This research project grew out of the ways in which Ahilan Ratnamohan deals with the fact that, as a native English speaker, he finds himself in contexts where he is privileged through the dominance of English (based on an often forgotten imperialist and colonial agenda). He puts himself in a weaker position by learning the local language, with the result that he, also as a "person of color", is "othered".
The research focuses on the practical reality of language learning, considered as an artistic process. A way of expressing oneself with limited skills emerges, and a change takes place in the body and the psyche. How does the way we learn a language affect ourselves as a person, and what expressiveness results from this? How do we perform when we learn a new language? And how can this become a new, pedagogical model in an emancipating movement? Themes such as integration, assimilation and depiction of the "foreigner" are touched upon.
On another level, this research poses questions about imperialism, cosmopolitanism and decolonisation. Within the drama study programme at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, the project has the potential to broaden the students’ practice. They are engaged as pupils ánd as fellow researchers. The research project addresses multilingualism in the Conservatoire and in Flemish education, and questions drama in its perfected state of performance practice. The research dialogues with several philosophical texts, in addition to practical texts and tools that are tested for their theoretical potential.
Photo by Andrejs Strokins