11 February 2009
International Playwrights Forum
Yesterday (10 February 2009), I was invited to join members of the International Playwrights Forum (IPF) of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) in a roundtable discussion in Manila on the state of playwriting in the world. I asked them if it was too early to suggest that playwrights use Google Docs to collaborate on a multilingual play, which could then be staged simultaneously in several countries. Aside from the expected remark about how playwriting today depends fairly much on production companies being there from Day One (therefore making it an exercise in futility to write a play without any scheduled opening night), there was a comment from a member from Poland that floored me. She said that, in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, playwrights were not usually multilingual. She even said that the Philippine situation was very different (since my country has 171 living languages and every Filipino playwright works with at least two or three languages). There were a number of other Europeans there, but they did not contradict her observation. I thought all the time that Europeans were usually multilingual. Can European writers please enlighten me about the situation in Europe? Do European writers (with the notable exception of those already mentioned in this blog) write only in their mother tongue, even if they speak several languages? Is there a disconnect between speaking and writing?