• Aseel Tayah

HOT: Lullabies Under the Stars, Artplay, Melbourne

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

Lullabies Under the Stars at ArtPlay is a poignant 45-minute session that gives Under 5s and their carers the chance to connect with different cultures through simple songs of lullabies. This special session was created by Aseel Tayah, Caleena Sansbury, Max Schoolar Root, Mahmoud Salame and Hannah Murphy through ArtPlay’s New Ideas Lab which supports artists and children to work together to develop new arts experiences.

The ArtPlay team welcome us, opening with a Welcome to Country. We are then ushered into a room that has been separated by curtains – the first area is where we can leave our prams and remove shoes and socks. There is lots of space for prams of all sizes!

Then it’s time for Lullabies Under the Stars. Melbourne is a multicultural city, but how often do we have the chance to step into the cultures of others? Aseel, Caleena and Max open by introducing themselves; Aseel is Palestinian, Caleena is a Ngarrindjeri, Narrunga and Kaurna woman from South Australia and Max has mixed European heritage. Then the curtains are drawn and Caleena leads us towards the performance space by dance as Max and Aseel provide musical accompaniment.

the performance space is a circle set beneath a tent canopy, lit up with fairy lights and lamps – making this session difficult to photograph but full of magical feeling.

Aseel and Caleena lead the participatory performance, setting the scene in Arabic and English, while Max accompanies on the guitar. Aseel tells us that the stars have disappeared and we need to work together to bring them back! We get the chance to play instruments before realising that the only way to bring them back is through singing lullabies.

Each of the facilitators shares a song in their native tongue before carers (and children!) are invited to share their own lullabies. Some sing in English and others in other languages; in our group we hear songs in Indonesian, Greek and French.

The stars return and it’s time for star-gazing! A rather-realistic animation lights up the “sky” (a screen, cleverly hidden within the canopy) above us and shows us different “constellations”; we are able to spot a turtle, camel, rabbit and even a butterfly.

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