J is for Noëlle Janaczewska

Songket / This Territory by Noëlle Janaczewska

Sometimes I find the most amazing people through liking the look of their name. Janaczewska is more of a playwright than anything else, she doesn’t shy from sensitive issues and from the look of her plays she’s really awesome at showing us the entire issue in all its complexity.

The book I’ve linked to here is two plays. Songket is very complex involving two totally different cultures which have two incredibly different understandings of sex, not gender, but sex. You can go here to read more about the play, I want to have a few words about the writing.

The article reprints a segment of the play. The exchange is between three people, the interrogator, the interpreter and the rapist. The problems start very early on as the rapist doesn’t understand the questions so the interpreter has to reframe them so he can understand them. Instead of very plain, open questions they end up being rather more obscure and I can’t help wondering if that creates more problems.

I can’t find out where Janaczewska comes from but that’s actually rather irrelevant. What’s important here is that she’s had to research cultures so deeply that she understands how they speak, how they ask questions and the impact of words on that culture. In Songket she’s showing us Australian culture might collide with Hmong and Laotian cultures.

If you read plays Janaczewska sounds like she would be a good playwright to read. I’m looking forward to being able to see her plays on stage and learning more about different cultures.