[Foreign Affairs] Translates!
Placing Translation Centre Stage in Brexit Britain
Set up as a company to champion plays in translation, [Foreign Affairs] stages contemporary as well as canonical works hailing from the repertoire of world drama, for the benefit of an English-speaking audience. The company promotes international collaboration in multiple ways, cross-cultural networking being in its DNA through its very composition. The initial creative partnership of a Danish and a Brazilian theatre maker continued with the involvement of further international associates, with a view to discover work not routinely seen in the UK, and to overtly engage with the linguistic, narrative and dramaturgical approaches of non-Anglophone playwrights. Reacting to the current UK theatre climate, with its complex barriers to the production of translated work and constantly changing attitudes to Europe in the run up to Brexit, [Foreign Affairs] Translates! – the company’s mentorship programme for theatre translators – has emerged as a wave of protest and a means to go forward. Born on the day of the Brexit Referendum, [FA] Translates! is a forum intended to nurture a new generation of stage translators by offering a rare opportunity to be guided by experienced translators, workshop translations with the company and showcase work in front of a public audience. [FA] Translates! is moving away from the idea of translation as an exclusively intellectual and solitary endeavour, arguing for theatre translation as a modality to engage with the physicality implicit in the dramatic text, and considering hypothetical performance texts in parallel with creating versions in another language. Fostering a community of theatre makers with an eye for cultural difference, [FA] Translates! is mindful of producing a variety of work, both stylistically and in terms of cultural provenance, and its three editions to date focused on countries relatively under-represented on the UK stage. Situating side by side dramatic works originally from the margins of Europe (Croatia, Finland, Romania) that also integrate other local languages (Hungarian, German), the works undertaken for development raise broader questions about belonging, interrogating the idea of nation states and inviting a rethinking of cultural boundaries.