Beyond Social Realism: Directing European Plays
The Role of the Translator: Translating 'Foreign' Performance Cultures
This post-show talk considers the role the director plays in new European playwriting.
Director Jude Christian joins Benjamin Fowler for a conversation about postdramatic dramaturgies on the British stage, drawing on her experience of directing Trust, by the German playwright Falk Richter, at The Gate in 2018. The conversation also includes the playwrights Beniamin M. Bukowski and Maria Milisavljevic, and the director Abigail Graham. How do European playwrights conceive of the role of the director when writing their plays? Does this shift when their plays are translated into English and into theatrical cultures where social realism dominates?
Rethinking Memory and Personal Experience
This post show talk considers the role of the translator as cultural mediator.
In conversation with Noah Birksted-Breen, translators Natasha Oxley and William Gregory, and the playwright Gianina Carbunariu consider how the translator can engage with the 'original' theatrical tradition, which the playwright has embedded in the form and style of their playtext. If the play was written for a non-naturalistic theatrical tradition, how can the translator create a text which evokes that non-British performance culture?
The Unseen Drama Behind Translating 'Prime Location'
German theatre scholar Hans-Thies Lehmann observed that live performance has the ability to ‘uncover depth underneath the terror of the surface’ and to provide ‘[a] moment of hesitation, of faltering, reflective pausing’ (2016). I am interested in delving into the nuances of this excavation, and in cherishing the potential for taking a moment and reflecting on what lies beneath the surface of a translated cultural and dramatic text.
Contemporary European Drama in Translation on the British Stage
A translator faces some serious challenges when translating Hungarian Contemporary drama, especially if the translator refuses to aid the digestion of the foreign by domesticating it and instead creates a non-apologetically foreignised translation. This kind of translation asks more of British audiences – it asks them to do the work as such, by making them ‘go to the foreignness of the play as opposed to patronizingly ‘bringing’ the domesticated version of the play to them.
Polish Plays on the British Stage?
It all started when Brazilian Camila França and Dane Trine Garrett met while studying the Meisner Technique under Scott Williams at the Impulse Company in London. Looking to create a space that would allow them to tackle the work they wanted to do regardless of their casting type or accents, they started [Foreign Affairs], a theatre company based in Hackney with a focus on theatre in translation and international cultural and artistic exchange.
What ever happened after Ibsen and Strindberg?
European plays in translation on the contemporary British stage are undoubtedly rare. Patrick Marber’s 2018 adaption of Ionesco’s Exit The King at the National Theatre was a welcome surprise, and was the National’s first staging of a play by this Romanian-French writer. Perhaps this marks the beginning of a new openness to European plays … or does the aftermath of the Brexit vote mean that audiences and producers are generally wary of all things non-British? This wariness, if it exists, could be one of the many reasons for a lack of international plays on the British stage. Polish plays provide a good example.
Minoritized languages – Their right to be present in the global cultural stage
Julie, a contemporary adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie by Polly Stenham, opened at the National Theatre in May 2018. Even though it received mixed reviews, mainly due to the problematic modern take on the 1888 Scandinavian classic, the fact that it was staged in an important London venue is in itself a sign that British theatres still show interest for the work of the master of Naturalism and father of Swedish literature.
A New Perspective of the State of the Nation Plays
Advocacy for me means to stand up for and GIVE VOICE to people and cultures who are not given the possibility to be listened to. My work tries to point out the directions we need to go to look at issues that are often swept under the carpet. Ignoring oppressed languages contributes to the creation of reductive stereotypes that impoverish our cultures and gives rise to ultra-right movements that add to pre-existing ignorance and prejudice, creating more conflict and misery.
As Divorce Approaches, a Bilingual Blood Wedding Opens a New Door
Since the birth of the state-of-the-nation tradition, British theatre has dealt with local issues closely related to the nation. This focus on issues by theatre makers can be justified because of the multiple threats that have faced the nation such as immigration, multiculturalism and national identity. All these provocations have had their impact on the type of the plays presented on British stages.
In May 2018 I travelled to Madrid with a company of student actors preparing for their first performance of a new, bilingual adaptation of Lorca’s Blood Wedding that would take place just ten days later. The 16-strong company had been working on the play since January as part of an intensive rehearsal process, sharing ideas and development exercises aimed at accessing the deeper layers of ritual and symbol in Lorca’s poetic meditation on fate, nature and freedom. All pretty standard stuff. Except for one big difference – one half of the company had never met nor even been in the same room as the other half.
Contemporary ‘European’ plays in translation make up less than 1% of the work programmed on British stages today – an underwhelming number by any standards. Conversely, touring shows by ‘European’ companies and directors enjoy a relative popularity. ‘Why aren’t British theatres more open to European playwrighting?’ is the obvious question to ask. I’m more inclined, however, to ask the opposite. Why would we expect it to be any different?