The transition between languages and how it can to come to mark our perception of immigrants, as well as their perception of themselves, is a theme Kapil explores in much of her work because she understands it first-hand. [2:13]
Aditi Brennan Kapil: I am half-Bulgarian and half-East Indian. My mother was Bulgarian, my father Indian, and when they married they moved to Sweden, which is where I grew up. So I'm Swedish nationality and I grew up in Stockholm. And when I went to college, I went to college in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Macalester College, and I got married and I stayed and I had kids, and so now I actually am a dual citizen. I am American and Swedish, and my family is still all over the place. My family is in India and Bulgaria and Sweden, and various parts of the U.S. And my first language was Bulgarian, my second language Swedish, my third language was English, and my French has gotten very bad. But I find that my mind works in all the languages depending on what I'm thinking about, they all sneak in there. And in our household when I was growing up, we spoke three languages simultaneously at all times, and no one else really could understand us, ever. But my mother was most comfortable in Bulgarian, so whenever she needed a word she'd just switch languages. My father would've preferred that one of us at least would speak Hindi but none of us did, so he kind of popped between languages to whatever suited what he was trying to say. My brother was most comfortable in Swedish. He was born in Sweden and he is extremely Swedish and he would stick to Swedish and then pop around in the other languages, and my mind was always in all three. And I find that from my perspective, language defines so much about how you see yourself, how the world sees you, not just the languages but the ways you speak them, dialects. And I find that I change, my personality changes, my self-perception changes when I switch languages. Like I find that in Bulgaria, I'm very adorable and young, and that has to do with the fact that my Bulgarian is very young. I left there at a very young age and I never did learn to swear really well, I never did get all teenage and profane because I wasn't there. So I go to Bulgaria and invariably I'll get patted on the head, and I'm way too old to be patted on the head. And that changes, that changes how you see yourself, and you just kind of go ahead and accept that vision of yourself and you fill the role. And as I think about language and self, it tends to weave its way into my plays a lot. It's a big theme for me.