Bilingual Theater

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A new family bilingual play opens this weekend at the Zach Theater.  The description of the play is as follows:

“Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, this inspirational story suggests what reading — and self-respect — can make possible. This production will be done in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin department of Theatre and Dance.”- Nat Miller, Director of Education at the Zach Theater.

Following the launch of Zach Theater’s last bilingual play, Cenicienta (in collaboration with Teatro Vivo), we wrote a short blog highlighting why bilingual theater is important to our community.  In continued support of bilingual programs such as this, we would also like to highlight a paper published in the Journal of Pragmatics titled “Functions of code-switching in bilingual theater: An analysis of three Chicano plays,” Volume 42, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1296–1310.  The topic addresses “code-switching,” which is the process of going back and forth between languages. The conclusion of this study highlights the level of enrichment bilingual plays add to character, story line and audience engagement.  The author, Carla Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Education in Languages and Language Development at Stockholm University writes,

The study concludes that code-switching fills creative, artistic and stylistic functions in the plays and that it can be used to add emphasis to a certain word or passage, to add another level of meaning, to deepen/intensify a meaning, to clarify, to evoke richer images and to instruct the audience about a particular concept. Code-switching is also used to mark closeness, familiarity, to emphasize bonds, and to include or, on the contrary, to mark distance, break bonds and exclude. Complex identities of the characters as well as the plots of the plays are constructed and developed by means of language. Code-switching is thus used to enhance and support the representation of the characters.”

With so many benefits and wonderful attributes that bilingual plays offer, let’s continue to show our support by attending bilingual theater productions and requesting that more bilingual programs like this be made available to the public.

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below: