Free international drama resource launched by Dr Margherita Laera

Olivia Miller
Screenshot from video excerpt of A Fable for Now (English translation) by Performing International Plays

An open-access website to bring contemporary drama from around the world into UK curriculum has been launched as the result of a project led by Dr Margherita Laera, a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at the University’s School of Arts.

The website, Performing International Plays, provides Drama educators with free content such as videos, essays and education packs to diversify the curriculum with work that speaks to and represents all students.

With 20 plays in 15 languages from across 6 continents showcased on the website, secondary schools and colleges can engage students with international theatre, helping them connect with important local stories from around the world and the values of equality and representation.

Free educational resources include:

  • Brand new video excerpts of the plays being performed in their original language and in two English translations
  • Academic essays contextualising the plays
  • Educational packs with classroom exercises and guidance
  • Exclusive author and translator notes
  • Behind-the-scenes videos and images

The website features plays written by a culturally diverse selection of Asian, Arabic, Black, Latinx, indigenous and white European authors working in languages such as Palestinian Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Cuban Spanish, Ukrainian Russian, South African English, Australian English, Indian English, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian, German, Japanese, French, Sign Language, and more.

Featured on the site are, amongst many others, Palestinian writer Dalia Taha and her critically-acclaimed play Fireworks (Royal Court Theatre), Taiwanese playwright Wei Yu-Chia with her Taiwan Literature Prize-winning play, A Fable For Now, South African writer Mongiwekhaya with I See You (Royal Court Theatre), Norwegian dramatist Jon Fosse with I Am the Wind (Young Vic), Winner of the Eureka Prize Natal’ya Vorozhbit and her play The Grain Store, with excerpts available in their original language, English translations and brand new adaptations.

Directors working on filmed excerpts of translated plays include Anthony Simpson-Pike (Associate Director at The Yard Theatre), Omar Elerian (former Associate Director at the Bush Theatre), Chilean theatre director and translator Camila Ymay Gonzáles, director and translator Mingyu Lin and more.

Notable actors performing in video excerpts of each play include Luis Soto (An Education, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, The Duchess), Rob Locke (Marvel’s Agent Carter, Jimmy Kimmel Live!), Natallia Bulynia (Killing Eve), Daniel York Loh (The Beach), Nadia Nadarajah (Hamlet, A Christmas Carol), with many more featured.

The project is funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of Dr Laera’s work advocating for more international theatre and drama in translation to be studied and performed in schools and theatres, as a means to foster intercultural understanding and competence.

According to Actor Natallia Bulynia, featured in The Grain Store, it is languages that can bring something different to a play, from nuances to accents. While Director Anthony Simpson-Pike (of excerpts I See You and The Grain Store) expressed how in the act of translation, someone has to understand another culture and relate it to their own, resulting in a powerful exchange.

Dr Laera said: ‘In our increasingly diverse classrooms, it is no longer possible to defend an all-white Drama curriculum based on British and European classics. We need to learn to listen to and empathise with the stories of others living on our planet. We have selected some of the best contemporary international plays published in English or English translation, and enriched them with learning and teaching resources for Drama students and tutors in secondary schools and colleges. Our hope is that our website helps every Drama student feel represented, seen and heard through international plays.’

Actor Sibusiso Mamba, featured in I See You and The Grain Store said: ‘International productions are so vital right now to include diversity to include people from all walks of life. These plays can relate to a global audience, it’s all about human relationships.’

Screenshot from video excerpt of I See You. Credit: Performing International Plays