- Touring Repertoire
- In Development
- In the past
- Support Us
- Venue Hire
- Contact Us
We Built This City
We Built This City is an interactive play space for families which celebrates absolute simplicity and the power of children’s imaginations. A giant public construction site, We Built This City uses thousands and thousands of cardboard boxes and the energy and ingenuity of kids and families to build a magnificent imagined city in one day. Buildings go up, are pulled down, redesigned, extended, walked through and reconstructed; the participants make tunnels, archways, towers and labyrinths. At the end of the event, we ritualistically build a final cityscape, using every box in the space. Then everyone joins in trampling the city down into a gloriously chaotic heap of cardboard rubble.
Live music or a DJ underscores the action as participants are guided by performers in the roles of construction workers who facilitate free play, perform as hilarious characters and sometimes set tasks that bring people together to build in unity. We Built This City simultaneously places children in the role of performer, creator, audience and architect. It is not a play… it is play.
With We Built This City we see, over and over, the power of non-prescriptive, creative expression and its effect on children and their adults. For parents the event reminds them irresistibly of their own childhood when a cardboard box in the backyard was all they needed for endless fun. They can see how effortlessly their children engage with the material and can play all day if given the chance – they are reminded of the limitless scope of imagination, and this can be a profound and emotional experience. This is a happy event, where cooperation, compromise and relationships as individuals and as community are brought into play.
In each place it is presented, the city’s unique aesthetic and personality unconsciously comes through in the building style of the participants. It is a fascinating reflection of immediate cultural recognition: in Sydney – bridges and iconic buildings, in Singapore - skyscrapers, in Melbourne - big houses and backyards, in Washington – monuments, and so it goes on.
We Built This City is Polyglot’s most enduring work, touring continuously since its 2001 premiere. Over 30,000 children have participated in its many seasons, which include the Royal National Theatre London (as part of the LIFT Festival), Macrobert Centre Stirling Scotland, Kennedy Center in Washington, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Draiocht Theatre Dublin, Awesome Festival Perth, Sydney Opera House, Esplanade Theatre Singapore, and Act3 Children’s Festival Singapore, always with critical and popular acclaim.
"Whilst We Built This City is pure fun on one level, its interactive and collaborative nature also points out how the urban environment contains many interconnected lives, finally emphasising the impermanence of everything around us when the installation is eventually crushed flat by its creators." - London International Festival of Theatre
For booking enquiries, please contact:
+61 3 8060 4680
Laura Colby (North America)
We Built This City was commissioned by the City of Melbourne in 2001.