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.
The exposition has been compiled by Peter Wynne-Willson, Senior Lecturer in Applied Theatre at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, who was director and associate producer of Orange Polar Bear from its inception through to performance, and has led the research process. While the production was a collaboration with Hanyong Theatre Company, The Rep and the National Theatre Company of Korea, the research has been informed by the partnership between RBC/BCU and the National Research Centre for Teenage Drama in Seoul.
Play - a full video of Orange Polar Bear
Script - full performance script of Orange Polar Bear
Timeline - the Road to Orange Polar Bear [an account of the processes, illustrated with images and video of the stages]
Overview of Project as Interview - an interview about the whole process leading to Orange Polar Bear and the issues raised by it.
Language Issues - multilingual performance and a teenage audience.
Equal Collaboration - can a cross-cultural collaboration be genuinely equal?
A Teenager-led Process - learning from the young.
Project Reach - outcomes, impact and credits