art, radio broadcasting and play workshops.
And to our local friends – come and visit our Ants at Melbourne Museum in the last days of school holidays! Lots of busy Ant-work is happening each day at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm until this Sunday 8 October (no performance on Saturday 7 October). You can even make your own antennae! Tickets are included in Museum entry. A great school holiday adventure – find out more here.
(Photographer: Simone Ruggiero)
First On The Ladder is a three-year, art-meets-sport collaboration between Polyglot Theatre and Beyond Empathy, in partnership with Rumbalara Football and Netball Club in Shepparton, Victoria and the Moree Boomerangs in New South Wales. The project centres around the young people from these two Indigenous sports clubs – celebrating their culture and achievements through a range of creative experiences including zine-making, street art, radio broadcasting and play workshops.
After a boisterous and successful first year, the final goal has been kicked for the 2017 season of First On The Ladder. The project will re-commence in February next year for 2018.
In Shepparton, Melbourne artist Michael Fikaris and local Yorta Yorta artist Tammy-Lee Atkinson worked with participants on game days at the club to create zines, stickers and large-scale paste-ups that were displayed in community. Four editions of the zine Rumba were published, and 54 paste-ups were exhibited in laneways and on buildings. 13 community partners were involved in the project.
In Moree, local artists Janelle Boyd, Aunty Paula Duncan and Darlene Gillon, together with Project Coordinator Skyela Gillon, facilitated workshops at the Barwon Learning Centre post-game days to create paste-ups, zines and animations. Two editions of the zine Boom were published and 18 paste-ups were exhibited. 10 community partners were involved in the project.
Two radio stations, Rumba Radio in Shepparton and the BBC (Boomerangs Broadcast Corporation) in Moree – have been established. The radio broadcasts were facilitated by the Director of the project, Ian Pidd, to provide participants the opportunity to deliver live FM broadcasts on game days, building their skills in sports commentary, DJ-ing and audio production. Rumba Radio broadcast live three times, and BBC broadcast live five times. Broadcasts were also recorded and are available to listen to through spreaker.com.
Creative play workshops for younger children in each community saw participants harnessing their creativity through drawing activities, developing characters and storylines, and constructing sets (including a complete café), costumes, and parades of strange and wonderful creatures. There were six play workshops in Shepparton and three in Moree.
In total, over 150 young people were engaged in First On The Ladder, across 45 separate workshops in Shepparton and 24 separate workshops in Moree.
(Photographer: Simone Ruggiero)
Ian Pidd, Project Director, First On The Ladder
“First On The Ladder is such a joy to work on. These two sporting clubs are key institutions in their respective towns, and having the opportunity to collaborate with them, in such an open ended way, is a rare opportunity for all of the artists involved. The works we have created together so far are playful and grounded and have established a great connection between us all. The plans we have hatched for next year will build on those connections and reach out further into both communities in ways that we think will really turn heads. Watch this space!”
Chris Binge, Manager, Maayu Mali, Moree Aboriginal Residential Rehabilitation Service
“I think that First On The Ladder has been fantastic, and well received and accepted by the young people and community of Moree. I also think the relationship between this program and the Moree Boomerangs and future SHEA Academy will be one that forges new and exciting ground to create great outcomes for young people and their families, and positive change that is sustainable into the future.”
Belinda Briggs, Rumbalara Football and Netball Club
“Rumbalara Football and Netball Club has really enjoyed the first year of First On The Ladder. It has been exciting to watch our young people explore, express, discover and imagine through the project. In particular, the broadcasting exercise with Ian (Rumba Radio) was very popular, and the children were always looking forward to Ian’s return visits. First On The Ladder has added to the Club’s atmosphere on game day, intersecting nicely with sport, as well as the culture of Yorta Yorta people and families.”
Kim McConville, Executive Director, Beyond Empathy
“First On The Ladder is an exciting articulation of two arts companies combining their distinctive practice and unique areas of expertise to activate a new space for the expression of community and its inspired arts practice. The partnership draws on Polyglot’s ingenious practice in devising immersive children’s theatre experiences with Beyond Empathy’s expertise in community development, working with disenfranchised and First Nation communities to create a ground-breaking and compelling art meets sport collaboration.”
(Photographer: Simone Ruggiero)
Lucas Dental Care has generously supported Polyglot Theatre for seven years, and has been the sponsor of our School Workshop program for the last two. Our Development Manager Nami Nelson had a chat with Megan, PA and Practice Manager (pictured, right), to find out a bit more about the company that supports us to tour our workshops to so many schools!
Nami writes: “Megan has been with Lucas Dental Care for 19 years, and worked in their first practice. They now have 3 practices (Malvern, Bundoora and Mornington) and 25 staff. Dr James Lucas (pictured, left) started the practice with a vision to create excellence in paediatric services, which continues to this day.
The family-friendly nature of the team and business is one of Megan’s favourite things about the practice. Most of the staff have been there a long time which she loves, as she knows it gives continuity for the patients, and helps build trust. Lucas Dental Care prides itself on making the needs of children central to their service.
Lucas Dental Care began sponsoring Polyglot Theatre in 2010. They also sponsor the Melbourne Fringe Festival and like to support local children’s causes.
Over the years, Polyglot has given the company some memorable gifts including a puppet of Brutus the Crocodile who has become the face of Lucas Dental Care. Brutus started life as a character on the clinic waiting room’s stunning mural, painted by artist and illustrator Michael Salmon. He got his name from a three-year-old patient as part of a naming competition.
Lucas Dental Care chooses to sponsor Polyglot Theatre as our values align with Practice Owner James’ philosophy and philanthropic approach.
And Megan’s last word on dental health? “Make sure you brush and floss your teeth regularly!”
For more information about Lucas Dental Care. and to find the clinic closest to you, visit their website: lucasdentalcare.com.au
(Photographer: Theresa Harrison, 2015)
Polyglot Theatre has enjoyed a long touring history with Singapore, and is delighted to have taken Paper Planet and Boats to the region. This is the first time that either of these works has been performed in the country.
Paper Planet unfolded at the National Gallery Singapore on Thursday 28 September, and Boats sails into Octoburst! at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay on 6 October. It was Polyglot’s first tour to National Gallery Singapore, and Paper Planet was presented as part of its inaugural Gallery Children’s Biennale.
Paper Planet is now in its sixth year of touring, having been first commissioned by Federation Square in Melbourne in 2011. The work invites the audience to enter the space as participants, and build the paper world of their dreams. Over multiple sessions, the installation work grows as Polyglot Theatre performers interact with the space and participants; each group adding their own layer of magnificent paper creatures.
Boats was also commissioned by Federation Square in Melbourne, and premiered in 2015. Influenced by the children and communities of Javanese fishing villages, the work explores their ideas behind migration and adventure. Large and colourful vessels sit idle at a central mooring place until children, brimming with imagination and energy, board and set off on an adventure across urban seascapes. The lightweight boats are propelled by a flurry of feet, with children taking charge and working as a crew to find their own path and voyage across the ‘high seas’. The Asian premiere of Boats at Octoburst! at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay will be the first time that the show has been presented outside Australia.
Following two successful seasons of Paper Planet in China this year, Polyglot Theatre is taking We Built This City to Jiading, Shanghai in October. The work is appearing for the first time in China, presented by the Shanghai Interactive Festival of Theatre in Jiading.
We Built This City is one of Polyglot’s oldest, and most consistently popular, touring Play Space productions. It has been performed everywhere from Sao Paulo to Singapore, Abu Dhabi to the United States of America. The giant cardboard construction site involves the whole family in building the cities and towns of their dreams. Thousands of cardboard boxes take over the outdoor performance space, and each child’s unique creation reflects the time and place of their immediate culture. What evolves in Shanghai will be entirely different to Sydney. Polyglot artists roam the site, entertaining and engaging with kids building skyscrapers, tunnels and sprawling estates.
Paper Planet | National Gallery, Singapore | 28 September – 1 October
Boats | Octoburst! Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore | 6-8 October | Read more
We Built This City | Shanghai International Festival of Theatre in Jiading | 20-22 October | Read more