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Dance and Theatre

Performing International Plays
15th March 2021
PIP image

Brand new website Performing International Plays has launched, with 20 plays in 15 languages from across 6 continents showcased on the website. From actors and directors to academics and teachers, over 150 people have been involved in bringing the website together.

The project is funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of Project Lead Dr Margherita Laera’s work advocating for more international theatre and drama in translation to be studied and performed in schools and theatres, as a means to foster intercultural understanding and competence.

The website will be open to all, with free educational resources to download. Resources include:
– Brand new video excerpts of the plays being performed in their original language and in two English translations
– Academic essays contextualising the plays
– Educational packs with classroom exercises and guidance
– Exclusive author and translator notes
= Behind-the-scenes videos and images

The website features plays written by a culturally diverse selection of Asian, Arabic, Black, Latinx, indigenous and white European authors working in languages such as Palestinian Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Cuban Spanish, Ukrainian Russian, South African English, Australian English, Indian English, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian, German, Japanese, French, Sign Language, and more. Plays have been published and/or are available both in their original language as well as in an English translation.

Featured on the site are, amongst many others, Palestinian writer Dalia Taha and her critically-acclaimed play Fireworks (Royal Court Theatre), Taiwanese playwright Wei Yu-Chia with her Taiwan Literature Prize-winning play, A Fable For Now, South African writer Mongiwekhaya with I See You (Royal Court Theatre), Norwegian dramatist Jon Fosse with I Am the Wind (Young Vic), Winner of the Eureka Prize Natal’ia Vorozhbit and her play The Grain Store, with excerpts available in their original language, English translations and brandnew adaptations.

Directors working on filmed excerpts of translated plays include Anthony Simpson-Pike (Associate Director at The Yard Theatre), Omar Elerian (former Associate Director at the Bush Theatre), Chilean theatre director and translator Camila Ymay Gonzáles and more.

Notable actors performing in video excerpts of each play include Luis Soto (An Education Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, The Duchess), Rob Locke (Marvel’s Agent Carter, Jimmy Kimmel Live!), Natallia Bulynia (Killing Eve), Daniel York Loh (The Beach), Nadia Nadarajah, with many more featured.

Project Lead Dr Margherita Laera said: “In our increasingly diverse classrooms, it is no longer possible to defend an all-white Drama curriculum based on British and European classics. We need to learn to listen to and empathise with the stories of others living on our planet. We have selected some of the best contemporary international plays published in English or English translation, and enriched them with learning and teaching resources for Drama students and tutors in secondary schools and colleges. Our hope is that our website helps every Drama student feel represented, seen and heard through international plays.”

Actor Natallia Bulynia (featured in The Grain Store) said: “One play, same story, same characters – but because of the language it becomes something different, it has different nuances and accents.”

Actor Sibusiso Mamba (featured in I See You & The Grain Store) said: “International productions are so vital right now to include diversity to include people from all walks of life. These plays can relate to a global audience, it’s all about human relationships.”

Director Anthony SImpson-Pike (of excerpts I See You & The Grain Store ) said: “I think in the act of translation you have to understand another culture and think about how it relates to your own, that exchange I feel is really powerful and really exciting.”