February Education News
In January, Polyglot welcomed Cat Sewell, our new Artistic Director and co-CEO. She brings extensive experience in participatory theatre, working as a director, play specialist, facilitator and educator, and as co-creative director of The Ball Room Projects, an independent theatre company that specialises in interactive performance and installations for children and families. Cat has led award-winning projects in a range of contexts including health and child development, community collaboration, public design, education, and local government. She writes:
“It’s been wonderful to begin meeting all the people involved in Polyglot over the last few months. I value taking the time to listen and build relationships. Participatory art is all about relationships – to each other, to ourselves, to the materials we create with. And at the basis of creating, we have play. Play to explore and experiment and test and take risks.
I am currently finishing some beautiful projects highlighting play, including a resource that was made by children, for children, with the City of Maribyrnong called Passport to Play, and the launch of a report on the first ever National Child Health Poll on Play run through the Royal Children’s Hospital. Play and creativity are vital parts of childhood, and we need to make space and time for all children to access that right. I am so looking forward to the works and experiences that Polyglot has laid out for communities this year.”
Sharing Paper Planet
Our Paper Planet workshop offers an unusual, immersive environment that illustrates the complexity, power and intricacy of students’ creativity. Since 2018, we have toured it to Victorian specialist and special development schools, creating and playing with Disabled young people who face the most barriers in accessing arts experiences. This is supported by the Victorian Department of Education & Training Strategic Partnerships Program. We are honoured that the Cassandra Gantner Foundation is also supporting this program in 2023, enabling Polyglot to reach more children with disability and continue deepening our specialisation in creating work for this audience.
Family Forts – reflections on play in the home is currently in development. Led by Generator artist Ashlee Hughes, it is a playful, creative project with children that investigates the experience of home, family and community from their perspective. Through workshops in City of Casey early learning centres, we are exploring the connections between children and their adults – parents, carers and educators – in creating playing spaces, imagined worlds, and stories that illuminate the child’s world view.
Family Forts is proudly supported by the City of Casey.
Ripples of exchange
Polyglot’s engagement with school communities is woven throughout our 45-year history. As well as our workshop program, we collaborate with schools when developing new performance works.
Since 2021, artists from Polyglot and the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore have worked together, via remote digital connection, to make a new, participatory experience for and with children. Development has taken place in schools in both countries, and Polyglot has been fortunate to work with the students and educators at Spensley Street and Tylden Primary Schools. Through shared drawing, play and discussion, we explored seedlings of concepts that have flourished into a new show, Come Back Home. It premieres at the Esplanade next month.
The exchange between our audiences, our art and our artists is a powerful reminder that our work exists to give children the power to be in control, to have an effect and experience freedom.
Polyglot’s involvement in Come Back Home is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
A new partnership
We are thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with DKS Innlandet (The Cultural Schoolbag), a program in Norway that ensures all students experience professional arts and culture. It is a one-of-a-kind, collaborative project between the national, regional and local levels of the cultural and education sectors, encompassing all schools in Norway.
Ants is being presented as part of the 2023 program in three regions, and next month a creative team will travel to Norway to train local artists to deliver the work. New Ants costumes and crumbs have been constructed by Generator artist Katrina Gaskell and her team, and these will stay in Norway for the duration. In this program, Ants will be known as Maur, and we look forward to the joy, learnings and opportunities this partnership will bring.