We launched the first session of LANGUAGING last night at the School of Arts, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Running to December, this project will devise a multilingual and autobiographical performance art film to be submitted to hybrid online/onsite theatre and performance festivals in London, Melbourne and Dublin for 2022.

The project is made up of consciousness-raising elements which galvanise a discourse around language rights, mother tongue language performance and language revitalisation, together with training elements in decolonising Mary Overlie’s viewpoints. Actors will explore the manipulation of the gaze with filmed improvisations and develop embodied filmed responses to their peers’ stories. LANGUAGING is facilitated by Sibusiso Mkhize and brings together postgraduate and fourth-year actors including Nomvuyo Buthelezi, Moeketsi Kgotle and Nonhlanhla Precious Masombuka.

The project is part of my Arts Research Africa Postdoctoral Fellowship ‘Decolonising language ideologies in the body’, mentored by Samuel Ravengai.

This page will feature highlights from the process, as documented through the hashtag #LANGUAGINGACTORS on Twitter:

Photo credit: University of Witwatersrand

Claire French is a performance maker and researcher, specialising in multilingual, applied and autobiographical performance.