School holiday smorgasbord
These school holidays, Polyglot is taking over Melbourne!
Boats sails into the Arts Centre Melbourne Main Lawn from 9-17 April. At a central mooring place, lightweight boats wait for children’s imagination and energy. Once aboard, the boats are propelled by a flurry of feet, with kids and families working as a crew to find their own path and voyage across the high seas. As they journey, Polyglot’s artists float as castaways to be rescued or as mysterious elements of the urban ocean. Together they guide the boats to safe harbour ready for a new crew, and the next adventure. Beware! There may be sharks…
On 12-13 April, just up the road from Boats, our Ants move into Melbourne Recital Centre for the Music Play Family Festival 2021. Kids can choose how they interact with the big insects, becoming ant-like creatures themselves by making their very own feelers in an antennae workshop, before taking part in the performance as it unfolds. All are welcome to join in with this enchanting experience. This season of Ants features a special live performance of a newly commissioned score generously supported by Melbourne Recital Centre’s Betty Amsden Bequest.
And from 15-16 April, a special season of Paper Planet spreads its wings at Bayside Gallery in Brighton to accompany the Debbie Symons: Sing immersive installation. Paper Planet is a spectacular forest of tall cardboard trees, the perfect place for flocks of paper birds to flit and fly, and for children’s imaginations to go truly wild. After entering the space, families use masking tape, paper and cardboard to make creatures, vines, flowers, costumes and impossible feathered creations, adding to the avian sanctuary around them. An ongoing, durational installation, Paper Planet is an experience that all ages find inspiring and utterly blissful.
While we are looking forward to seeing Melbourne families in person soon, our thoughts have also been with our friends overseas. Thursday 11 March marked the ten-year anniversary of the tsunami that devastated Japan’s north east coast. In 2011, as part of the Australian disaster recovery effort, Polyglot toured to Minami Sanriku, one of the coastal towns most affected. A strong friendship was formed with the community, and Polyglot has returned four times, most recently in 2018 with Paper Planet. We were due to return this year with a new project, but the pandemic meant this was impossible. We look forward to the day that we can visit Japan again and create and play with the children and families of Minami Sanriku.
On Monday, the 20th ASSITEJ World Congress began. Including both online and ‘on the ground’ events in Japan, this blended format allows for more Theatre for Young Audiences professionals than ever before to gather and engage with the issues facing the global sector. Our own Sue Giles AM has been on the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ International since 2014 and a Vice President since 2017, and this year stands for President of the global association. Polyglot artist Sylvie Meltzer and Voice Lab Project Manager Lexie Wood presented Voice Lab Online at an ‘Innovative TYA responses to COVID’ networking session, where our international peers were very interested to learn how the project had made Melbourne children’s voices heard during the 2020 lockdown.
World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People has been celebrated by ASSITEJ International on 20 March since 2001. It is an important opportunity to reflect on the profound impact arts experiences have on all children and young people, and how we can ensure their access to these, even when theatre as we knew it pre-pandemic is still not possible in many parts of the world. Sue wrote a note to mark the day:
“World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People is something extraordinary this year, as we in Australia celebrate the fact that we can go to theatre and take children to arts experiences, and others around the world are still facing closed venues and empty rehearsal rooms. The message remains vital though – the role that we as both artists and participants in art play in all of our cultures and societies is central to identity and social cohesion. The rights of children and young people to arts and culture, to expression and participation, is something to focus on and continue championing.
The ASSITEJ International World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People campaign, ‘Take a Child to the Theatre’ acknowledges the role that adults play in children’s’ access to art. This was even more vital in the long months of lockdown as TYA artists around the world created works that reached out to homes and schools and families – always needing adults to assist and make access possible. The upcoming Victorian school holiday in April offers more for kids in real life than we could imagine was possible in the past 12 months – Melbourne, let’s take a child to arts experiences this year because we CAN!”