Shakespeare as a Lingua Franca for Intercultural Dialogue & Learning « Tribal Soul


Shakespeare as a Lingua Franca for Intercultural Dialogue & Learning

Shake­speare as a Lin­gua Franca was a hothaus­ing pilot project ini­ti­ated by Patrice Naiambana in 2006, while he was a mem­ber of the Royal Shake­speare Company’s His­to­ries Ensem­ble. It took place over two years, and pro­vided the basis for The Gospel of Othello.

The project was facil­i­tated, pro­duced and funded by Tribal Soul as a pilot scheme with three imperatives:

  1. To pro­vide impe­tus for social trans­for­ma­tion through cre­ative ensem­ble work and dialogue
  2. To pro­vide insights for devel­op­ing work­shops and per­for­mances rel­e­vant to multi-ethnic societies
  3. To sus­tain research and cre­ate inno­v­a­tive and orig­i­nal work

The project began with a one-day per­for­mance sem­i­nar in Chap­le­town, Leeds. The par­tic­i­pants were expe­ri­enced multi-disciplinary dias­pora artists strongly engaged with their com­mu­ni­ties in the UK and ances­tral com­mu­ni­ties in Africa and the Caribbean.

Shake­speare was pro­posed as a prism for engag­ing with cross-cultural and shared his­tory. The group took Oth­ello as their point of depar­ture, sto­ry­telling Othello’s child­hood and speak­ing verse. The play acted as a cat­a­lyst to release per­sonal his­to­ries and invoke wide rang­ing dis­courses. So fer­tile was this day’s work that Tribal Soul pro­posed an extended res­i­dency with pro­fes­sional, non-professional and emerg­ing young artists, mainly from Chapeltown.

The Lin­gua Franca project took place in 24 ethnically-diverse envi­ron­ments in South Africa, Sierra Leone and Britain: after-school clubs, com­mu­nity cen­tres, muse­ums, schools, uni­ver­si­ties, men­tal health ser­vice units, libraries, the­atres, and bars. This approach pro­duced a wide range of out­comes depend­ing on the needs of the par­tic­i­pants, from lit­er­acy engage­ment, per­for­mance train­ing, com­mu­nity cohe­sion to inter­cul­tural under­stand­ing and diver­sity discourse.

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