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Performing multilingualism in and against the extremes Monday 21st December 6 – 7.45pm GMT

17th December 2020 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

To join this second part of our roundtable discussion, which is free, please book through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/performance-process-and-the-politics-of-multilingualism-part-two-tickets-131264663141



Adela Karsznia is an independent researcher, translator, and editor. She received her PhD in Theatre from the University of Wrocław, and has professional diplomas in Translation (UNESCO centre for Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication) and Cultural Management (Association Marcel Hicter/Polish National Centre for Culture). She is former international publishing coordinator at the Grotowski Institute (2005–12) and her research-writing and translations have appeared in various journals, books, and films. She is co-director of the nonprofit organizations TAPAC and Culture Hub (London, UK), where she has realized several multilingual research projects, and an associate research fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester.



Following the Nazi occupation of much of Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s, vast numbers of ordinary citizens found themselves cast in unfamiliar, often clandestine roles that could be life- and death-defining. Drawing from primary accounts in different languages, this brief paper will touch on performances in extreme circumstances, ranging from the masquerading of Jewish children as non-Jewish adults on the streets of Warsaw to the hidden code-switching of concentration-camp interpreters. It will focus on instances of Jewish ‘passing’—particularly the modes of self-presentation that were often required to conceal an individual’s ethnic, religious, and linguistic origins and create an alternate, ‘socially favoured’ persona. To what extent did these survival strategies hinge on being able to act out multilingual and multicultural behavioural repertoires, in a world of pervasive observation and threat?




Mongiwekhaya is a writer, performer and director. He has performed in works by Andrew Buckland, Fortune Cookie Theatre company, Market Theater, WellWorn Theater company, and Cirque Du Soleil. He has worked with Handspring Puppet Company since 2011. He is Artist in Residence for Center for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of Western Cape and a member of the SA PLAYRIOT group, a South African collective of activist-driven playwrights. His award- winning play, I SEE YOU (2016), was presented at The Market Theatre, Johannesburg, the Royal Court, London and The Fugard Theatre, Cape Town, and is published by Bloomsbury.




Dead languages can haunt living flesh. How do Languages die? And how do they haunt the halls of memory which once housed a human being stamped with their qualities?


I SEE YOU expresses the risks involved in being the tenor of a multilingual encounter, where the very quality of your identity is being refashioned to be like another.


LIFE AFTER YOUTH shows the seductive powers of fashioning another in one’s image. Should your subject suspect they are losing agency, death becomes an optional response.




Art Babayants/Արտ Բաբայանց is a multilingual theatre creator, educator and researcher living and working in what is now called Canada. Since 2012, Art has been running Toronto Laboratory Theatre, an experimental theatre collective dedicated to the work of first generation immigrants to Canada: www.torontolab.org  He  is currently teaching acting and directing at the University of Ottawa/L’Université d’Ottawa.


The potential of multilingual dramaturgy that does not include translation, but does include multilingual actors and audiences, is not simply giving voice to minority languages and putting up “resistance to a dominant language and culture” (Byczynski, 2000, p. 33). It allows for stereotypes to be exposed and dismantled, for languages to mingle, for acting training methods and theatre cultures to collide, and for artists and audiences to interact, challenging and helping each other. In a way, it offers a utopian space that potentiates multilingual and multicultural encounters without essentializing one’s first or second language cultures and by that disrupts institutionalized isolation of artists and communities.




Sibusiso Mamba was born in Swaziland in 1978. He trained at RADA in London. He is an actor, playwright, director, screenwriter, teacher and producer. Among his theatre acting credits are: Sizwe Banzi is Dead (Young Vic Theatre London/Eclipse Theatre UK Tour); Father Comes Home From The War and I See You (both for the Royal Court Theatre, London, the latter also at Market Theatre, Johannesburg and Fugard Theatre, Cape Town); Nongogo (Market Theatre, Johannesburg); Romeo and Juliet (Chichester Festival Theatre); Othello (QM2); Train to 2010 (Crossroads Theatre, New Jersey). Sibusiso was International Artist in Residence at Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey, USA from 2012 – 2015. Sibusiso has written numerous plays that have been performed in the UK and in the USA, including plays for BBC Radio. He has also written for many television shows in South Africa including, Isidingo, Bay of Plenty, Binnelanders and Skeem Saam. He has directed in the United Kingdom, United States, and South Africa where he adapted and directed the Naledi award-nominated production of 6 Characters In Search of An Author. Sibusiso has most recently been working in Central and East Africa as Head of Scripted Fiction for Girl Effect – a global organisation that creates media brands to inspire and empower girls and young women to change their lives for the better.



My provocation is from the perspective of someone who works across different language and cultural landscapes across Southern, Central and East Africa, and also in the UK and the US. I want to explore how story is truly received when it has been created by outsiders in English and then translated by local writers into the language(s) of the country it is being written for? Is there a real collaboration happening in these contexts, or is there a hierarchy that asserts itself purely from the fact that the outsiders creating the story are the initiators of these projects? Do the writers in these places feel a sense of propriety over these stories? Do the receivers of the story (mainly in Radio/Television) feel it as an authentic representation of their landscape?




Duncan Jamieson is an independent researcher, digital humanities practitioner, translator, and editor. He has taught at Rose Bruford College (2003–4), the University of Exeter (2006–9), and been a resident scholar at the Grotowski Institute (2008–12). Since 2012, he has been co-director of the nonprofit organizations TAPAC (www.tapac.co) and Culture Hub (London, UK), managing and collaborating on a range of cultural heritage and research projects, and he is an associate research fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester. His articles, edited texts, and translations have appeared in various scholarly journals, books, and documentary film



Today’s programmable infrastructure determines large parts of our social reality, cutting across various paradigms of performance and performativity. My short paper will focus on the expression of specific cultural and political values within our current sociotechnical systems, and the attendant translation of tracked human activity into aggregations of data that can ‘act’ in the world. It will trace how this selectively encoded information functions as a lively, hybrid artefact—proliferating, migrating, and performing in operations largely beyond public gaze and control, and generating far-reaching consequences, especially for marginalized and minority groups. Taking several examples of algorithmic processing that have profoundly reshaped everyday human performances, this paper will pose a series of ethical questions about the (formal) linguistic representation, normatization, and exclusion of certain bodies and behaviours in contemporary life.


17th December 2020
8:00 am - 5:00 pm