Defying Stage Monolingualism:
 Bi- and Multilingual Theatre Practices in Canada

September 26, 2015 | News


Guest editors: Nicole Nolette and Art Babayants

The intersection between theatre and language(s) has been written about extensively in French within Canada, but often without distinguishing Text from its sociopolitical Context. In Quebec, recent issues of Études françaises and Jeu: revue de théâtre have proposed two different frameworks. Contributors to Études françaises seem less interested in how language affects dramatic works than in how dramatic works transform language (Bovet 6). On the other hand, researchers and practitioners contributing to Jeu: revue de theatre have called for more movement across the ‘walls of language’ separating theatre communities and more space for ‘the co-existence of languages on stage’ (Saint-Pierre and Couture).

In English language literature, Marvin Carlson’s Speaking In Tongues: Languages at Play in the Theatre received little follow-up. Overall, in English Canada the development of intercultural theatre practices and theories seem to have overshadowed discussions on multilingualism in theatre.

This bilingual (French and English) special issue gives voice to practitioners and researchers who investigate various combinations of the use of multiple languages in Canadian theatre. The objective is to go beyond the study of multilingual drama in Quebec and francophone Canada as well as to venture past the question of Canadian bilingualism in order to gain a larger comparative and methodological understanding of various forms of multilingual theatre in Canada, of the various theatre communities addressed by such forms and of the methodologies available to analyse them.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of topics:

  • Practical approaches to stage multilingualism in Canada (surtitling, translation, playful translation, non-translation, 
) and methods of analysis of these various approaches;
  • Theories of multilingualism and heteroglossia (Bakhtin) and their impact on 
theatrical practices and research;
  • Multilingualism in exilic, diasporic, indigenous, postcolonial, postdramatic, site-specific theatre in Canada;
  • Strategies of erasure and evocation of multilingualism in Canadian theatre/drama;
  • Multilingual actor training, development and recognition;
  • Canadian theatre audiences and their linguistic competencies.

Article proposals, including institutional affiliation, should be sent to nnolette@fas.harvard.edu, art.babayants@utoronto.ca and tric.rtac@utoronto.ca by January 15th, 2016. Notice of acceptance, conditional to peer review of full-length articles, will be given by February 1st, 2016. Articles of 7,000 words will be submitted by April 15th, 2016.

Works Cited

Bovet, Jeanne. « Présentation. » Études françaises 43.1 (2007): 5‑7. Print.

Carlson, Marvin A. Speaking in Tongues: Language at Play in the Theatre. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006. Print.

Couture, Philippe, et Christian Saint-Pierre. « À quand un théâtre montréalais bilingue? » Jeu: Revue de théâtre 145 (2012): 6‑8. Print.

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