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How High The Sky

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 their parents and carers.

The performance is a dual experience for adult and child that takes baby and adult 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.

How High The Sky premiered in late 2012 at the Arts Centre Melbourne.

Developed with the assistance of the Arts Centre, Junction Festival, the Australia Council for the Arts and the generous support of Miss Betty Amsden OAM and Daniel and Danielle Besen through Polyglot's Ambassadors' Circle.

The Experience

The participantsare immersed in a strange and wonderful environment. White and clear balloons are delicately balanced with ‘breath air’ and helium to enable movement and linked into amorphous forms, which float, sink, twist and expand before disappearing into the dimness above. Children clutch and move the balloons, creating movement which is incidental and unexpected.

The environment changes constantly – from a twisting of molecular forms, or shapes reminiscent of galaxies to 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, to the appearance of a bird, a fish or three sheep. Text is handed as personal notes to the adults, luring them into a different sort of engagement than their children. A white silk dress with its hem suspended by helium balloons floats off a performer’s body and drifts, jellyfish-like, to the roof.

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.

The Philosophy

Polyglot recognises the right of children to cultural experiences at every age and values the insight offered by very young children to the creative process.

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. This, our first work for children so young, is an exciting opportunity to celebrate and explore, with the audience, the very beginnings of perception and expression.

The Creative Team

Co-Directors: Sue Giles and Jessica Wilson

Designer: Anna Tregloan

Sound Designer: J. David Franzke

Lighting Designer: Andrew Livingston (Bluebottle3)

We would like to acknowledge the artists who have contributed to creative developments of the work including Russell Goldsmith, Sarah Kriegler, Sam Routledge, Emily Tomins, Gerard Van Dyck and Penny Baron. We thank all the families who have been involved in the creative development so far.

The Process So Far

Creative development began in January 2010, continued in July 2010, April 2011 and July 2011. The most recent development took place in partnership with the Junction Festival in Launceston. An extract from the artists' report reads:

“The moment when the babies were left alone in the middle of the space with a performance just for them, was wonderful. It was a very moving moment, where for two minutes the pure personality of each small human being was strongly present, reacting by themselves, to what caught at them and made them still, or excited or whatever – their true reaction to the world around them placed in a dramatic context."

How High The Sky premiered in late 2012 at the Arts Centre Melbourne.

For booking enquiries, please contact:

Tamara Harrison
Executive Producer
+61 3 8060 4680

Laura Colby (North America)
Director, Elsie Management
+1 718/797 4577


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Since Sue Giles was appointed Artistic Director of Polyglot in 2000, she has directed, written...

Artistic Director

Jessica is a director and producer of non-text based theatre. Her work is defined by its rich...

Critical Evaluation Panel and Director

Anna Tregloan conceives, directs and designs her own unique work receiving public and critical...


ANDREW LIVINGSTONE is a Co-director of bluebottle, specialising in lighting design and project...

Lighting Design
24 Oct 2012 - 28 Oct 2012
10am, 12noon and 2.30pm
State Theatre Rehearsal Room, Arts Centre Melbourne
Babies & their carer
$25 for Adult & Child pair, $10 for additional observers
27 Aug 2011 - 28 Aug 2011
Various; see more info
Launceston College Drama Room, Launceston TAS
For babies 12 months and under
09 Jul 2010 - 10 Jul 2010
10.30am, 11.30am and 1.30pm
ANZ Pavilion, The Arts Centre
0 to 3 years
AU$14 per child (accompanying adult is free)