22 Nov 2021 E-News

Polyglot’s November e-news

A We Built This City production photo. A child with dark curly hair, wearing a red shirt, leaps into the air, smiling. They are surrounded by hundreds of cardboard boxes piled high.

“It was a joint effort and brought people together like a community should be.”

We Built This City is returning home for its 20th anniversary! Presented by Melbourne Fringe and Metro Tunnel Creative Program, this energetic, high-intensity experience welcomes children and families back to Melbourne’s centre. With thousands of cardboard boxes, a DJ spinning music and Polyglot artists/construction workers roaming the site, the community is invited to come together and think big to build the city shapes of its dreams. It’s a joyous celebration of the amazing feat of engineering happening right now, beneath our feet, as part of the Metro Tunnel project.

Free one-hour sessions are being held across 4-5 December. Bookings are essential – for more information and to register, visit the Melbourne Fringe website. For detailed access information, visit the Polyglot calendar.

Conceived by our Artistic Director Sue Giles in her first year with Polyglot, We Built This City premiered in 2001 at the City of Melbourne Children’s Week celebrations. It has gone on to delight children and families in countries including Japan, Korea, Brazil, China, the UK, USA and UAE, as well as Australia. Sue writes, “Bringing We Built This City back to Melbourne at this time has powerful resonance for us all, allowing children and families to re-connect with each other and their city, through imaginative participation in the arts, in public space. We Built This City was Polyglot’s entrance point to all the participatory work that has followed and is a vital part of our artistic and philosophical journey.”

With restrictions easing, we are thrilled that in-person creative developments can go ahead. Parked (working title) is our long-form collaboration with Oily Cart (UK), commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne for major arts and disability festival Alter State. We’re working across time and distance on a project that centralises the perspectives of children with disability who experience the most barriers to access. Using nature and landscape to explore ideas of freedom and power, the Australian artistic team gathered at ArtPlay in the first week of November to continue work on this universally accessible, sensory, immersive arts experience with sustainability at its heart.

Polyglot and Oily Cart also delivered a live, virtual creative exchange as part of the Alter State Digital Launch Week, with key creatives sharing guiding principles and insights from the project. Polyglot is currently looking for families with children with profound and multiple disabilities to take part in Parked creative sessions in Melbourne. If you are interested, please contact Erica on communications@polyglot.org.au.

Shadow Dance is an immersive, participatory experience conceived by our Generator artist Steph O’Hara, which is currently in creative development as part of the Abbotsford Convent Foundation Pivot program. Children and families are invited to use their bodies and projected light to create creatures and narratives with their shadows, immersing themselves in a moving world. With manipulated live video and a responsive soundscape, this work plays with the digital double, provoking and transforming shape and motion into magical elements. Our latest Play Space work Bees is also in late-stage creative development and will premiere in early 2022. We look forward to sharing more details about both works soon!

As we all adjust to the end of lockdown, please take care of yourself and those around you. Stay safe, go at the pace that suits you and your family, and enjoy the warmer, brighter weather. We can’t wait to create and play with Melbourne friends – new and old – at We Built This City – and hope to have many more opportunities for in-person connection next year.

Commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne for a major arts and disability festival Alter State, Parked (working title) is supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons Board, the British Council and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season. It has also received additional support from the Cassandra Gantner Foundation, State Trustees Australia Foundation, the Prescott Family Foundation, ArtPlay and Arts Council England.

E-News header image: We Built This City
Photographer: Wendy Kimpton

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.