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The practical application of Spanish to the theater career: the simulation of a bilingual production process

Burst, Emily (2014) The practical application of Spanish to the theater career: the simulation of a bilingual production process. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This research, conducted during the Spring of 2014, investigates how to apply Spanish, in a practical sense, to a theatre career. Subjects explored include the challenges faced when the Stage Manager switches the room from traditionally English speaking, to one in which the performers and technicians no longer all speak the same language. Overall, the Stage Manager role grew into a nexus of communication among a crew of technicians who speak English and a cast who either speak Spanish or will be working with a script that utilizes the Spanish language and Latino culture.
The research included executing the production process of the musical In the Heights using both Spanish and English. Rehearsals involved giving certain instructions and directions in Spanish occasionally followed by an English translation, speaking only in Spanish to the performers who speak Spanish natively, and calling the show in Spanish. Thus, the combination of native and non-speakers and the pressure of practical performance simulated the process and challenges of working in a bilingual theatre environment. Furthermore, the language shift prompted some tension between white, male technicians and the production.
The outcomes include changes to subliminal job requirements and a lingual switch of the environment. As the process continued, the English-speaking students were thrown into a bilingual environment wherein they were expected to achieve their usual standards without their usual primary language advantage and to take it upon themselves to ask for translations. However, the room also experienced an increase in Spanish understanding and use by those who come into the room speaking only English.
This additionally led to a shift in attitude. Most personnel entering the process were adjusted to an environment wherein any person who does not speak English is asked to learn and communicate as the majority does. The process developed from being primarily English speaking into a process where the main resource language was mainly Spanish. Although many experienced tension within the process with regards to the power dynamics of the Spanish and English languages, the power of Spanish in the room could not be compromised.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Burst, Emily
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDuggan, AnnmarieDuggan@pitt.eduDUGGAN
Committee MemberJackson-Schebetta, Lisalisajsch@pitt.eduLISAJSCH
Committee MemberStewart,
Committee MemberCabaj, Staceycabaj@pitt.eduCABAJ
Committee MemberVila-Roger,
Date: 30 April 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 March 2014
Approval Date: 30 April 2014
Submission Date: 18 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 68
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Spanish, Language, Stage Manager, Theatre Arts, In The Heights, Communication, Bilingual, Rehearsal Room
Additional Information: There is a binder, called a prompt book, that is associated with this work.
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 18:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:19


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