Sylheti-Bengali and English Bilingual Theatre

Hare and the Tortoise poster

In 1988, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre launched its first bilingual Theatre-in-Education programme in English and Sylheti Bengali, an initiative which then became a hallmark of the company’s policy and a major area of educational research and theatrical development. Until 1991 the work toured solely to the communities of East London but then developed an international reputation with invitations to perform and present in Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand.

The bilingual programme was developed to:

  • Contribute to work in schools which increases awareness and understanding of language and cultural diversity;
  • Give full access to children who are not yet fluent in English;
  • Enable children to feel strong in their own culture by hearing their language given value within their education;
  • Support links between school, family and community;
  • Challenge assumptions that if communication is to be of value it has to be transacted in English;
  • Support and respond to schools’ equal opportunities and anti-racist policies.

This exploration of bi-lingual work was explored again by the company in the 2000s, this time with a series of 6 plays presented in English and British Sign Language.

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