Monday, 28 September 2015

The Secret Life of Suitcases | Monkey Baa Theatre

My children are no longer little (17, 14 and 12). When they were younger we went to see a LOT of children's theatre. We still do but they also see a lot of adult theatre with me.  I  now keep my eye out for children's productions that I feel will carry across all ages. When my eldest son (17) was in the foyer of Griffin recently for The Witches he was not impressed to be surrounded by children running under his feet.  But after he saw Guy Edmonds on stage he quickly changed his tune. He loved it.

We were invited to the production of The Secret Life of Suitcases and I took along my youngest son(12) and his best friend. I was concerned they may be too old, but I was wrong.  The Secret Life of Suitcases had everyone in the audience drawn in from the beginning.   It was wonderful to sit in the audience to hear parents and children (of all ages) laugh, gasp and 'get' what was going on -  every element of the production worked.

The story follows Larry (in an almost George Orwell 1984 setting) - Larry is busy working, VERY busy. He has no time for anything outside work.  One day out of the blue a suitcase arrives that changes the course of his life. That is all I will reveal in this adventure as you will need to experience it for yourself.

Created by Lewis Hetherington and puppeteer Ailie Cohen (with a collaboration with Unicorn TheatreThe Secret Life of Suitcases is delightful  - please go see it with your kids - young or old.

The Secret Life of Suitcases
28 Sept - 2 October 2015
Monkey Baa
Darling Harbour Lend Lease Theatre

suitable for  4 years of age (and older!).

Learn more about this production here.
There's an app you can interact with after the performance!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Spot on Children's Festival | Riverside Theatre

The Spot On Children's Festival returns this year at Riverside Theatre - the festival offers performances and activities for all ages.  We love the Be Kind Rewind Film Festival that will feature classics that every family should experience together - The Goonies, The Karate Kid, The Princess Bride, Labyrinth, The Never Ending Story and E.T.

For younger kids (4 - 9 years) Curious Jac from Lilli Pang, a bilingual storyteller (performed in English with some Spanish, Hindi and Twi language)  brings her show to the festival about being curious.  Other performances for little ones include Ali McGregor's Jazzamatazz! and Lah- Lah Live in concert.

Our friends at the festival have given us a family pass  (four tickets)  to give away  to Curious Jac for Friday 2 October at 10am.  Just email before Friday 25 September with why you want your family to go Curious Jac.  (only the winner will be notified)  Terms.

Spot On Childrens Festival 
Riverside Theatre
29 September - 4 October 2015

Full program 

Be Kind: Re-wind Film Festival – 29 September, 10am to 6pm
Mr Snot Bottom’s Stinky, Silly Show! - 30 September to 1 October, 10:30am & 1pm daily (Relaxed Performance on 1 October at 1pm)
But Wait… There’s More! – 1 October, 7pm; 2 October, 1pm; 3 October, 1pm & 7pm
Ali McGregor’s Jazzamatazz! – 1 to 2 October, 10am & 12:30pm daily
Curious Jac – 2 to 3 October, 10:30am & 1pm daily (Relaxed Performance on 3 October at 1pm)
Lah-Lah Live in Concert – 3 October, 10am & 12:30pm

Sorcerers and Wizards: A Family Concert with the SSO Fellows – 4 October, 3pm

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Seymour Centre | Page to Stage over the school holidays

This school holidays the Seymour are bringing the pages of two popular children's books to the stage alongside free activities within their courtyard and foyers.

The Very Cranky Bear (Crank Bear) is being brought to life by South Australian theatre company Patch Theatre who are known for their delightful productions (Mr Mcgee and the Biting Flea, Emily likes to Bounce!, Who Sank the Boat?). We loved their production of  Me and my Shadow way back in 2011.

For older children,  Brisbane's Shake & Stir Theatre Co. will take on Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts.  My 11-year-old son is keen to catch this production and it is on our list for over the holidays.

What we love: Affordable family theatre.  Live music (The Vegetable Plot) and Parkour in the courtyard from Team 9Lives.

Seymour School Holiday Program
22 - 26 September
Tickets from $20.

Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize

Photographer: Jane Earle

The 2015 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize is the first national acquisitive prize for an original, freestanding sculpture of up to 80cm in any dimension. Over the exhibition, families can view the finalists artworks and also participate in family workshops and activities. 

We chatted with Fiona Hueston, a finalist in this years competition about her intriguing sculpture, Circle.

How did you create your sculpture Circle?

'Circle' consists of over 400 individually cut and handmade origami Fortune Teller forms made from white paper glued together with ethylene vinyl acetate and manipulated into a circle to create the final structure. The piece took over 50 hours to create.

What inspired you to create this piece?

Circle' evolved from my memory of a decision making game that I liked as a child called Fortune Teller, where the players must first choose a colour, then a number, which in turn would determine their fate and the hidden task in the middle. I created 100s of Fortune Tellers, played around and manipulate them until I discovered ‘Circle.’

I began this process by photographing interesting and repetitive geometrical patterns found in the built urban environment. The lines and angles of a roof, the patterns embedded into a cobbled street and the layers and forms created by a stack of newspapers. 

I realised that all these elements exist because someone had made a decision to create them, that life is built around hundreds of seemingly small, insignificant decisions to create a greater whole and that it is ongoing in nature.

The process of making hundreds of small decisions everyday determine the shape and form of our lives, ‘Circle’ is a metaphor for this process where the small individual forms of the Fortune Tellers brought together create the shape and form of the finished sculpture.

Why is paper your choice of medium?

I use paper because you take a flat piece of paper, which is very 2D, and create something 3D, and you can use to create many different shapes and forms and it can be layered. 
Also, I like to work with paper because it is very transportable, I can work anywhere, on a plane, on a train, in a cafe here in Sydney or in Paris. My studio is not limited to a set geographical location.

What are you working on next?

I have just finished a black circle called ‘Noir’ and I would like to make a stripy or multi-coloured circle next.

What advice would you give young artists who wanted to create their own paper sculpture?

With paper you have to be patient, and make sure your cutting and folding is accurate. Just play with it until you find something that looks and feels right.

Family Workshops include:

Weaving and Surface Design
with Artist in Residence, Edwina Straub
11 October | 1.00pm - 3.00pm

Crochet with waste
with Angela Van Boxtel
17 October | 1.00pm - 3.00pm

Three Dimensional Painting
with Artist in Residence, Julia Kennedy Bell
18 and 25 October | 1.00pm - 3.00pm

Fish Sculptures
with Angela Van Boxtel
24 October | 1.00 - 3.00pm

Artist Talks with
Ruby Aitchison, Veronica Andrus-Blaskievics, Mark Booth, Fleur Brett, Michelle Cawthorn, Adrian Clement, Melissa Coote, Tracey Deep, Lisa Giles, Fiona Hueston, Anita Larkin, Kendal Murray, John Nicholson, Belinda Winkler and Yioryios.
10 October | 2.00pm - 4.00pm

Venue: Woollahra Council 536 New South Head Road

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

KOFFIA 2015 | Family films

How to Steal a Dog - an adventure/action film for families will open the 6th Korean Film Festival on Wednesday 12 August in Sydney (screens nationally).

The festival are running a competition online to win tickets to the opening night screening - Take a photo of your pet and hashtag it with #KOFFIA2015 on facebook for your chance to win.

The beautiful animation from director Han Jin-wan Clearer Than You Think will also screen.

Both films will screen with English subtitles.
Korean Film Festival KOFFIA
from 12 August

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Monkey Baa | The Witches

Monkey Baa's The Witches is theatre at its most theatre like.  Theatre stripped bare.  Based on Roald Dahl's book of the same name, one actor (Guy Edmonds) takes on the entire story, playing over ten characters with limited costumes and props. 

My almost six-year-old sat on my lap and from the moment the actor started performing he was enthralled. My ten and twelve-year-olds enjoyed it too.  I enjoyed that they had to work for understanding.  That there were no fancy props, nothing literal.  It was as far from television you could get and while the little one got a bit lost sometimes at the end he understood enough and he experienced a version of what might be becoming the lost art of storytelling.

In our after-show discussions the children liked the effects, which are pretty limited, but my ten-year-old also pointed out the skill of a one-person show being able to tell an entire book of characters and this, I think, is why it's worth taking your kids to see it.

After a  sell-out season at the Griffin Theatre - The Witches makes a return to Monkey Baa in Darling Harbour over the school holidays.

Sarah and family.

DATES & TIMES: 30th June - 4th July (10:30am, 1:00pm)
VENUE: Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre
(across from the Children’s Playground in Darling Harbour)
TICKETS: $25pp / $90 Family 4 / $110 Family 5 / $23pp Groups 10+

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The return of the family program at Sydney Film Festival

With the disappearance of the family program from the Sydney Film Festival in previous years, I was delighted to see its reappearance in 2015. Families had the opportunity to experience a selection of international films, Australian documentaries and animation screenings.

There was a gap for young adults (14- 17 years) but younger audiences were definitely catered for this year.

Wide Open Sky

'This isn’t X-factor, this is Moorambilla' – Michelle Leonard

Lisa Nicol first heard about Michelle Leonard’s story from another mother at her child’s school.  Perusing the story led to the documentary Wide Open Sky that follows the  Moorambilla Voices regional choir concert from the audition process, and everything else in between led by the charismatic Artistic Director Michelle Leonard. The choir consists of kids from rural NSW that don’t normally have access to music education opportunities.

Lisa allows enough screen time for the audience to get to know the kids and the team behind the choir.

The screening we attended was a full house of a young and young at heart audience.

Wide Open Sky is a beautiful and inspiring Australian story.

Gayby Baby

The documentary shares the lives of four same-sex families through the eyes of the children (aged 10 – 12).

Gus is obsessed about wrestling, Ebony prepares for her audition for a performing arts school, Matt questions religion and Graham struggles with learning how to read.

Gayby Baby is an important and timely documentary for your kids to see to show that families are built on love rather than convention.

‘I don’t think it actually makes me that unique; it’s just different for every person growing up.   The people who raise you and make you who you are today are your family.' - Ebony

Songs of the Sea

Animated family films are getting churned out one after another – every school holidays another batch of kids films are released leading to them all starting to look like the same film.

The enchanting Songs of the Sea offers more depth and beauty to children’s animation avoiding the cookie cutter formulation.   A follow-up to The Secret of the Kells (screened within 2009 Sydney Film Festival family program) director Tom Moore has returned with an enchanting story based on the ancient Celtic myth of the Selkies told through hand-drawn imagery.

The story centers around Saoirse and Ben, two siblings who live with their father, a lighthouse keeper. Magical secrets about their mother are discovered as Saoirse and Ben find their way back home.

The Crow’s Egg also screened at the festival. It will be rescreening with the Travelling Film Festival – Newcastle 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Sydney Film Festival 2015 | Children and Family

This morning the 2015 Sydney Film Festival announced a preview of  27 films and 10 documentaries featuring in their 62nd film festival (the full program will be announced on the 6 May at 11am). We are very excited that also revealed is the addition of an enhanced family/kids program. The family films announced in the preview include The Crow's Egg from India and Songs of the Sea from Ireland.

The festival is a wonderful opportunity to introduce your children to films that wouldn't normally make it the cinema in Australia and to also open the door to how other children live around the world.

We are looking forward to the full program announcement in May!

The Crow's Egg
  • Director M. Manikandan
  • Original title Kaakkaa Muttai
  • Country India
Dubbed the next 'Slumdog Millionaire', this funny and charming film from South India is for both adults and older kids. Two mischievous and resourceful brothers living in poverty in a Chennai slum see an ad for pizza and become determined to taste this magical food for the very first time, setting off an adventure full of both triumphs and setbacks.

Songs of the Sea

  • Director Tomm Moore
  • Country Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Denmark

    This enchanting treat for families is inspired by Ireland's rich Celtic folklore. Ben and his fairy-like sister, Saoirse, live on a rocky island, where seals bob up to inspect their every activity. Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars, this legend-inspired tale is chock-full of glorious imagery, captivating critters and lilting Gaelic music.

Sydney Film Festival
June 3 - 14 June 2015

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Vivid Sydney 2015 | Youth and Families

Vivid Light is always a major event on every family calendar. My stand out this year is Light Origami which invites viewers to explore the nature of reality by entering a giant 3D kaleidoscope.

This year we will also be including our children in our Vivid Sydney Ideas and Music adventures.

My daughter  (13 years) is a young creator - and I'm curious to learn more about her world. We will be heading to #NOFILTER  -  a 'conversation inspired by and showcasing the work of young creators and explore the distinct point of view youth can provide in the creative process. Young producers, animators, photographers and social media personalities will share insights into their own creative process, discuss what connects with their audiences, and offer key takeaways for anyone looking to learn from the future stars of content creation.'

She will also be attending An evening with Morrissey with her dad within Vivid Music.

My eldest son (16 years) will be into Feedback - A Music Conference for Young People - he is yet to explore the Vivid Music program.

And for younger kids - Archikids Play[ground] will be right up their alley in the Hyde Park Barracks as it transformed into an interactive playground. Not sure yet if it will be too young for my 11 year old son.

Dress Up Attack! = indie rock performances + interactive activities --- for young kids and their parents/carers.

The MCA Zine Fair covers all my kids.... the fair is a great introduction and inspiration into what they can create on their own and distribute.

So much to explore over May and June!

Creative school holidays

We are always impressed when we visit the QLD Gallery of Modern Art and its surrounds - jump off at South Brisbane and you have run of the galleries, library, museum and theatre.

The David Lynch exhibition - In Between Worlds is a great exploration for older teens. We can make a future  - Japanese Art after 1989 is perfect for all ages. Don't stop there - keep moving through the gallery to find amazing worlds for your kids to get lost in.

Back in Sydney, the Australian Centre of Photography has extensive workshops for kids that love to express their creativity through photography. Photograms, darkroom techniques, foto rally adventures, pinhole and camera craft.

The Art Gallery of NSW have events related to their The Photograph and Australia exhibition. Drop in and make retro cardboard cameras for younger children and for teens an instagram competition. Art Express also runs until the 19 April.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Art Month Sydney | Youth and Families

Last night we attended the opening evening of Art Month Sydney 2015 at the National Art School. The family program is full of architecture, photography and art experiences for your young ones. It is also wonderful to branch out the family program for older children.

Art Month Sydney - March 2015
various venues

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sydney Festival 2015 for families

The 2015 Sydney Festival opens next week and has again another wonderful year for families with young and/or older children. Masquerade will be on the top of most families list  and Tabac Rouge will be magnificent.
Ali McGregor's Jazzamatazz! will knock the kids socks off and The Luck Child looks like fun.

This year we will be catching The Kitchen - in 2010 we all went as a family for Roysten Abel's The Manganiyar Seduction and we were all wowed.

There are plenty of free options across the city to keep you busy over the school holidays as well.
The Vegetable Plot - Melodies and vegetables
Hotbed Designs - Blocks prints and fabric paint
Dear Hope Street - A modern day message in a bottle
Australian Museum in the Village - Discover Hyde Park as a scientist
City of Sydney Lawn Library - Books take a holiday outside
Cool down with the Waterfall Swing at Darling Harbour
More free options.

To explore the full family festival program visit:

Sydney Festival
8 - 26 Jan 2015

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Penguins of Madagascar

My youngest son (10) and his friends headed to the preview of the new Penguins of Madagascar film. We have seen all the Madagascar films and the Penguins have also been our favourite characters in the Dreamworks franchise.

The animation follows Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private as they to attempt to save the world from the villain, Dr Octavius Brine. Penguins of Madagascar is a fun ride with plenty of side jokes to keep the adults in the audience from drifting off.

A great school holiday filler.

Penguins of Madagascar 
Released News Year Day
(to check if this film is suitable for your child visit the IMDB parents guide)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Australian Ballet | The Nutcracker

Last week my daughter (13) and I went along to our first ballet and we were delighted that is was a dress rehearsal for  The Australian Ballet's production of The NutcrackerThe dress rehearsal was a wonderful insight into the energy and commitment that it takes to pull off the perfection that flows on stage from opening night.

The Nutcracker is a beautiful Christmas story set on Christmas Eve where the audience joins Claire on her adventures in a world conjured up by the magician, Drosselmeyer.

The evening ended with French lemon and sugar crepes from the Sarazine food truck.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Wizard of Oz 3D | IMAX Darling Harbour | Giveaway

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz -  IMAX Darling harbour will be presenting this family classic in 3D. We love revisiting classics on the big screen and this will be one that will be catching over the school holidays.

CLOSED Our friends at IMAX have given us two family passes (2 adults and 2 Children) to giveaway to their Dec 7th (10.30am) screening. For your chance email before 3 Dec and tell us who is you fav Wizard of Oz character/s and why - ours are the lolly pop kids.  (winners will be notified by email - other details)

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Tiger Who Came to Tea | Sydney Opera House

The Tiger Who Came to Tea was my daughters favourite book growing up. We would read it over and over again - even though she is now 13 we have pulled her old copy out and it has been wonderful to revisit.

Sophie has an unexpected guest and tea-time mayhem ensues. The Tiger Who Came to Tea is based on Judith Kerr’s picture book and includes magic, sing-a-long songs. It is playing at the Sydney Opera House from December 10 to 28. On behalf of the Sydney Opera House, we have one family pass (2 adults, 2 children) to giveaway to the 10.30am performance on December 10. To enter, email and let me know who you would like to invite to tea - the more imaginative the better! Competition closes Wed, December 3. Good Luck! CLOSED
(The winner will be notified by email)

Friday, 14 November 2014

Japanese Film Festival | families and youth

The 2014 Japanese Film Festival has arrived in Sydney. We love this festival and we have put together a list of films that are classified.  The live action version of Kiki's Delivery Service will most likely be on top of the list for families but for older children there are some wonderful films/documentaries to catch.

Kiki's Delivery Service (G)

For the full 2014 festival program visit

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Our school holidays

  • The Walking Neighbourhood at Art and About Sydney. 
  • The Witches at Griffin Theatre - the marvellous Guy Edmonds made this Roald Dahl adaption his own.
  • Stop Making Sense - My youngest son and I celebrated the 30th anniversary of Talking Heads Stop Making Sense at Golden Age Cinema
  • Paper Planes film preview - which inspired paper planes being made throughout the holidays. If you walk past our house you will spot the paper planes left scattered along our street (our review will be out closer to the films release).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sydney Children's Festival | BIG

Our friends over at BIG will be at the Sydney Children's Festival today..... say hi to them at the Lawn library from 12pm.  Join them in making a tiny inside/outside portrait or create a response on a side by side postcard.

Also on todays list of fun things to do at the festival includes Hula hooping, KAPOW!, Paper, Torch Torch! workshop, Disco - Au Go Go  ++

The festival runs until the 28 September at the Seymour Centre.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Walking Neighbourhood | Art and About Sydney

The Walking Neighbourhood is a concept that premiered in Brisbane in 2012 and involved children leading tours in their own neighbourhood - giving people a rare insight into the world of kids living in inner city suburbs.


Today we took The Walking Neighbourhood tour in Kings Cross that is running within the Art and About program. We all met in the Departure Lounge in the Rex Centre and selected which tour we wanted to take.  The departure lounge is an interactive waiting station where you can view the gallery of found items from previous tours, draw on the large map of Kings Cross, learn more out the tour guides and share what you love about Kings Cross. We all decided that the Underground Mystery tour was the one for us. (There were many other tours to choose from) Our tour guides Finn and Nick (aged 11) were confident and proud of their neighbourhood as they lead us around their underground hangouts.

The Walking Neighbourhood moves to Redfern next week. To  book tickets (free) or to get more information visit: Art and About Sydney.

Thanks Finn and Nick for sharing your world.