Victoria Square. 16 Feb 2018
The white tents and food stands don't look too prepossessing from the Victoria Square outside. The magic is within.
Grounded is a concept playground - a pop-up Fringe precinct "for kids and their adults”.
It is called “Grounded” because it puts one in touch with the ground. Bare feet on the grass are most acceptable.
There is a strong Aboriginal element to which end Vic Square should be recognised as Tarntanyangga, the dreaming place of the red kangaroo.
Grounded opened on Friday night with the Lord Mayor, Martin Haese and Grounded guru, David Sefton, formerly director of the Adelaide Festival, and a formal smoking and Welcome To Country ceremony which included the most utterly beautiful Of Desert and Sea Dance from Kurruru.
Grounded has a full program of its own throughout the Fringe. It includes a Supermassive Music Festival featuring Sara Blasko, HeapsGood Friends, Solli Raphael, DJ Trip and others.
On February 24 it presents a special outdoor screening of Windmill’s wonderful Girl Asleep and an intriguing Megaphone Project with red megaphones. It also features a bar and shaded places to sit for the grownups, food stands from Central Market and art installations.
Most importantly of all from this critic’s perspective, there are performances in the tents. One is puppet theatre. The other was launched on opening night - Saltbush - Children’s Cheering Carpet.
This is the jewel in the crown.
This is the must-see for children.
It is not just about seeing. It is immersive and interactive. It is earthy. It is ethereal. It is joyful. It is Indigenous. It is universal.
The Cheering Carpet is an illuminated stage on which a world of nature and mythology is most expertly and imaginatively projected.
This lovely thing is part of a series created through Insite Arts and Compagnia TPO with Aboriginal artists Lou Bennett, Deon Hastie and Delwyn Mannix.
The audience must shed shoes before entering the tent wherein dwells the Carpet.
Seated in the dark on broad tiers, to a soundscape of birds and song, they see the carpet come to life as Aboriginal storyline art. It becomes a river, rippling and running beautifully while two dancers dip and splash in it. It becomes a giant turtle. It becomes the glorious night sky of vivid stars.
Throughout the transformations, the children are invited onto its surface with the dancers to chase the lights, to peck as emus and bound as kangaroos and to shelter beneath the canopy of stars.
Their engagement is total. It is a joy to behold.
Interactive kids’ performance doesn’t get much better than this.
It gets five stars in a Milky Way.
When: 16 to 25 Feb
Where: Tarntanyangga (Victoria Square)
Program details: groundedadelaide.com