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2018/2019 Tour Dates
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“The veteran children’s troupe are masters of interactive play.”
–Paola Totaro, The Age, UK
“…their work encourages free artistic expression and an imaginative interpretation of the world.”
‘[We Built This City] is the most fun you can have in the entire world.’”
–Emma Sartori,The Bendigo Miner, Aus
We Built This City is an interactive cardboard construction site for families which celebrates absolute simplicity and the power of children’s imaginations. A giant public construction site, We Built This City uses thousands and thousands of cardboard boxes and the energy of kids and families to build a magnificent imagined city. Buildings go up, are pulled down, redesigned, extended, walked through and reconstructed before the whole thing is knocked down into a gloriously chaotic heap of cardboard rubble.
Underscored by a rocking soundtrack from an on-site DJ, the participants are guided by performers who play construction workers, facilitating free play, performing as hilarious characters and setting tasks which bring people together in unity. We Built This City simultaneously places children in the role of performer, creator, audience and architect. It is not a play… it is play. We Built This City is Polyglot’s most enduring work, touring continuously since its 2001 premiere. Over 30,000 children have participated in its many seasons, which include the Kennedy Center in Washington, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Awesome Festival Perth, Sydney Opera House, Esplanade Theatre Singapore, and Act3 Children’s Festival, always with critical and popular acclaim.
“I liked being with my buddies building my own world” – Simon, 6
“I liked the whole world of boxes.” – Violet, 4
Tangle is a huge, fun, totally interactive elastic weaving event, created live and on the spot by children and their families. It’s part spectacular live art, part performance, part playground and all chaos. Participants are each given a ball of soft elastic to weave around and through 24 tall slender golden poles. Strand by strand the kids create a dense multi-coloured landscape, tangled and interwoven to make a place where they can play and explore and bounce. Tangle takes individual paths and interconnects them to form a hilarious metaphor for life. Featuring live music, this beautiful event is a place where children take control and create a giant shared abstract artwork that everyone owns and anyone can play in.
“This is an opportunity you rarely get to do since you can’t do it at home or anywhere else.” – Bethany, 13
Ants is a work that brings human-sized ants into a public space for a mix of roving performance and large scale interaction with children and their adults. The Ants enter the public space in search of food. Intent upon their task they barely notice the children who are drawn irresistibly to them. Who has seen giant Ants before? As they find crumb after giant crumb, the children bring the food to the Ants, and gradually begin to understand what the Ants want them to do.
This task oriented performance is a delight to see unfold, as children work hard to communicate with the Ants and each other, to do the task they think is happening. The crumbs, hundreds of them, form beautiful wavering lines, transforming a landscape and constantly changing and making new patterns. Ants is a study in a child’s desire for pattern and to be part of a clan, and is a delicate, transformative project for public spaces.
From the creators of the much-celebrated We Built This City and TANGLE comes the delightful Paper Planet. This beautiful, gentle installation is filled with tall, strange cardboard trees, paper leaves, boulders, birds, and creatures. Visitors populate the work with their own creations and rustling paper selves, as children and their adults become totally and literally wrapped up!
Separation Street is Polyglot’s new interactive 60 min theatrical experience for children and adults. It’s a theatrical adventure with a provocative beginning – children and their accompanying adults are separated and are taken on two separate theater journeys. Participants investigate the story of Frank, an astronaut determined to reach the limits of the universe and beyond. The audience moves through the space to discover a dream, uncover mysteries and clues until the separate worlds begin to impact on each other. Ambient and exhilarating, together kids and their adults experience a different universe – one where kids have power, adults are vulnerable and separation means freedom.
How High the Sky is an immersive theatre event for pre-walking babies and their adults. Entering a warmly lit room, parent and child settle onto a soft white floor, sitting amid fantastical balloon creations – here a molecule, the building blocks of life; there a galaxy, the entire span of our existence. Performers move through the space, shifting balloons from one constellation to another, playing with sound and light as object and play fuse into an ever-changing evocation of the child’s own unfettered imagination. Using the natural curiosity and responsiveness of children who have not yet learned to speak, and their immediate sounds in a compelling soundscape.
Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) takes pre-school children and their adults on a sea journey never to be forgotten.
Climb aboard and be rocked and rolled across a strange ocean, dive to the bottom of the sea, hear stories on the wind and in the currents of the water and face great danger before coming to safe harbour.
Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) draws its inspiration from the seafaring history in Java and the true tale of arrival told by a small boy. Combining puppetry, song, shadow imagery and sound, the show bustles with all the life of the ocean. Audience members, both young and old, are passengers and storytellers on this adventure.
Melbourne’s Polyglot Theatre and Indonesia’s Papermoon Puppet Theatre worked with local children from a fishing village north of Java to conceive and create this exquisite encounter.
Polyglot Theatre is Australia’s leading creator of experiential, interactive and installation theatre for children and families, encouraging kids to turn the simplest things into extraordinary creations. Inspired by the artwork, play and ideas of children, Polyglot creates imagined worlds where audiences actively participate in performance through touch, play and encounter. At Polyglot, theatre is child’s play…
For over 30 years, Polyglot has ignited children’s imaginations from tiny Australian towns to the world’s leading arts centers.
In 1978 Polyglot was formed to promote understanding between cultures, bringing multi-language performance to theatres and schools for the children of Victoria, Australia. Since the year 2000 the company has greatly expanded its focus. Driven by a desire to reach a broader audience, Polyglot now creates performance and events for the street and festivals, interactive events for families, large scale theatre performances and community participation performance, as well as remaining loyal to schools through shows and workshops.
Polyglot is one of the most respected contemporary theatre companies in Australia, reaching thousands of children and making shows that resonate in the memories of audiences. Through experimentation, invention and consistent quality, Polyglot keeps their growing audience excited about what may lie ahead.
In 2014, Polyglot performed over 108 performances of six touring works and 4 new works, facilitated three community engagement projects both in Australian and internationally, undertook five creative development processes and led over 107 workshops, all in all reaching more than 68,000 people in six different countries!
Since Sue Giles was appointed Artistic Director of Polyglot in 2000, she has directed, written or devised ten works which have toured nationally and internationally. Her conceptual work We Built This City has toured continually for ten years including to the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Kennedy Center Washington, Act3 Festival Singapore and through England, Ireland and Scotland. Other productions under Giles’ direction include, The Big Game (Melbourne International Arts Festival, Singapore Arts Festival), Check Out!(Melbourne International Comedy Festival, National Theatre of Korea, Hong Kong International Arts Carnival, winner Excellent Production Award at Shanghai International Children’s Theatre Festival) Headhunter (UNIMA international puppetry festival, ASSITEJ international festival for young people, Drama Victoria Award winner), Muckheap (Esplanade Theatres, Singapore) Baggy Pants and the community spectacular High Rise.
Prior to working at Polyglot, Sue was a freelance director, writer and performer, working with her own company Shaken and Suspicious and other companies including Black Hole, Back To Back Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company, Arena Theatre and Terrapin Puppet Theatre. She has written for ABC radio and episodes of Lift Off for the Children’s Television Foundation. Sue has directed over 30 productions and written 21 produced plays.
In 2003, she was the Australian representative at the International Director’s Forum hosted by ASSITEJ Germany. In 2004 she was the Victorian Representative on the National Board of YPAA (Young People and the Arts, Australia) and from 2008-9 she was on the steering committee of the national puppetry organization UNIMA. In 2009, Sue was the Puppetry Director of the Australian production of the Broadway musical, Avenue Q.