July Education News
Polyglot Theatre acknowledges that for 65,000 years, First Nations peoples have created, played and shared stories on this land. This year’s NAIDOC Week Theme is For Our Elders, and we recognise the enduring legacy of First Nations Elders who pass down culture, language, traditions and stories to younger generations.
Polyglot is grateful for the generosity and wisdom of Elders, and committed to ensuring that the voices of First Nations children are heard, shared and appreciated. To learn more about NAIDOC Week, and to find a celebration event near you, please visit the national NAIDOC website.
Return to Japan
Last month, Polyglot returned to Japan to share a music-filled underwater kelp forest version of Paper Planet in the Yokohama region, working with our long-time collaborators, Acchi Cocchi. Together, we visited a kindergarten, specialist schools, primary schools and a children’s hospice, reaching over 600 children across 21 sessions.
Mischa Long, one of the Generator artists on tour, wrote, “We’ve done two days of shows here, at specialist schools, with students mostly in wheelchairs. It has been amazing to see how Paper Planet overcomes barriers… We all wear masks so our communication is done with eye contact, gesture, and (silly) vocalising. It’s been a JOY! Chased by laughing kids (I was a sea monster, fair play to them), decorating them to become sea creatures… It’s uplifting, heartwarming and a blessing that we can bring this gift to another country and to kids who may not otherwise experience it. Polyglot makes magic.”
Staff from the Australian Embassy travelled from Tokyo to join our team at Yamamoto Elementary School, and had a wonderful time seeing the children transform themselves into sea creatures.
This project was supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.
Multiplicity of responses
Closer to home, Paper Planet recently toured to Broadmeadows Special Developmental School. This was the first of six specialist/special development schools we are visiting this year, supported by the Department of Education Strategic Partnerships Program and the Cassandra Gantner Foundation. Paper Planet offers an unusual, immersive environment, evoking a multiplicity of responses, and illustrating the complexity, power and intricacy of students’ creativity.
“We’ve received lots of feedback about how beautiful the space is and how wonderful it is that the kids can feel free to do whatever they find interesting.” Lexie Wood, Project Manager
Totems in Kempsey
In June, Generator artists Blayne Welsh and Tamara Rewse, joined by local artist Colleena Smith, ran workshops at Kempsey South P School in NSW for a creative development of one of Polyglot’s newest works, Totems. A First Nations-led interactive experience focusing on animals and stories from different places and communities, it asks local children: What do you want the kids of Australia to know about this place?
“For me, the opportunity to take play and performance outside has been a fabulous experience. It is ever so important when you are actually dealing with content that is connected with Country. The freedom and natural play that happens in the bush is the best way to make a show!” Blayne Welsh
Devised by Blayne, a Wailwan man, and Tamara, Totems is a multi-year project. Across 2023, the creative team will spend three weeks in development in Kempsey, culminating in a performance for the school community, led by the students. Totems ensures the voices of children from remote communities will be shared all over the country, and Polyglot is privileged to have Blayne and Tamara leading this project.
Totems is assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body, and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation.
Wish Street is an exciting collaboration between Polyglot and Satellite Foundation, celebrating the unique and powerful intersection of theatre-making and mental health. An in-school workshop residency, it incorporates playing, making and reflection, providing opportunities for children to explore their agency and ideas of trust, self-care and confidence.
“We were giving the kids ‘that day’ [they] would never forget.” Educator
Resources – Raising Children Network
For several years, Cat Sewell, Polyglot’s Artistic Director and co-CEO, has authored activity guides for the Raising Children Network. Her most recent series is specifically for families who experience trauma or disaster and have children with disability.