Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Theatre in other langauges

One of my passions, when writing plays, is to combine more than one language in the script. Most of my plays, even the English ones, contain a few phrases of other languages. One of my more challenging plays used a combination English and Japanese. The show was 2-hours long, half the show was in English and half the show was in Japanese. Before writing the script I worked with 3 English and 3 Japanese actors for a month. We shared common cultural elements and common words (for example hundreds of Japanese words that have been adopted into the English language such as tsunami, kabuki, origami, kimono, miso, nashi, sake, soy, tempura, akido, judo, zen, futon, honcho, shiatsu and many others). I led the actors through many exploratory games and improvisations and at the end of the month I wrote the play; a love story about a Japanese girl and a Phillipino boy. The show explored many issues including racism and bullying. I worked with a Japanesw writer for an additional month, helping me with the Japanese script and language. We ended up with a play that was in both English and Japanese - some of the characters could only speak English, some only Japanese and some could speak both languages. We then toured this show or 2-months in England and 2-months in Japan. This was a fantastic project and really well received in both countries in schools, arts centres and theatres. It premiered at Sadlers Wells in London England and in the Kanagawa Theatre Complex, Tokyo Japan.

One of my lasting memories of this tour was a typical response I got from English students and teachers compared to Japanese students and teachers. Many English teachers/students complained about the Japanese language and wanted the play to be in English only whereas ALL the Japanese students/teachers loved the combination. Many of the English students/teachers would say things like "I could only understand half the play, you should have made it all in English". Many of the Japanese students/teachers would say "Mixing the languages made us think more about other ways of communicating".

I was thinking about this as I am about to go to Poland and I want to see some theatre there. Lodz has several theatres and there appears to be a theatre festival while I am there, which is great. Everything is in Polish, which is great (I don't speak Polish). Three theatres that took my eye are the Great Theatre ( currently open but undergoing some renovation, the Jaracz Theatre ( and the New Theatre ( The choice of shows ranges from Tolstoy, Madadme Butterfly, Krol Ryszard III (Shakespeare's Richard III), ZIEMIA OBIECANA, Mayday 2, The Polish Dance Theatre and Syvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant perfrming 4 of their pieces (Shift, Solo, Two and Push -, which looks fantastic, but unfortunately I arrive just to late to see this one. So I have opted for a show called 'HISZPAƃSKIE FASCYNACJE', which translates as 'Spanish Fascination'. Google translate offers this: The show is inspired by the Spanish culture in music opera, ballet and rich literature of songs. In addition to fragments of the more famous works of composers such as Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, and Verdi Minkus, there will be some songs less popular but equally beautiful and original, whose authors include Manuel de Falla, Jose Serrano, Pablo Luna and Edouard Lalo. The intention of the implementers of the latest release is to show how great source of inspiration for composers from different eras and cultures were the motives of Iberian, and how great is the richness of their interpretation.

Now that sounds brilliant! I will let you know what it is like after I have seen it.If you are interested to see pictures from the show and a cast list then please follow this link:

I believe we really need to encourage peopel to see and experience the arts in many different languages and from many different cultures. Lets not forget that we are celebrating Shakespeare at the moment and there are hundreds of Shakespeare performances going on all over the UK right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment