Monday, July 23, 2012

Two BIG houses at play

A BIG city stretched and grown across long distance and 
late night magazine making. 

A bridge between two houses, two worlds. 

(Not a tug of war)

We are now in the final few weeks of design for the third edition...Game On! 

By Lilly Blue and Jo Pollitt (copyright 2012)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paper dolls on the BIG studio floor

We are late-night magazine making again.  Side by side across the country where stories are painted and  paintings are whispered back in words. Some of the final pages to land are the worlds born between us. Below are the first in process glimpses of the Grumpi's for the Game On! edition.

 I see pull apart paper dolls with holes and space for imagination and bravery unbroken... make me a dress from paintings and poetry she says...lina and lotta spin coloured thread from the frayed string and stitch the outlines and shadows of a thousand girls ...

Twyla, age 3.5 paints a prototype of the Gumpi dolls for Game On! 
"I hope Joey likes these" says Twyla. Very much.
The Grumpi's on their way, born of Lilly's images and Jo's words for their collaborative BIG Books That Grow project
And we HAD to show you the paper dolls on the Picking Daisies blog of our 12 yr old BIG Feature writer Zali (you might even WIN a custom made doll here if you are super quick!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

BIG on location at the WOW Festival

An early start saw us bundle the little Sydney BIG kid up and head off on a long car journey to WOW - The Way Out West Festival for Children at  Casula Powerhouse. Running until Saturday, WOW is a festival for kids that that connects directly and immediately with its audience through hands on art and interaction. Twyla had a brilliant time building a Paper Planet with the artists from Polyglot Theatre  and contributing to the Monsters Den that literally grew in front of our eyes. 

 It was a thrill to see our postcards super sized and to watch the response to our BIG mag on display. We are so excited to be beginning a conversation with the fabulous team at WOW and are already talking about a having BIGGER presence at next years festival!

'Paper Planet is a world filled with tall, strange cardboard trees, paper leaves, boulders, ponds and other mysterious shapes. Fantastic and unusual animals and birds hang from the branches and sit around the trunks.'

Building the Monsters Den

Spinning a Yarn - A Knit Plastic in Crisis Production

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing

Three girls. Three pathways. One destination.

"The ending made me feel sort of hard to explain" Luca, age 9

I have to be upfront and say that this very beautiful show made us feel sad. An underlying sense of longing throughout the work conveyed a kind of unspoken sadness that resonated deeply with our senior ed and lead the car conversation on the way home to sadder places still.

This is not a bad thing. Feeling sadness is not something so much encouraged in children. Praise for cheerfulness and play is usually the way. It opened the way for discussion and sparked questioning of an unexpected emotional response. And the role of an artist or artwork in responding to the world.

" somewhere between hilarious and human" Luca, age 9

Playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer says he is committed to making strong and respectful theatre work for children and with this show presented by the fabulous Barking Gecko Theatre Company he does does just that.

The play takes its cues from Fairytale and fable because as director Noel Jordon says "Their themes explore the issues of real life and do not shy away from the darker aspects of the human condition as well as celebrating its joys".  This Girl Laughs is an unashamed rendering of big world provocations such as belonging, abandonment, journeying, and striving for truth. Realised passionately by the performers, it feels like they are writing and creating in each minute it unravels supported by a tightly choreographed energetic arc.

The death of their mother sets a line of landings in motion that sees each of the plays triplets follow a different path. I loved each of the different theatrical responses,  that each character was so richly textured and not fallen in one direction, and that each storyline was completely swept up in its own undoing. The complexity and passion with which each of the interweaving narratives were told made it believable that the paths were so challenging. I really DID believe that Albienne (Ella Hetherington) could stop an army of thousands and that Carmen (Sarah Nelson) could speak to a forest of creatures and that Beatrix(Jo Morris) left her mansion of plenty to finally follow the road home. I LOVED the lack of stereotyping of the women as they grew, and that my 9 year old boy did not even seem to NOTICE they were girls. Or mention that it was a show more for girls. It spoke to him, and I was moved by his response and quiet thinking.

Highlights were a lighthouse falling into the ocean to submarine Beatrix through years of tea and imagining, great battles won and lost by armies of kitchen utensils and catapulting flour bombs, rich costumes and and a playable stage that invited us immediately into the action

In the end (after 20years) the girls and their searching father arrive once more at home and we are left wondering just where they will all adventure next... and even where we ourselves might travel...

Presented in partnership with Q Theatre and Casula Powerhouse (where we have been BIG this week at the WOW festival), the play is definitely worth seeing - professional, challenging and laugh out loud funny too. Despite our particular reading, there was much laughter and and animated buzz that filled the auditorium, and yes there was much hilarity from our Senior ed when the badger kicked and farted his way through the forest and into the familial home. Indeed.

A night at the theatre is SUCH a brilliant experience to share side by side with a child. It is probably my favourite place in all the world. Our tickets were collected from the opening night invite table where "An envelope with my name on it IN PUBLIC!" wowed our BIG ed. It's the little things.

"This play is about hoping and believing"says young Barking Gecko reviewer Maia 
in her review, "It made me curious. It made me want to know more". You can catch This Girl Laughing in Perth until July 21st. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

18th Biennale of Sydney - All Our Relations

Sometimes taking kids to large scale arts festivals is more thrilling in theory, and at times it is the train trip or ice creams that end up being the most memorable part of the day. It is a welcome surprise to come across a world class curated exhibition that not only welcomes the wild, curious, loud and generous spirit of children but also invites them to inhabit, translate, interact and contribute to the work in real ways. The 18th Biennale of Sydney absolutely surpassed our BIG expectations and lived up to its goals of provoking interaction, collaboration, shared experience and the telling of new stories.  

While the BIG Kids did love the free ferry ride to Cockatoo Island AND spent the first half an hour rolling down a small hill on arrival, we were unanimous in declaring it a brilliant day of immersive, interactive, unusual, inspiring and unexpected arts experiences. We had an absolute ball and will be returning for the School Holiday Program Monday, 9 July – Friday, 13 July (drop in 10.30 am–12 pm and 1–3 pm FREE!). You can download the kids audio tour here or pick up the Kids Trail activity booklet on arrival.

Ann Veronica Janssens
Daydream, 2012
"Is it okay for me to get really wet in here mum? I can't believe this, are you serious that someone made this for me to get wet in? How can someone actually make real mist? Is this magic or real?"
Twyla, age 3
Sriwhana Spong
Learning Duets, 2012
They swam in silk for a time finding each other through the soft of it
and becoming friends all over again. 
Ann Veronica Janssens
The sound of many hands pushing and finding 
mirrors of exchange with small fingers pressed into strangers and a shared rush of allowing and exploring and permission to enter the encounter all together, without restraint. So much joyous sound.
Phillip BeasleyHylozoic Series, Sybyl, 2012
Erin Manning
Stitching Time - A collective fashioning
Phillip BeasleyHylozoic Series, Sybyl, 2012
"Can you believe that this wing can
listen to my hand moving?" Twyla, age 3

In the cloud room. Dreaming

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Images from Museum of Now at PICA

Following torch light into a dark theatre space, we are led into a cave pinpricked in patterns of light through tiny holes as performers whisper "Can you see it now, how about now?" 

Artists and kids produced one of the most beautiful nights of brave, interactive and uncompromising theatre I have seen this year. As part of PICA's Spark_Lab program The Museum of Now was a promenade style performance installation through eight of PICA's gallery and performance spaces. Spark_Lab is PICA's exciting new arts learning program designed to grow innovators of the future, and this sold out show was the work of over 60 students involved in an artist residency program at Mt Lawley Senior High School with artists James Berlyn (Lead artist), Tristen Parr, Lloyd Godman and Josh Hogan.

photo by Toni Wilkinson

Led by a tour guide who sporadically surprised us with facts of what is 'now',  we journeyed from place to place in a feast for the senses and opening of the imagination through spoken monologue, light, sound, dance, song, story and sculpture:

Up the spiral staircase to the clock tower and into a room floored with autumn leaves and traces of childhood piled up around a young dj mixing sound from his laptop and drawing on his arm.  Wearing wireless white headphones collected at the top of a spiral staircase we were instructed to lay down  - the loud sound reverberated through body and mind. Literally a moving experience.

Into a room where the audience is invited to press the button to direct the action of solo performers who each hold a button and a story . Eye contact is easy and endearing as they tell us how many video games they have played, boxes of cereal eaten, homework forgotten and books read. It is a soundscape of stories begun and interrupted, unsettling the idea of the present, hinting at future and grounding years in the past.

Another room, another group of performers - A table of cards with symbols and again we drive the action, holding up triggers for response from the human 'orchestra' . As conductors we test and take the players beyond what they know and learnt responses are mixed and matched in a live re-telling of of a choose your own adventure kind of performance.

A mad hatters tea party in Victorian dress was stripped to modern day chatter and a backdrop pulled away to introduce a rock band in full force singing and swaying us back into our own memories displaced and affirmed by these teenage commandeers.

Arrival into a quiet room after so much noise. A single boy in the corner surrounded by a mountain of crumpled 'draft' pages. A short monologue on the state of the world as he lights a match and fires a candle, placing a clear container over the flame we watch as is slowly fades to black.
photo by Toni Wilkinson
"The Museum of Now asked these incredible young people to take on leadership roles, to takes risks and step beyond their prior experience to become responsible for their own creative endeavours. Their energy, honesty and commitment to this project has been overwhelming. I hope we are given the chance to present it again in the future so that it reaches the wider audience it deserves". Tara Daniel, Education Program Manager, PICA's Spark_Lab

Where are you right now? 

photo by Toni Wilkinson

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