Acknowledgment of country

Polyglot acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we live and create, and we pay our respects to Elders past and present. For more than 65,000 years, children and families have created and played here, and we are grateful to make our art on this country too.


Beginning in 2021, artists from Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay and Polyglot Theatre worked together to make a new, participatory experience for and with children.

Polyglot and Esplanade enjoy a relationship built on the shared belief that young audiences are discerning and worthy of outstanding creative experiences.

A LINK/Come Back Home creative development photo. A small child wearing a face mask runs through a large space, across circles and a long path of shiny aluminium foil. An artist follows the child. Part of the space is enclosed with large, aluminium foil covered screens. Photo: AlvieAlive, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore.

The creative process

LINK: a collaborative process of creation at a distance

In late 2020, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore approached Polyglot about collaborating to create a new work for children. Unfolding at the height of COVID 19, the partnership would involve developing a model of working that could make authentic creative collaboration across distance possible.

Using this, a process was developed that enabled the participating artists – three from Polyglot, three from Singapore – to work together online, and then separately with local children in each country, to create a foundation for a new work for children and their families. This was called LINK.

LINK was comprised of a series of stages (or ‘links’) that spoke to the steps in the development process, and helped shape the ways in which artistic sharing and learnings could be woven into creative possibilities. The four stages were Bond, Relationship, Nexus and Knit.

A Zoom screenshot, featuring the six LINK artists. They each hold a drawing up to their cameras. A Zoom screenshot, featuring the six LINK artists. They each pose for the camera.

Over two months, the six interdisciplinary artists spent time getting to know one another on Zoom: swapping stories, skills and insights, and lots of laughter. Together, they workshopped and improvised: mapping ‘worlds’, swapping audio stories from both cultures, experimenting with combined Exquisite Corpse activities, and using a simple grey triangle to kickstart their imaginations! The teams then took their shared ideas, particularly around themes of identity, into primary schools, kindergartens and early learning centres in both Singapore and Melbourne, exploring and playing with children.

In the final stage of LINK, the artists led an online presentation for stakeholders in both countries. They shared reflections on their experiences throughout the unique process, as well as plans for its future and how a show could be developed.

Creative development: the story of a child’s rite of passage – told by and through the community

In early 2022, the next phase of development began. The focus was creating an immersive theatre experience for children and families to discover more about their own identities and families, their communities and their world.

Both teams of artists concentrated on the theatrical aspects of their discoveries, exploring the possibility of a central question or story, and the introduction of performance and character to the way audiences participate. They delved into creating an imaginative world that audiences can enter, immerse themselves in play, and simply ‘be’.

In March, Polyglot artist Glen Walton travelled to Singapore, working alongside the local team to deliver a work-in-progress participatory event for children and families as part of the Esplanade March On Festival.

The Australian team then returned to schools, collaborating with children to explore the work as interactive performance, drawing in the elements already discovered and tested in other contexts. There were explorations under tables, mapping imagined worlds, and playing with all the different types of characters (including animals) that might live in this shared adventure.

At this stage of the collaboration, artists from both teams were invited to draw more deeply from their individual practice, leading to the development of exciting new music, lighting and set design, and creative direction.

Come Back Home

In October 2022 the Polyglot team travelled to Singapore. This was a transformative moment, with an almost entirely online experience becoming an in-person project.

Over a week, in the gorgeous rehearsal spaces of the Esplanade, elements of the whole creative journey were realised and woven together. This included dancing box towers, disco bikes, quests out into the life of Singapore’s ‘void decks’, and community workshops with young people and their families.

In February 2023, the Polyglot team returned to Singapore for a final creative development and rehearsal period. This culminated in a major new, vibrant, immersive play space and performance: Come Back Home.

The joyful international premiere was presented at the Esplanade March On Festival, in the Singtel Waterfront Theatre, delivered by a cross cultural team of Australian and Singaporean artists and production staff. We welcomed more than 950 children and families across 16 performances.

This project was assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body.

A Come Back Home production photo. A child wearing a paper hat joyfully points to colourful fabric bunting hanging above them. Other children and families create and play in the background. They are on a large stage, illuminated with bright theatrical lighting. Photo: Studio Znke, courtesy of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore A Come Back Home production photo. A dancing performer illuminated under a bright spotlight is surrounded by a dancing audience who circle around the performer. Photo: Studio Znke, courtesy of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay website
  • Since we last met you have turned 6 days older, which means your imaginations are 6 days bigger.

    Sylvie Meltzer, Polyglot artist, to participating children, 2021

  • …the purpose is to make authentic, satisfying collaboration possible across distance, to work with distance rather than in spite of it.

    Sue Giles AM, Polyglot Theatre

  • We believe in making the arts accessible for everyone. As a not-for-profit arts centre, we are driven by our mission to entertain, engage, educate and inspire through the arts. Our social motivations guide our programmes so that there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

    Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore