Budding young engineers invited to “build your own city”

A popular Melbourne export that combines kids, creativity and cardboard boxes is returning home, setting up shop not far from where the phenomenon began 20 years ago.

Created by Polyglot Theatre and debuting at City Square in 2001, children’s event We Built This City has travelled to venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Royal National Theatre in London and the National Theatres of Taiwan and Korea.

This December, in partnership with the Metro Tunnel Creative Program and Melbourne Fringe Festival, it’s spending two days at University Square in Carlton.

Kids and families will have thousands of cardboard boxes at their disposal to create a model city of their own.

DJs will be on hand to set the scene, while “construction workers” will help children achieve their engineering goals.

The event ends with the cardboard city being shaken and stomped to the ground.

Polyglot Theatre artistic director Sue Giles said We Built This City was an unconventional playground.

“It draws its inspiration from the city around it,” she said.

“Having toured all over the world with this production, it has been fascinating to watch the children and families in each city mirror the architecture of their surrounds.”

“In Washington, we saw participants create sprawling galleries and monuments; in Hong Kong, towering boxes inspired by the needle-like skyscrapers.”

Giles said it was fitting to bring the event back to a construction zone in Melbourne for the 20th anniversary.

“We Built This City first broke ground in Melbourne’s City Square, where construction is happening for the new Town Hall Station as part of the Metro Tunnel Project,” she said.

“After building cities beyond imagination abroad, it’s coming back to where it all began for this special 20th anniversary presentation. Well, just up the road at University Square in Carlton!”

Melbourne Fringe Festival creative director and CEO Simon Abrahams feels a personal connection to the project.

“We Built This City is simply one of the most extraordinary artworks I have ever experienced,” he said.

“I toured England, Ireland, Scotland, the USA and Korea with the work as producer and performer with Polyglot for many years, and it’s been a long-held ambition to bring it back to Melbourne.”

“This anniversary presentation is a gift back to Melbourne – we’ve earned it.”

Entry to We Built This City is free but ticketed, with some spots set aside for healthcare workers at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women’s, Peter Doherty Institute, Murdoch Children’s Research and others.

One-hour sessions run on Saturday, December 4 and Sunday, December 5 at 10am, 11am, 2pm and 3pm, with COVID-safe measures in place •

 

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