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Minoritized languages – Their right to be present in the global cultural stage

Image: Mark Rasmuson

Image: Mark Rasmuson

Advocacy for me means to stand up for and GIVE VOICE to people and cultures who are not given the possibility to be listened to. My work tries to point out the directions we need to go to look at issues that are often swept under the carpet. Ignoring oppressed languages contributes to the creation of reductive stereotypes that impoverish our cultures and gives rise to ultra-right movements that add to pre-existing ignorance and prejudice, creating more conflict and misery.

 As a Catalan speaker whose mother tongue has been minoritized, I feel the need to explore how any language is minoritized. This drove me to write a book on theatre in indigenous languages in Puebla (Mexico). The book focuses on three important areas to consider when thinking about theatre in indigenous languages: context, contents and objectives.

 Context is the most important thing to understand because, most of the time, we are dealing with a hostile environment towards these indigenous languages and their cultural products. The book explores this from several different perspectives: the sociolinguistic issue; ‘bilingual’ education; how public institutions that are supposed to exist for the benefit of all Mexicans deal with indigenous language speakers; and finally what is in the public libraries of Puebla and what is not there.

The content of indigenous theatre is important as it enables both a recovery of the historical memory of the indigenous people and enables them to convey their interpretation of the religion that has been imposed on them by adapting it to their cultural needs, amongst other things. With regard to objectives, the book considers the channels that people involved in indigenous theatre can use to get to their audiences and try to widen them.

As a theatre practitioner (actress, playwright, producer, pedagogue and director) who lived abroad for many years, I have found myself in a situation where translation was a must. Often it increases the possibility of promoting my plays or the plays of others, by giving them access to the literary departments of theatres, contests and settings which they can only enter if translated. 

My one woman show Phoolan is Everyone has been presented on stages in Europe, Asia and the Americas translated into several languages, but always with 15% of its contents in Catalan. Phoolan first premiered at an Entepola in Ecuador, where it had an audience of marginal people, many of them first-time theatre goers. The show has also been in sites with very specialized audiences, such as being the central event of a conference on gender given by Truman University in Missouri and the Darpana Academy in India.

 

Angelina Llongueras