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Meet our Tutors | Helen Tennison: Making Multi-Lingual Theatre

Meet our Tutors | Helen Tennison: Making Multi-Lingual Theatre

19 September 2019

Helen Tennison will lead Making Multi-Lingual Theatre at The Actors Centre on 25 September. Here, Helen writes about the workshop which celebrates diversity and inspires confidence in partipants to create theatre in multiple languages.

We are fortunate to be in a city that contains a multitude of languages. To walk down the street is to be enlivened by their musicality and variety. As a director and theatre-maker, I am always looking for new ways to create theatre that reflects the world in which we live and new ways to expand on theatrical form — working with multiple languages is an exciting way to do this. 

The workshop is for actors and theatre-makers who speak more than one language and are comfortable improvising simple scenes in those languages. We begin by noticing the different tones, rhythms and cadences of the languages present in the room, and we observe the relationship between body language and speech patterns. This part of the session provides an opportunity for participants to note the difference in the way they express themselves when using alternative languages. Do you find it easier to access particular characteristics or emotional qualities in one language over another? Can you use this knowledge to increase your acting range in both languages?

We go on to create short scenes that explore the nature of communication and miscommunication, asking questions such as: How much does the audience understand when they don't understand the language? What messages are they reading, what are they missing, and how can we use this audience experience to dramatic effect? What is dramatically useful about two characters who speak different languages? There is a wealth of theatricality, humour, and pathos in this work. 

The Making Multi-Lingual Theatre workshop is a celebration of the diversity of London's theatre-makers and the rich creative potential that this diversity offers.  I aim to give participants a deeper knowledge of their strengths as multi-lingual performers along with the tools and confidence to create theatre in multiple languages.

Making Multi-Lingual Theatre takes place on Wednesday, 25 September from 10.30am - 5.30pm and is open to Actor and Industry members. For more information as well as booking links, please click here

About Helen Tennison
Helen Tennison is a Director, Educationalist, and Theatre Maker. She has just won an Edinburgh Fringe First for Everything I See I Swallow. More information can be found on her website.


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