Express What Lies Within

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 8 November 2019

Boloroo Nayanbaatar, a Mongolian linguist, is in the city to conduct a workshop on language during the ongoing IAPAR International Theatre Festival 2019

A linguist, who is engaged in translation studies, Boloroo Nayanbaatar will be communicating her love for languages to the participants at a workshop – Language (Space of Creativity) organised as a part of IAPAR International Theatre Festival. Coming from Mongolia, Nayanbaatar says, ‘Language is a piece of us’ and it defines who we are. She also talks about the flourishing theatre scene in her country. 

Learn to explore 
In a world where emojis do the talking, of what use are coherent feelings and emotions couched in words, sentences, rooted in a language that speaks straight from the heart? 

According to Nayanbaatar, language is based on text for sure, but it is also much more. “It is not just a tool for communication, but is also a space of creativity. In today’s world where technology plays an important role and time seems not enough, people tend to communicate less through words and more through texts. Nurturing the birth potentials of creativity provided through languages has become a challenge for any person who has a thirst for it. This workshop employs a self-discovery approach to the use of language and through interactive discussions, unlocks the potentials of creative nature of a human being,” she explains.

The two-hour workshop, which will be held on November 12 at Kalachhaya Cultural Centre, will also comprise exercises that will allow the participants, artists to express what lies within them. 

“The participants will come up with their own scripts to tell a story. The script will have words or no words, it’s all up to the artists. I think non-verbal communication – gestures, signs – is the beginning of creation. Another exercise will have the artists exchanging their scripts and expressing what it says,” Nayanbaatar adds. 

Theatre and language 
Nayanbaatar, who has translated religious and film texts into Mongolian, says theatre and language are both living. It’s not enough to focus on the grammar and memorise the words, of say the English text, to be adapted and translated for the Mongolian stage. “If an artist is a good performer, but if s/he doesn’t understand the emotions of the original words, then the performance might fail. A story is communicated through the artist, so s/he has to understand the nuances. Both the technical and artistic aspects of the story have to penetrate into the artist’s mind and then they have to be put into their language,” she explains. 

Nayanbaatar believes that theatre allows the artist to transcend any culture. If a piece comes out of her/him, it will touch the audience irrespective of the tongue it is spoken in. “I think it is useless to worry in which language the play is, if the artist has based his performance on the script,” she points out. 

Theatre in Mongolia 
Mongolia, the landlocked country, has about 3.4 million population and half of it is settled in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. It is here where the national theatre is located. 

Explaining the theatre scene in her country, Nayanbaatar says, “We are a culturally active nation. After the socialist system collapsed, the economy opened up. Our students are going out to study in Germany, USA and therefore they are learning new languages. We have bookstores where we can pre-order a book. There is enough online buzz as well. The fourth book in the Harry Potter series will come out soon. Many world classics are also being translated. We also have opera and ballet groups. We have a national theatre, and there are provincial theatres and private theatre too.”

When asked about the difference between the various theatres there, she says, “The national theatre is state funded whereas private theatres have to manage their own productions and ticket sales and so on. The national theatre comes out with productions at regular intervals and they deal with various subjects like historicals, world classics, contemporary subjects etc. There is music, there are dramas for children, short stories and so on. The government doesn’t decide which subjects the theatre would be staging. There are 21 provinces in Mongolia and they have their own groups.” 

 And, as and when necessary, workshops to improve the skills of the artists are held. The theatre festivals there are also competitive for which applications are invited. If the performances are local, then the jury goes and watches those in person. They are scored. “This year, we will be having our 44th edition in May 2020. The aim of the festival is to encourage new, good quality productions. We plan to have two performances on short plays.  We have also been having monodrama festival for five years now. We have strong community for it now,” she says.

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