Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Linguistic Fluidity

Last Saturday saw another Writers’ Guild event, in the Sherman Cymru, Cardiff. In conjunction with their production of Gary Owen’s “Amgen: Broken”, it was a forum discussion on the subject of Bilingualism in Drama, chaired by noted Welsh playwright and director Ian Rowlands, and with guest speakers (alongside Gary), Jeroen Van Den Berg (a Dutch playwright who has worked with a Frysian-language theatre company in Holland) and Dominic Rai (the Indian-born founder of the Mán Melá Theatre company, now resident in Wales). The general consensus was that linguistic fluidity is the future of society and therefore, of any dramatic writing which aims to reflect it with any degree of authenticity. “Amgen” is artistically successful, because, as the author explained, it uses the learning of the Welsh language as a metaphor for personal transformation; and there was agreement that playwrights should be encouraged to work multilingually, when the subject of drama called for such an approach (e.g. social inclusion, linguistic oppression, generational conflict). The problem in Wales though, appears to be that work is often criticised on the basis of the “correctness” of the Welsh used, rather than its relevance and verisimilitude as drama, and that bureaucratic considerations preclude the production of work (especially on TV) that reflects the bilingual reality of most Welsh-speaking communities. The limited number of opportunities, particularly in television, for non-Welsh-speaking writers in Wales was also brought up.

A couple of days later, I paid a visit to London village to check out the latest production of “The Exquisite Corpse” (I am one of the five co-writers) at the Southwark Playhouse, and was blown away once more by the slickness and coherent incoherency of the production. I’m proud to be even a small part of such an aesthetically ambitious project, for which my biennial visit to the Tate Modern was the ideal preparation.

I loved the new J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" film – particularly the depiction of the developing relationships between the principals; some lovely, surprisingly nuanced performances. Slightly concerned about the “alternative timeline” scenario, which could easily have laid waste to any pretence of subtlety; and towards the climax, when CGI threatened to take over, I found myself losing concentration, but that’s probably an age thing.


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