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Thousands of students celebrate DreamBIG Children’s Festival as opening event is live streamed into South Australian classrooms for the first time

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

More than 1500 students from 17 schools across South Australia will celebrate the opening of DreamBIG Children’s Festival today, in an opening spectacular at Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre.

As part of The Mighty Choir of Small Voices, students will sing My Island Home and be led in a mass dance event by youth dance ensemble, Dusty Feet Mob, before watching high-energy performances from some exciting DreamBIG artists, including Shaun Parker and Company and THNDO.

In a DreamBIG first, the Opening Event will be live streamed into classrooms across the state, allowing an additional 2500 students to join the celebrations, from 27 regional schools including Loxton North Primary, Kangaroo Island Community Education and Whyalla’s Long Street Primary, bringing the total number of students viewing the Opening Event to 4000 children from 44 schools.

Taking over Adelaide Festival Centre and surrounds until May 27, this year’s DreamBIG Children’s Festival focuses on the theme ‘Our World,’ and features more than 50 shows, activities, and exhibitions for audiences from babies to teenagers.

DreamBIG Children’s Festival Co-Creative Producers Susannah Sweeney and Georgi Paech: “More than 2.5 million children have participated in DreamBIG Children’s Festival since it began in 1974 (formerly Come Out Festival), and it remains an intrinsic part of growing up in South Australia.

“We hope that participating in DreamBIG will encourage young people to become creative, compassionate, and thoughtful citizens by inspiring them to look at and learn from Our World.”

To celebrate Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th anniversary, this year’s DreamBIG will feature The BIGGEST BIG Family Weekend yet from 20-21 May across Adelaide Festival Centre and surrounds, including free events for children of all ages, exhibitions, workshops, food trucks by Fork On The Road, a joyous Big Sing-a-long from Tutti Choir, and the BIG Family Weekend Gala - a variety hour celebrating some of South Australia’s best young performers.

Local artists Lucy Timbrell and Mali Isabel have worked with South Australian students to imagine what the world will be like on their own 50th birthday. For a glimpse into the future, don’t miss the On My 50th Birthday Exhibition in the Festival Theatre Foyer Galleries until May 26.

Families can step behind the scenes of Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50-year history by taking part in digital scavenger hunt The Show Must Go On! Posters that can be magically brought to life when scanned with a phone are dotted around hidden locations at Adelaide Festival Centre. A special reward awaits those who find all five. 

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM: “We welcome teachers, students and families to Our World, a place of celebration, joy and wonder. The world’s first children’s festival, DreamBIG has inspired the children of South Australia for decades. We look forward to sharing this year’s program with the next generation.”

Interstate shows making their Adelaide debut include; Erth’s Prehistoric World from world-renowned Erth Visual and Physical Inc – bringing giant dinosaurs to life on the Dunstan Playhouse stage, and ARCO, an award-winning show about living with autism in a unique collaboration between two neurodiverse men and WA Youth Theatre Company.

International shows include Northern Ireland’s Removed, a critically acclaimed story of a young man’s experiences in a state authority system, and Norway’s We Come from Far, Far Away, which uses shadow puppetry, storytelling, comedy and live music to tell an epic story of people, places, survival and friendship, performed in a traditional Mongolian Yurt inside Adelaide Festival Centre’s Drama Centre Rehearsal Room.

In an Adelaide premiere, two classic Australian stories will come to life on stage - Monkey Baa’s award-winning adaptation of Possum Magic and Australian Chamber Orchestra’s immersive and intimate performance of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.

From South Australian theatre company ActNow, Here and There brings together six stories, from six different and diverse artists - three Australians, as well as one each from Malaysia, India, and Singapore. This world-premiere performance uses live-streaming technology to connect the local artists with an artist from their home country, in an immersive performance that bridges the gap between the places we call home.​​

Other local performances include AWGIE Award winning show Claire Della and the Moon offering young audiences a metaphoric vocabulary to positively manage their own mental health; interactive theatre experience Guthrak inspired by Dungeons & Dragons; and AJZ productions’ I AM exploring the ultimate question - "What is my one true purpose?"

Babies and toddlers can join in on the fun with Sally Chance Dance’s The Thing That Matters, a dance performance presented to live music, and Lullaby Project Australia’s A Song For Your Child, giving families the opportunity to create a brand-new, personal lullaby that will last a lifetime.

Minister for Arts, the Hon. Andrea Michaels MP: “It is incredibly exciting to celebrate the opening of the DreamBIG Children’s Festival. South Australia is the festival state and it is wonderful that thousands of students from all over the state will be immersed in arts and cultural activities.

“Our state is known for its deep love of the arts and it is festivals like this that help spark that joy and creativity so we can continue that connection through the next generation. I wish all attendees and performers a magnificent 10 days of cultural riches at the fabulous DreamBIG Children’s Festival. Enjoy.”

Formerly known as Come Out Festival which began in 1974, DreamBIG Children’s Festival has two programs – one for schools and another for families and public. It is held every two years and is proudly presented by Adelaide Festival Centre. This year, DreamBIG Children’s Festival has attracted more than 23,000 bookings from more than 195 schools, including 29 who are travelling from regional South Australia to attend the festival.

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