Language Trilogy

Gallery Istaba and Ģertrūdes ielas teātris, Riga, 6, 7, 8 September, 2017 

Language trilogy is a research by Tamil and Latvian theatre makers Ahilan Ratnamohan and Matīss Gricmanis on the symbolic and social capital of language, and it’s role in the society’s power relations. 

Bille in 24 hours
In a gallery space sits a foreigner. For three days and 24 hours she reads the seminal Latvian novel Bille by Vizma Belševica. She has no prior knowledge of Latvian but begins to learn the language, stuttering through the first words of this book, which the audience is thoroughly familiar with. Occasionally she asks their help, beginning to grasp the rudiments of Latvian, its pronunciation and meaning. The audience supports her and guides her, but with or without them she needs to be strong and resolute to complete this task.

The Perfect Migrant
Ahilan Ratnamohan’s solo performance The Perfect migrant is created in residence and in consultation with the community. Over a period of three weeks, Ahilan meets with diverse Latvians and Latvian communities. He asks each of them to provide him – both physically and mentally – with what they find essential to being Latvian and living in Latvia. Ahilan learns to cook rye bread soup, use the local public transport and maybe even receives the ring of Namejs, while finding his way in Latvia. At the end of the three weeks – speaking only in Latvian – Ahilan presents the audience with what they have taught him about being Latvian.

Foreigner is a performance game in which a group of adult migrants, who are learning Latvian, come in intimate contact with a local audience. Through a series of language games they attempt to introduce themselves. A strange paradox evolves; they are the masters of the game, yet constantly hindered by their rudimentary language skills, striking a curious mix between fragility, playfulness and resilience. They guide the audience yet require their assistance. Foreigner is an examination of the power of language in society in a very practical and social sense, an attempt to re-frame, warp and explode the stereotypical image of the foreigner who cannot speak the language and all its associated baggage.