HOW HIGH THE SKY

its makers had considered its viewers with a seriousness most adult theatre would do well to emulate.
— Gina McColl, The Age 2012

PRODUCED BY POLYGLOT FOR THE MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL (2012) 

  • CO-DIRECTORS: Sue Giles and Jessica Wilson
  • DESIGNER: Anna Tregloan
  • SOUND DESIGN: J. David Franzke
  • LIGHTING DESIGN: Andrew Livingston (Bluebottle3)
  • PERFORMERS: David Wells, Penny Barron & Michelle Heaven

 

Is it possible for adults to perceive the world as babies do? How often do we get an opportunity to really value and even be influenced by a baby’s unadulterated wonder? 

How High the Sky is an immersive theatrical experience for pre-walking babies and one parent or carer. The performance is a dual experience for adult and child that takes baby and adult pairs into a sense-surround experience of lightness and dream-like images, gradually peeling away the logic of narrative to allow adults to absorb image with as open a mind as a baby.

The participant parent / child pairs are immersed in a environment of shifting architecture created solely with white and clear balloons. The balloons are delicately balanced with ‘breath air’ and helium to enable specific movement, and are linked into amorphous forms, which float, sink, twist and expand before disappearing into the dimness above. 

The environment changes constantly – from a twisting of molecular forms, or shapes reminiscent of galaxies, a sudden uprush of streamers that could be a forest or a sea of kelp, to intricate shadow images projected onto large white balloons that move like planets across the floor.  Text is handed as personal notes to the adults, enticing them to perceive how their child might be experiencing the work.  

Sound is at the core of the experience: magical sounds of delighted goos and sighs, even cries are mixed live into the sound design which is a mix of captured sound, crafted music and atmospherics. Prior to the performance, the heartbeat of each child is heard by their parent, using digital stethoscopes in an antechamber space. Then at the climax later in the experience, we hear the rapidly beating heartbeats of infants, a striking metaphor for the fragility and individuality of new life and the miracle of a collective future.

How High The Sky responds to Polyglot’s artistic rationale, which celebrates the unique perspective of children, driven by the belief that infants are not human ‘becomings’, but human beings.