DreamBIG 2023, the world’s longest running children’s festival, will return to Adelaide Festival Centre this May 17-27. The family program, launched today, focuses on the theme ‘Our World,’ and features more than 50 shows, activities, and exhibitions for audiences from babies to teenagers across 10 days.
There will be quite a number of interesting things children and families can see, do and interact with, including: giant life-like dinosaurs, interactive light installations, thought provoking theatre and more from the family program which includes eight world premieres, one Australian premiere and seven Adelaide premieres.
For us Asian Aussies, it is great to see some of our community being involved in one of the major events for the festival. “Here and There” is an extraordinary and captivating performance that brings together six stories, from six different and diverse artists, live streamed between Australia, Malaysia, India, and Singapore. From critically acclaimed South Australian theatre company ActNow, Here and There transports the audience into the lives of artists from across the world, into their homes and places of belonging.
To envision what this may look like, imagine a human library and add on livestreams and technology. Three of the Asian Australian artists sharing their stories are creatives Danielle Lim, Zhao Liang and Parvyn Singh. Reading all their biographies, it is clear they are accomplished, busy and are fully committed to both their local, creative and Asian Australian communities.
In a recent interview with Being Asian Australian, Lim, Liang and Singh introduced who they are and spoke about why it was important that they get involved with the ‘DreamBIG’ Children’s Festival.
“I am a proud creative, who mainly performs and experiments with my musical instrument – the Guzheng. I believe in harmony through art and my work often tells of my personal stories and reflections”, Liang said.
“I’ve always looked at the DreamBIG Children’s Festival program, and with two kids of my own, I’ve taken them to a couple of shows in the past too. It’s exciting to be part of the program this year, and it’s a chance for me to perform for younger audiences, especially some of whom will potentially be my kids’ friends!”
“I am a Malaysian-Australian actor and theatre maker. I am so excited to be part of the DreamBIG Children’s Festival this year. I think it is important to start conversations about culture from a young age, and share stories about migration, as this is integral to the discovery of one’s identity. I am aware that this show could very well be the first theatre experience for some of our audience. Hence, I hope that our personal stories of home and belonging inspires them to explore their roots, sparking their curiosity of the world and their place in it”, Lim mentioned.
“I am a proud Adelaidian and born to parents both of whom were born in Malaysia of Punjabi Indian Heritage. I’m all about expressing myself through music and dance and connecting with others through art”, Singh proudly expressed.
“I am passionate about helping future generations navigate a more balanced and even understanding of the beautifully diverse range of cultures that make up Australian society. To heal and share my experience, providing a counterpoint from the dominant western culture that has taken hold of these lands since colonisation. I am proud of my Sikh/South Asian identity and encourage others to learn in hope that by knowing more about other cultures we can understand each other better and make the world a better place.”
Being a creative is not an easy career path, and as children of Asian/Asian migrant parents, the majority of us get warned NOT to choose a career path in the creative industry. No doubt, Liang, Lim and Singh like other 1.5 – 2nd generation Asian/Asian Aussies have come to that juncture, but chose with their heart and their passion and pursued their career in the creative industry. In addition, they also give back and encourage future generations of Asian/Asian Aussies and other young people to look to this industry as they’re livelihoods.
For Lim, who grew up for most of her early childhood in Malaysia, being creative and acting was something which gave her fond memories of making her family laugh and later finding out how much she loved Drama as a school subject when she came to Australia as a teenager.
“Growing up in Malaysia, I loved performing skits for my family and making them laugh. When I moved to Australia at 13, drama became my favourite subject because it helped me build confidence and make friends. I also discovered a lot of joy in connecting with people through acting. Being an actor enables me to express myself through different characters, and being an artist makes me feel fulfilled, especially knowing that the work I make and the stories I tell have the ability to impact others and shape their outlook of the world.”
“My biggest accomplishments include graduating from drama school in 2021 and making my professional theatrical debut in 2022. I have also been successful in receiving funding to develop my own work, including a fellowship grant from Carclew to fund my first professionally solo-devised project. I feel grateful and proud to be building my own creative career and paving my own way in this industry.”
Singh’s journey into the creative industry is an interesting one as music is a family affair for him. She started singing with his father growing up and from there she went onto having a band, being a musician in her own right and having been nominated for an ARIA.
“My greatest career accomplishment to date was being nominated for the ARIA for ‘Best World Music Album of the Year’ 2022 for my debut solo album ‘Sa’. I have been a musician my whole life singing with my father Dya Singh, then my big band The Bombay Royale and now as an artist in my own right. It is a pathway that in some ways I feel I was born into. I love being an artist and can’t see myself doing anything else. I am really proud of how hard I continue to work not only in creating new art and performance but also in the managing and administration of my career as a small business. Being able to provide for myself and my family as a full-time artist in itself is a great accomplishment.”
For Liang, being creative means expanding her mind and finding ways to experiment with her craft.
“I think I am feeling more and more creative and keen to experiment, especially outside of my usual music compositions and performances – I am really keen to explore and open myself up to textures, visuals, and cross artform these days. To work with Actnow Theatre on Here and There is the best as we also look at digital art-making in the mix!”
Finally, touching back onto the DreamBIG children’s Festival, here are some of the fond memories these three awesome Asian Australian creatives have when they were children.
“Back in Singapore when I was growing up, my dad had 8 siblings, and my mum had 11 (in Malaysia). Coming from a big family, I loved the weekly gatherings with my cousins at Grandma’s place, and also it grew further into unique relationships with my aunts and uncles since my youth till now. It has made me very much family focused and oriented,” Liang expressed.
“I have very fond memories of heading out on school excursions to see performances from people such and Peter Coombe at Adelaide’s “Come Out’ Festival (now called DreamBIG Children’s Festival). I went to Belair Primary School where we had some excellent and passionate teachers providing programs such as Jump Rope for Heart and an aerobics dance group that often had opportunities to perform at places such as the Royal Show and community events. We also had an excellent choir that performed in the front row at the Festival Centre. My parents were very active in the community and helped by coming into my school and sharing our culture with my classmates and teachers”, said Singh.
“I have a very close relationship to my relatives and growing up, I would spend a lot of time playing with my cousins at my grandmother’s house. We would choreograph silly dances to ABBA songs and sneak into my Aunt’s room to play solitaire on the only computer in the house. There was always lots of excitement whenever we got to have sleepovers at each other’s houses, because it meant that we never had to say goodbye.” Lim mentioned.
The DreamBIG Children’s Festival starts on May 17, 2023 through to May 27, 2023 in Adelaide and is presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre. More information on events and programs can be found at: https://dreambig.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au. The Here and There performance will be held on May 20. More details can be found here: https://dreambig.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/whats-on/here-and-there?dateId=20-05-2023&performanceId=EDBG2023748HA.
Images provided by the Adelaide Festival Centre