This exposition is an account of Orange Polar Bear – a bilingual theatre project four years in the making, and built on 20 years of development, resulting in a performance presented in Seoul and Birmingham in October and November 2018. A recorded version of the final play is the centrepiece of the exposition, along with a timeline illustrated with process images and video, an overview presented as interview, a full script, and focus articles on the key research areas. Both the interview [in detail] and the timeline [in brief] explain the whole development process, and the linked videos, articles and documents provide a deeper exploration for those interested in looking at the project processes and outcomes in more detail.
Orange Polar Bear (2014-18) was created by the National Theatre Company of Korea, Hanyong Theatre Company, and Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The main research aims were to develop a methodology for devising and presenting bilingual work in a way that maintains equality between collaborative partners and maximises the value of the partnership, and, by focusing on the experience of teenagers in Seoul and Birmingham, to consider what young people can teach adults about bridging cross-cultural and language divisions.
The process resulted in a novel methodology for devising bilingual theatre leading to a cross-cultural performance for young people in two languages, presented in the same form in South Korea and the UK. It was arguably the first fully bilingual play to have been staged in each venue and is certainly unique among Anglo-Korean collaborations for its focus on the experience of teenagers, and its conscious balance of languages, cultures and practices. Additionally, the research demonstrates the value of adopting a child-led approach to creating cross-cultural theatre and has created new insights into long-term approaches to developing fair and equal cross-cultural partnerships.