Voice Lab e-news – July

A Voice Lab production photo. A child with long red hair, in a yellow jumper and blue jeans, sits in a white domed structure. She wears an interesting, embellished set of white headphones, which are connected to the roof with a long white cord. There is a bright pink circle on the left of the image with the words 'Polyglot Theatre Voice Lab E News' in white san serif font.

“This is a really amazing experience that almost feels like it’s come to me in my dreams. It’s really cool and I think this is really important for more kids to do.” Child, 12 years old

Friday 16 July 2021

Victoria re-entered lockdown last night, and Polyglot’s thoughts are with everyone here and around the world who is affected by COVID-19. We look forward to connecting with communities again when it is safe to do so.

The Polyglot team has been busy making some important COVID-safe changes to Voice Lab, our unique creative installation module for collecting the thoughts and opinions of children. Voice Lab encourages reflective thought and the articulation of opinions and feelings. It is curious and pays close attention to what children think, feel and say, enabling their ideas to be shared to make positive change.

Voice Lab operates in two modes: the original physical mode and the newly-developed online version.

Physical Mode
In the physical mode, children are invited one at a time into a beautifully designed, serene dome – entirely alone. In this space they have a conversation with Voice Lab – a voice driven by a concealed live performer that asks questions, encourages opinion and regards the child as the expert.

In order for the physical mode to return to communities, we have made a number of COVID-safe updates:

  • New vinyl flooring that can be wiped between sessions
  • Multiple cloth floor coverings that can be swapped out when sessions end
  • Soft crown replaced with new headset that can be wiped between each session and is worn like headphones, rather than covering the whole head
  • New air conditioning system that provides air flow through the space that the participant occupies
  • New corflute door to the dome that lifts away for entering and exiting and can be wiped between sessions. It also allows for better air-flow than the original door

Online Mode
While the beloved dome was temporarily out of action due to the lockdowns, Voice Lab’s online module allowed us to engage with many children throughout Victoria during the COVID crisis and has also enabled us to reach a broader community of children, both nationally and internationally.

For organisations, schools and communities using the online mode, we have created a lightweight, pop-up inflatable space that can be easily couriered from our headquarters in Abbotsford, VIC. It is quick and easy to set up – you simply unroll it, plug it in, and put a laptop inside. It has been designed to imbue the Voice Lab online experience with the otherworldliness and magic that the original dome offers. Children enter the pop-up space one at a time, and their conversation with Voice Lab takes place via Zoom through the laptop.

A Voice Lab online production photo. A small, white, inflated tent-like structure, set up on a grey rug on a wooden floor. There is wooden seating around it, with green plants on the left, and cushions visible on the right. A Voice Lab online production photo. A child with dark hair and glasses, wearing a yellow jumper and black pants, is sitting cross-legged, looking at a grey and black laptop, that has a blue rectangle with a red circle visible on its screen.

Latest news

Earlier this month, the Voice Lab dome had its first outing since February 2020. On Saturday 10th July, Voice Lab visited Satellite Foundation, where it spoke to 13 children about their lives, and about the Satellite programs in which they have been involved.

Voice Lab: If your voice could be heard by the whole world, what would you say?
Child: Understand that everyone around you could be a hero if they were seen in a particular light. Every single person.

This week, Voice Lab online was due to start work with the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, South Africa. Set up in a caravan in the Village Green, Voice Lab online was going to talk to children about life in their community. A local South African artist was to facilitate in Makhanda, with the Polyglot team operating Voice Lab remotely from their homes in Melbourne. Unfortunately, due to a Stage 4 lockdown in South Africa, we were unable to go ahead. We are thinking of our South African friends and colleagues as they navigate the hurdles of lockdown, and are hopeful that our work with them can be re-scheduled. 

And later this month, the Voice Lab dome is planning to head to regional Victoria to work with Communities for Children – Bendigo, talking to local children from an early learning centre and primary school. The questions will be based on friends and family, and how to make their community a great place for children.
We are currently taking bookings for the remainder of this year and early 2022. If you are interested in discussing ways to use Voice Lab in your organisation, school, consultation or program, please contact:
Lexie Wood, Project Manager – Voice Lab