Language Lab Babylon
What would a world be like in which languages were developed by private companies? Taking the contemporary commodification of public services as its starting point, Language Lab Babylon (Sprachlabor Babylon) researches the future scenario of a privatisation of language. The performers ‘preenact’ and develop, together with the audience, possible language products of tomorrow, and examine their consequences on our daily life.
Comfian, Newcritician, Luxurygerman, Highpoetian and Savergerman are some of the language products that can be beamed directly into the speech centre of your brain from your mobile telephone using blue-wave – all available no later than the year 2030. The approaching language economy marks the beginning of a new, post-national age: languages are no longer bound to their place of origin and national territories dissolve. The language products of the ‘German Company’ are available worldwide and compete with products from the ‘Spanish Company’, ‘Punjabi Company’, ‘Swahili Company’, ‘Chinese Company’ and many more. In order to broaden the palette of choice, accents and dialects are in demand for developing niche products. As a test subject for the ‘German Company’, the Sprachlabor Babylon (Language Lab Babylon) audience encounters a possible future working environment. Do the language products stand the global stress test? Can you think better with the latest languages? Will there be conflicts between saver-speakers and the vocabulary-rich? Are you still performing or are you preenacting already?
“The test subjects are addressed separately, isolated from one another with headphones, while Nina (Tecklenburg) and Martin (Schick) celebrate with the company dance and company song perfectly rehearsed in the style of 1930s German revue (with music by Friedrich Greiling). With black humour, this production excellently exposes the arrogant Babylonian claim that a continually evolving living language can actually be appropriated without harming it. The danger inherent in surrendering to the market is also clear. In the end, Nina has to struggle with the company dance on her own because Martin has had to revert to ‘Economy German’. “Hmm” is all he can manage, there isn’t any more left. Nina’s credit is also running out. “Care” and “leg” are no longer available. She misses words. Suddenly they are both ‘topped up’ again. Oh well, the next test subjects have arrived.”
(Lucía Tirado, Neues Deutschland 13/11/2012)
“A great advantage to this performance is that the interaction between guests develops systematically. People in neighbouring seats can swap ideas, it’s all part of the program. It’s a good excuse to whisper gently to someone or shout at them like a sergeant major. The evaluation phase begins next. Like I say, our eyes are on the future. To sum up, a very interesting performance that you don’t get in state theatres in Berlin. Sometimes it’s worth dropping into the Sophiensaele.”
(Steffen Kassel, Suite 101 online, 11/11/2012)
Devised and Performed by: Till Müller-Klug, Nina Tecklenburg, Martin Schick Music and Sound: Friedrich Greiling Dramaturgy: Kaja Jakstat Lighting and Set Design: Dirk Lutz Costumes: Josephín Thomas Soundtechnical Advice: Georg Werner Production: Marc Pohl Interns: Katharina Beitz, Mara Niese Video Documentation: Gernot Wöltjen Special thanks to: Peggy Mädler Photos: Michael Bennett, Renata Chueire, Nina Tecklenburg.
Production: Interrobang. Co-production: SOPHIENSÆLE. Funded by: Doppelpass Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by the Mayor’s Office of Berlin – Senate Chancellery – Cultural Opportunities. Special thanks to our media partner taz.die tageszeitung.
Premiere: November 2012 Sophiensæle Berlin.