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Performance Process and the Politics of Multilingualism – a two part round table discussion

14th December 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm


On the Economics and Politics of multilingualism in contemporary theatre and translation practices

Monday 14th December, 6 – 7.45pm GMT book via Eventbrite.

This next event in our Borderlines 2020-2021 Seminar Series involves a collaboration between DMU’s Drama, Dance and Performance Studies Research Institute, the University of Central Florida and Reflections on Contemporary Performance Process (Julia Listengarten and Alissa Clarke’s new book series for Bloomsbury Methuen Drama).

Julia and Alissa are developing a virtual companion for their book series, Reflections on Contemporary Performance Process for Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. The companion is focused on the ways in which performance processes could and do offer hope, care, joy and productive action amidst a time of great turbulence and extremes. The virtual companion will involve a series of virtual events that are attended in real time, but also recorded and placed online, and will lead into a print companion. We are delighted to invite you to this second event for the virtual companion.

This two-part roundtable discussion places in dialogue a range of speakers based in the UK, US, Canada and South Africa. They have been invited to provide a short provocation that considers how performance processes engage with, and are shaped by, the performance politics of multilingualism. Their provocations and the discussion and debate that will follow will range across issues of race, ableism, identity, economics, power, immigration, exile, cross-culturalism, audience reception, the performativity of language, threatened states, sociotechnical systems and ethics, pedagogy and curriculum, agency, and utopian spaces and practices.

Please feel free to attend either or both parts of the roundtable. We warmly welcome you to the discussion.

To join this first part of our roundtable discussion, which is free, please book through Eventbrite.


Maria Delgado is Professor and Director of Research at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London and Co-Editor of Contemporary Theatre Review. She has published widely on non-English-language theatre, performance and film cultures.


As we all grapple with whatever a post-Brexit Britain might look at, this provocation looks at the politics of multilingualism in the shadow of the dominance of English as the global language of commerce. What does it mean to think about multilingual performance in an economy where the inscription of English as the language of value pervades the cultural sphere?

Víctor Ladrón de Guevara is a lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Plymouth (England) where he runs the MA Performance Training programme. His scholarly work

is centred on Acting Training processes, the use and understanding of the body in performance and the interrelationship between theory and practice.


London is considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Its overwhelming vote to ‘remain’ appears to signal its strong and active links with the rest of Europe. International (or ‘overseas’) students are a sizeable percentage of those enrolled in theatre & performance degrees across the UK HE sector. Yet, the significant absence of ‘foreign accented actors’ in the London stage scene and the rare hiring of academic staff who have a foreign accent is perplexing and requires further analysis. In this provocation, ‘accent’ is treated as a sectionality that reveals both sites of resistance as well as deep and entrenched racist practices in both academia and the theatre cultural industry.

KARIN COONROD Theater Artist: Director, Writer, Translator

Karin Coonrod is Artistic Director of Compagnia de’ Colombari, born in Orvieto, Italy, based in New York City. Coonrod directed off-Broadway, around USA, Italy, Russia and Romania. Most recently: The Merchant of Venice in Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy and North America; Babette’s Feast (by Isak Dinesen). Notable productions: Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Love’s Labor’s Lost, King John, Tempest, Roger Vitrac’s Victor Or Children Take Over. She adapted/staged Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, Everything That Rises Must Converge, Whitman’s Song of Myself (retitled More Or Less I Am); her own texts&beheadings/ElizabethR. Faculty: Yale School of Drama.


I would like to focus attention on the use of language in my adaptation and direction of The Merchant of Venice in the Venice Ghetto in 2016 and the transfer to North America in 2017, 2018: Peak Performances in Montclair, The International Festival of Arts&Ideas in New Haven and at the Hopkin Center at Dartmouth.

  1. The use of language to sculpt the hearing of the play: to honor, provoke and reconcile
  2. 2.Language for an International Audience in Venice, Italy: Veneziano for commedia dell’arte: Lancillotto, Gobbo and Bassanio
  3. Language for an American audience in North America:
  4. Heightened language for Shylock from Yiddish, Sephardic, Veneziano Hebrew: important aspect of the humanity of the character and the framing of anti-semitism
The five Shylocks from Karin Coonrod’s adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, which she also directed.
The five Shylocks from Karin Coonrod’s adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, which she also directed.
Margherita Laera is a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent, Canterbury. She specialises in translation and adaptation for the stage, and contemporary European performance, especially in Italy. She is also a professional arts journalist and theatre translator. Margherita is the author of Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019) and Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy (Peter Lang, 2013) and editor of Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (Methuen, 2014).

Provocation: With my AHRC-sponsored public engagement project, Performing International Plays, launching in early 2021, I have created an open-access platform for secondary-school pupils and teachers to engage with twenty contemporary plays from five different continents, written in over fifteen languages. One of these plays is Mongiwekhaya Mthombeni’s I SEE YOU, which is originally written

in English, Afrikaans, Xosa and Zulu, and specifically centres around multilingual politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Another play we selected, Natalya Vorozhbit’s The Grain Store, about the great famine in Ukraine during Stalin’s era, was adapted into a Zimbabwean context for us by Tonderai Munyevu, who used both English and Shona. The Performing International Plays website aims to raise awareness of, and respect for, foreign plays by enriching published international drama with learning and teaching resources, including video extracts in the original languages so that teachers and students can feel empowered to explore theatre from cultures and contexts different from their own.

Tonderai Munyevu is an actor, writer and creative director born in Zimbabwe and raised in England. He is the co-artistic director of Two Gents Productions. His writing includes: Mugabe, My Dad and Me (York Theatre Royal/ETT—ALFRED FAGON SHORTLIST 2019), The Moors (Tara Arts Theatre-forthcoming publication on Methuen-Bloomsbury), Harare Files; How 700,000 People Lost Their Homes, Zhe [noun] Undefined (Soho Theatre); A Tranquil Mind (BBC Radio 4) The Visiting Hours; A Dispatch From Zimbabwe (Johannesburg Book of Reviews), Bullets (Black and Gay in the Uk-Team Angelica), James Baldwin (Queer Bible.) He is adapting his play MUGABE, MY DAD, AND ME for Audible. He has recently received the Peggy Ramsay Foundation Grant for his next play: Black Museum.


The politics of Multilingualism: who is the “viewer” and the “viewed”?

Can the writer/actor reclaim language and the stage?

Kaite O’Reilly is a multi-award winning poet, playwright and dramaturge, who writes for radio, screen and live performance. Prizes include the Peggy Ramsay Award, Manchester Theatre Award, Theatre-Wales Award and the Ted Hughes Award for new works in Poetry for Persians (National Theatre Wales). She was honoured in 2017/18 by the international Eliot Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy for her work between Deaf and hearing cultures. She has received a Hawthornden Fellowship, four Unlimited commissions and two Creative Wales Major Awards from Arts Council Wales, the latter leading to The Beauty Parade, a performance at Wales Millennium Centre in March 2020 featuring spoken, sung, projected and visual languages, co-directed with long term collaborator Phillip Zarrilli. She is known for her pioneering work in disability culture and the aesthetics of access. The ‘d’ Monologues and Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors is published by Oberon/Bloomsbury. Her first feature film is in development with Mad as Birds Production Company. www.kaiteoreilly.com


The form, politics and processes of multilingual performance are immediately subverted when they challenge ableist assumptions about the modes of communication in play. What if multilingualism includes languages that are not spoken, but visual and/or projected? How do the aesthetics of access shape performance processes, and impact on notions of multilingualism on stage, taking it outside the issues of migration and exile?


14th December 2020
6:00 pm - 7:45 pm




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