posted by Sophia Stepf
categories: Spotlight | Staff

A Spotlight on Intercultural Competence

“Culture is the way we do things and view things around here.” This is one of the shortest and most workable definitions for the word “culture”. Put another way, culture is a system with rules of social interaction, bound to a place and a group of people. So every theatre, every family, every school and every online community has its own culture. And we as individuals take part in and are defined by many cultures. We are “cultured” by our families, our schooling, our hobbies, our workplace. All these cultures define how we evaluate, judge and perceive the world and how we communicate with others.

In the Wanderlust projects, many people come together. They all arrive with different cultures in their backpacks, starting an endless game of conflicting values, misunderstandings and opposing perceptions of the same situation. Sound impossible? There is at least the mutual love for theatre, a shared practice. But does working in a theatre mean the same thing to each person?

To make the point, let’s take an imaginary example. We are in India. The German technician Hans and the Indian technician Suresh have to put up a set together which was designed in Germany.

Hans (to Suresh):
“Vee built ze stage up like ziss, you haff to turn ze screws in here like ziss.”

Suresh (thinks):
What does he mean? Screws in first? But we always put the wooden panels first. That’s more logical. Whatever, he’s our guest, let’s do it his way. I wish his English was better, can’t really understand him.

Suresh (says):
“Yes, yes, of course.”