“Verschtehsch?” 1001 Experience of Zarina

Actress, singer and translator: Zarina Tadjibaeva won our hearts during the Lucify Stand Up Comedy at the Action-Week against Racism in Bern. This time we talked to her about her new play: "Verschtehsch 1000 und 1 Fall einer Übersetzerin".

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Zarina Tadjibaeva On the 9th of may you play in “Verschtehsch?” at ONO Bern. What is it going to be about?

Verschtehsch 1000 und 1 Fall einer Übersetzerin (“Do you understand? – 1001 case of a translator“) is a comedy in which I have brought on  stage all my experiences of an interpreter. I have been working since 20 years as an interpreter for Russian and Persian languages. I have witnessed many different situations with all the offices and institutions. These are very absurd and funny situations, but also of course tragic ones.

It is called “Verschtehsch?”  because I hear that phrase very often. People want to make sure that you understand them. And “1001 Fall“, because I come from Tajikistan, that once belonged to Persia. Everyone knows 1001 night. That is where this connection come from: “1001 case of a translator”.

Through these funny characters and situations, what can society learn about itself?

I just wanted to tell a story from my own perspective. What I experience when different cultures meet. What happens if you want to be understood? The play is intended to stimulate self-reflection. So that people can see themselves from a side. Maybe recognize or say, “Ah, I did not know that! I did not consider it during my last experience!” That is what people should take with them after the play.

It also happens to me very often that after the performance people come to me and say: “Thank you very much, I did not think about it in that way”.  When it comes to cultural differences, they do not take certain things into account. This is something that should be enhanced.

What, do you think, is the biggest obstacle to mutual cultural understanding?

Fear, prejudices, stereotypes, unwillingness to get out of yourself and take interest in each other. Those are the main barriers. If I manage to build a bridge, to get interest in another person, to listen to her or to him, then the communication really happens. So, that is the answer: drink tea together and talk! This helps! Doesn’t matter if you talk with hands and feet. If you are interested in each other, then you become closer.

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Anna has Russian roots and big interest in themes: identity, hybridity, music, and raising children in multicultural context. She graduated University of Bern (world literature, Cultural Studies) and Lomonosov Moscow State University (Philology). At the moment she works on her personal blog “Traveling Swiss Cat” ( www.facebook.com/travellingswisscat and https://www.instagram.com/travellingswisscat/ ) where she familiarizes parents of multicultural kids with meaningful events and places to be visited with children in Bern and surroundings. Anna is convinced that our children can teach us a lot. They are not born with stereotypes but they risk to acquire them later under external circumstances. Our task as parents is to help them grow as conscious and culture-aware humans.

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