Negotiating unfamiliar languages and accents in contemporary theatre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the use of multiple languages on stage as reflecting the linguistic demands of productions that travel internationally and the increased forced or voluntary mobility of their makers and audience members. It focuses on Complexity of Belonging (2014), directed for Melbourne’s Chunky Move by Dutch choreographer Anouk van Dijk and German playwright Falk Richter, and Elizaveta Bam (2018), by the Exil Ensemble under Christian Weise’s direction at the Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin. These illustrate the choices available to theatremakers when negotiating the interplay of internal and external pressures arising from the organizational and economic frameworks of festivals, institutions, cultural politics and audience responses. Creative engagements with multiple languages involve dramaturgical and aesthetic challenges and opportunities that affect the processes of meaning-making and reception. The case studies illustrate strategies including supertitling and inviting audience engagement with moments of partial and/or non-verbal means of understanding. Negotiating unfamiliar languages and accents on stage also challenges theatremakers and audiences to engage with the everyday realities of societies in transformation. The chapter argues that, rather than confirming homogenized, self-contained modes of identity and belonging, productions that feature unfamiliar languages become places for locally- and internationally-informed public discussions about the arts and cultural diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheatre and internationalization
Subtitle of host publicationperspectives from Australia, Germany, and beyond
EditorsUlrike Garde, John R. Severn
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781003028406
ISBN (Print)9780367463540
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • unfamiliar languages
  • multiple languages
  • theatre
  • stage
  • translation
  • supertitles
  • identities
  • belonging
  • migration
  • refugees
  • mobility
  • diversity
  • access
  • Arabic
  • English
  • German
  • Russian


Dive into the research topics of 'Negotiating unfamiliar languages and accents in contemporary theatre'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this