A language all its own

by Katy Bingham | 1 January 2017

our innate tendency and longing to communicate

One of the aspects I love most about theatre is its potential to capture and portray the truths of humankind: our passions, dreams, longings, struggles, heartaches, failures and successes. As Oscar Wilde said: “I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”. While I feel this quote is undoubtedly overused, I find myself drawn to it time and time again. For within theatre, I have found a great love, empathy and compassion for the human race. And something that we all have, regardless of where we’re from, is the ability to communicate and express ourselves to one another = language.

Five years ago while living and teaching in Ankara, Turkey, I sat through a theatre production that was performed in Turkish, not my native tongue. Throughout the performance, the friend I attended the play with continually checked my attention to the piece. While I was not able to understand the nuance of the spoken language, I was captivated by the performance and was able to follow the overall storyline, connecting with the characters and their circumstances. Why was it that I could understand and follow the storyline, even though I missed the intricate meaning of the spoken word? One answer I can come up with is that my training in theatre has given me the ability to read the subtleties of the human experience and this exists regardless of the spoken or unspoken language. While I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination, this training has given me the ability to read people, their expressions, physicality, vocal intonations etc.

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