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Melanie Dreyer-Lude: Feeling Double: The Psychophysical Activation of Personality in Bilingual Performance (EN)

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

In September 2007, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Stuttgart, Germany, I mounted my first bilingual theatre production, Outside Inn.1 Intended as a bicultural exploration of stereotypes, our team brought together a cast of bilingual actors to perform a commissioned play in both German and English. We hoped to advance cultural understanding in the two target countries (Germany and the United States), and to use the rehearsal and performance process as a laboratory for discovery. Our plan was to unearth myths about each culture, and then share those discoveries with the audience. For this experiment, our partner theatre, Theater Rampe Stuttgart, provided the two bilingual German actors, and I hired two bilingual American actors to comprise the cast of four who performed the roles in the play. (more…)

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Melanie Dreyer-Lude: Mapping Ottersberg: Using Performance Intervention to Mediate Performance as Research (EN)

‘Do you know where we can find cows?’ I asked a gentleman parking his bike in front of the REWE grocery store in Ottersberg, Germany. This was one on a list of questions my colleagues and I asked the unsuspecting citizens of this tiny village during our first collaborative performance intervention entitled ‘Mapping Ottersberg’. In this project two other artists and I embarked on a journey to uncover how local villagers mentally map the social and logistical geography around them. We were looking for ways in which individuals conceive of place and space and how those conceptions might change if we were to employ linguistic filters. What would happen if we were to pose as lost tourists and ask for directions in fluent German? Would we get the same response if we asked in English? Or bad German? How does language change the ways in which we view our environment and the people we encounter? How do the ways in which we see ourselves shift when speaking with someone more or less like us? (more…)