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Lingua Madre

(Mother Language)

Premiere: Teatro Arena del Sole, 5th October 2021

About this event

What does the word mother mean? Is it necessary to be a woman to be a mother? Is it necessary to be a mother to be a woman? Is being a mother a decision? And whose? Is there only one way to be a mother?
In the wake of the new and global feminist movement, the right to decide when and how to become a mother is in dispute. In many countries, people fight for legal abortion while, in the areas that have allowed it, some people want to go back. There are places where birth crisis, assisted fertility laws, maternity or paternity leave are being debated. Somewhere else, the discussion is held about abortion in case of rape, about school desertion of teen-mothers, about child allowance… In all these arguments, what is usually heard is the opinion of politicians, Church and science instead of what people who give birth, adopt, raise or accompany the children’s growth think.
In Lingua Madre a group of people of different ages, professions, social classes and personal migratory histories answer a questionnaire about motherhood using words, music, actions. The scenario becomes a territory enabling to answer, debate, define strategies, write or destroy manifestos. This space could be a laboratory of a future clinic, an assembly, a shamanic ritual or simply a social encounter.
The project will première in Bologna and is conceived to be carried out in different cities around the world with different communities, just like a mobile laboratory. Lingua Madre is a project about asking and answering, about the power to conceive the word mother from the very beginning.


Our research for Lingua Madre led us to have interviews with doctors, fertility treatment experts, midwives, lawyers, anthropologists, feminist campaigners, anti-abortion campaigners, lesbian mothers fighting for their children to be recognized, migrant mothers who left their children behind to care for others, teen mothers with no social support, trans mothers, families who provided gestation for others, families who waited years before adopting, women who lied to access fertility treatment, women who fostered children, intersex people who fought to be able to get pregnant, women who decided not to have children.
In each of these conversations, it became clear that all of these people’s experiences are no private matter: they are a political struggle. As the trans philosopher Paul B. Preciado says, in the neoliberal individualist fiction we believe that our body belongs to us while governmental and economic apparatus actually control our organs, especially the womb. We should not be surprised that the current political battles are waged in the area of procreation.
Coming into contact with each one of these experiences broadens our ways of seeing and thinking besides rising new questions about today and the future: what is a family? Is procreation a job? What would happen if wombs went on strike? What if children were born from an artificial womb?
Lingua Madre is a territory allowing to reflect about the institution of motherhood, about our present, past and future times. Like a dictionary written on stage, each entry gives a new meaning to a very old word.


Lola Arias (Argentina, 1976) is a writer, theatre and film director, and performer. She collaborates with people from different backgrounds (war veterans, immigrant children, etc.) in theatre, literature, music, film, and art projects. Her productions play with the overlap between reality and fiction and have been shown at the most prestigious venues all around the globe, such as Lift Festival (London), Sterischer Herbst (Graz), Festival d’Avignon, Theater Spektakel (Zurich), and Under the Radar (New York).

For more information, please visit www. lolaarias. com

Artistic Data

written and directed by Lola Arias
with Donatella Allegro, Marzia Bisognin, Chiara Bodini, Egon Botteghi, Giovanni D’Alessandro, Eloisa Gatto, Florette Zengue, Martina Zucchini
and Angela Balzano’s participation in the creative process
set and costumes Mariana Tirantte
video and light design Matias Iaccarino
choir direction Meike Clarelli
music Meike Clarelli and Davide Fasulo
choreography Luciana Acuña
dramaturg Piersandra Di Matteo
assistant director and production manager Lola Arias Company Laura Cecilia Nicolas
casting Piersandra Di Matteo, Cosetta Nicolini
bibliographic research support Marina Mariasch
interpreter Teresa Vila

technical director Massimo Gianaroli
technical director on site Vincenzo Bonaffini
stage manager
Paola Castrignanò
video technician
Yassin Hannat
light technician
Tiziano Ruggia
sound technician
Andrea Melega
stage hands
Davide Capponcelli, Massimo Abbondanza
wardrobe Elena Dal Pozzo
set and props realized in the workshop of Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
workshop responsible and head carpenter
Gioacchino Gramolini
carpenters Sergio Puzzo, Marco Fieni (iron constructions), Jurgen Koci, Tiziano Barone, Riccardo Benecchi,
set decorators Ludovica Sitti and Sarah Menichini, Benedetta Monetti, Rebecca Zavattoni, Martina Perrone (intern)
production assistants Francesco Vaira, Francesca Lombardi (intern)
photo and video documentation Stefano Triggiani
produced by
 Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
in the framework of the project Atlas of Transitions

a production of Lingua Madre • Production Emilia Romagna Teatro
main partner


Voices from Lingua Madre