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THEATRE AND MULTILINGUALISM: ‘FOREIGN’ LANGUAGES AND ACCENTS ON THE STAGE

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On Monday 18 November, Prof. Ulrike Garde, Associate Professor at the University of Sidney, gave a guest lecture about "Theatre And Multilingualism: ‘Foreign’ Languages And Accents On The Stage", within the frame of the Multilingual Master course “Multilingualism and Literature” led by Prof. Ann Peeters and Dr. Andrea Penso, with the collaboration and the introduction of Prof. Janine Hauthal.

In a world marked by increased human mobility and interconnectedness, multilingualism has become a feature of everyday life. This quotidian linguistic diversity meets with different responses by theatre makers and the institutions which frame their work. While there is an ongoing tendency towards ‘mono­lingualism’ in some major publicly funded theatre productions, others embrace the use of multiple languages as part of a growing internationalisation in this sector of the arts. The lecture presents two case studies to explore dramaturgical and aesthetic approaches towards multiple, including ‘foreign’ languages, vernacular and accent on stage: firstly, an internationally touring co-production, Complexity of Belonging by Melbourne’s Chunky Move, directed by Falk Richter and Anouk van Dijk, and, secondly, Elizaveta Bam by the Exil Ensemble, directed by Christian Weise for the Maxim Gorki theatre in Berlin. The two productions offer insights into how spoken theatre productions working in international contexts re­spond to the challenges arising from recent cultural and socio-political changes. Prof. Garde examined their use of ‘foreign’ languages and accents as a key factor in the creative and receptive processes of staging contem­porary thea­tre through asking: How do theatre makers respond to an increasingly multilingual urban environ­ment which includes languages that are ‘foreign’ to them and their regular audiences? Which organizational frameworks and practices tend to support or inhibit works that expose audiences to unfamiliar alternative voices?

Ulrike Garde is the Head of German Studies in the Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures at MacquarieUniversity. Her research interests range across contemporary German and Australian drama and performing arts in international and intercultural contexts. Past research projects and publications have included studies on: Bertolt Brecht, the reception of German-speaking playwrights in Australia (Brecht & Co: German-speaking Playwrights on the Australian Stage); and on the creation of cultural identity in inter- and transcultural contexts. Her research has contributed new insights into Australian-German cross-cultural relationships and into the Arts’ engagement with cultural diversity in German-speaking countries and beyond. She is the co-author of Theatre of Real People: Diverse Encounters at Berlin's Hebbel am Ufer and Beyond (Bloomsbury Publishing 2016, with M. Mumford) and co-editor of Rimini Protokoll Close-Up: Lektüren (Wehrhahn 2015). Her current project investigates “Multilingualism on the Berlin Stage” in terms of aesthetics as well as audience access and diversity. She is a founding member of the MacquarieUniversity research cluster, “Staging Migration in Berlin: Opera, Theatre, Film, Performance”.