By Amy Cooper
The new name for South Australia’s foremost children’s arts festival could not be more appropriate, says its creative producer, Susannah Sweeney.
“DreamBIG Children’s Festival is a celebration of our creative kids and their incredible minds,” she says.
Finding a new name to reflect the scope and scale of the much-loved Adelaide event was a challenge, but the organisers turned to an ideal source: the young people themselves. DreamBIG emerged from the imagination of eight-year-old primary student Clementine Struthers, who won a state-wide naming competition. Another winner, 13-year-old Nicole Groot, designed the new poster image and branding.
Together, they capture the strengthened vision of the 43-year-old biennial festival formerly known as Come Out. Says Sweeney: “2017 DreamBIG Children’s Festival may be a new name and an exciting new program, but the basic foundations remain unchanged – this is 10 days of creativity and learning and imaginative exploration, all wrapped up in glorious fun and entertainment.”
The 2017 programme from 18-27 May, under the theme ‘feed the mind,’ is impressively packed, with more than 270 school shows and 126 general public shows, including 20 South Australian premieres, four Australian premieres and nine world premiere events. Highlights are Mr Stink, a show adapted from the bestselling book by Little Britain’s David Walliams; Tetris, an award-winning acrobatic performance from the Netherlands, and Jump First, Ask Later, an inspiring urban dance production from Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Force Majeure.
It all kicks off with the opening spectacle of more than 2,000 children from primary schools across the state gathering outside Telstra Plaza, Adelaide Oval to raise their voices in unison as the Mighty Choir of Small Voices. They will sing their way across the Adelaide Oval Footbridge in an event called DreamBIG Singing – a mighty display of youthful creative prowess.
Over the following week, shows, events, activities, workshops and more seek to entertain, inspire, educate and motivate young South Australian minds. The festival transforms the entire city into a performance space, with events spanning out from the Adelaide Festival Centre hub to theatres and museums as well as Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Adelaide Zoo, a private house and even a cemetery.
There are attractions to enthrall all ages; babies will wonder at Rain, an interactive installation from performers and a cellist, while for the 5-12 age-group The Listies 6D serves up mirth with movie-inspired comedy, and teens are encouraged to reflect upon tougher topics with E Bully from the True North Theatre Ensemble, and Frozen Girl, experimental theatre tackling themes of isolation and separation.
Further signature events in DreamBIG include the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival featuring the best short films from all over the world, including some made by children themselves, and the multi-sensory production of Oddysea, designed specifically for children with complex and multiple needs.
The new-look festival is a matter of great pride for Adelaide Festival Centre, which assumed its custodianship in 2015. “We are delighted with the new look, the new name and the new shows,” says CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier. “More than 130,000 families visit the Festival Centre each year and our engagement with young people is a vital part of our overall programming. The opening event across the Adelaide Oval Footbridge is just the start to something truly spectacular.”
Susannah Sweeney says, “DreamBIG Children’s Festival is a celebration of our creative kids and their incredible minds. Some of the most important attributes we want children to develop for the future are communication, collaboration, problem solving, self-confidence, compassion, curiosity, imagination and creativity. And study after study has shown that an arts rich education is incredibly effective at developing all these vital skills.”
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