Performing Languages

Masks on stage performance
1 - 2 February 2019
Curzon Building, Birmingham City University



Creative Multilingualism, an interdisciplinary and multi-university research team led by the University of Oxford, invites you to Performing Languages, to be held at Birmingham City University, Friday 1 February – Saturday 2 February 2019.  There is a charge of £10 per day for attendance, which will be waived for accepted contributors (presenters, performers and panellists).

This event provides an opportunity for researchers, artists and cultural practitioners to work together, sharing their experience and research about what it means to perform languages (in the broadest sense), to develop new insights, be inspired by new performance/research ideas, and expand their networks. 

As well as invited speakers, the programme will incorporate a number of performances which will provide a focus for complementary round-table discussions. 

Particular areas of focus will include but are not limited to:

  • the use of gesture and the body in performance and communication
  • how languages and linguistic heritages can inspire artistic/cultural practitioners
  • the interplay between performance and language learning

Registration is now closed.

See highlights from the conference in the film below:

Or read the following blog posts about the event:

Performing Languages: on multilingualism and language hierarchies

What does it mean to perform language?


Download a pdf of the programme here.

All sessions are in the Curzon Building at Birmingham City University.

Friday, 1 February 2019

12.00 – 12.45

Registration and lunch

12.45 – 1.00

Welcome – Rajinder Dudrah, Birmingham City University

The Hive, Curzon Building

1.00 – 1.45

Keynote – Tim Supple, Dash Arts

The Hive, Curzon Building

1.50 - 2.20

Talk – Deaf Bodies in Song, Joana Pereira, University College London

The Hive, Curzon Building

Talk – Laughing with care: use of gesture and improvisation in Creative English, Anne Smith, Creative English

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

2.25 –  2.50

Performance Urban Sign Language, Rinkoo Barpaga

The Hive, Curzon Building

2.50 – 3.15

Tea C087

3.15 – 4.15

Workshop – British Sign Language Taster, Rinkoo Barpaga

The Hive, Curzon Building

Workshop – Tim Supple, Dash Arts – Making Multilingual Theatre

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

4.20 – 4.45

Performance – RTKal

The Hive, Curzon Building

4.50 – 5.30

Round table – Rajinder Dudrah, Birmingham City University (Chair); Francesca La Morgia, Mothertongues; Jeni Draper, Fingersmiths.

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

5.30- 6.15

Drinks C087


Delegates are invited to join us for dinner at Manzils Restaurant, at their own expense. [Manzils, 111-112 Digbeth High Street, B5 6DT.]


Saturday, 2 February 2019


Welcome – Rajinder Dudrah, Birmingham City University

The Hive, Curzon Building

9.45 – 10.05

Performance – Ashlee Roberts

The Hive, Curzon Building

10.10 – 10.45

Round table – Philip Bullock, University of Oxford (Chair); Noah Birksted Breen, Sputnik Theatre Company and University of Oxford; Ashlee Roberts; Lou Sarabadzic

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

10.50 – 11.20

Talk – Peter Wynne-Willson, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - Orange Polar Bear – an account of developing a bilingual performance piece for and with teenagers in Korea and the UK.


The Hive, Curzon Building

Talk – Incorporating dance into language learning process, Julia Ostanina-Olszewska, University of Cracow

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

11.20 – 11.50

Coffee C087

11.50 – 12.20

Talk More than a word, a discussion of the performative gestures of an online English teacher/artist , Anna Walker, University of Plymouth

The Hive, Curzon Building

Talk ‘Do you want to speak Icelandic with me?’ Linguistic creativity and the inclusion of immigrants in Iceland, Lara Hoffman, University of Akureyri

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

12.25 – 1.15

Workshop – Jack Blackburn on body language

The Hive, Curzon Building


Workshop – Language, Culture and Communication in a Diverse City like Birmingham, Josh Dykes, SPEAKup

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

1.15 – 2.15

Lunch C087

2.15 – 2.45

Talk –  Kinetic Reading –  Miscommunication Reigns, an exploration of literary devices and language through choreography, Zoë Leigh Gadd, Dance Ahead

The Hive, Curzon Building

Talk –  Performed spoken word is in rude health; poetry is not, Isabel White, Alarms and Excursions

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

2.50 – 4.00

Roundtable – What do we mean by Performing Languages? Rajinder Dudrah, Birmingham City University (Chair), Linda Fisher, University of Cambridge; Maggie Frainier, University of Oxford; Katrin Kohl, University of Oxford; Peter Wynne-Willson, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

4.00 – 4.15

Closing remarks

Lecture Theatre C192, Curzon Building

4.30 – 5.30

Delegates are invited to attend Merely Players, an immersive, multilingual play (in a pub). Created in collaboration with students from Birmingham schools, colleges and universities and performed by local professional actors, the play features more than seven languages and presents words ripped from Shakespeare’s grasp and recreated in the languages of the play’s settings. Join us in The Eagle and Ball, Gopsal Street, B4 7RJ (on BCU campus, 5 minutes from conference venue). Go direct to the venue or meet at the registration desk at 4.20.

Please sign up at the registration desk. 

Masks on stage performance