Traversing the cut: from The Soldier’s Tale to Feast: translation and the right to fail in London’s Waterloo

O'Thomas, Mark (2013) Traversing the cut: from The Soldier’s Tale to Feast: translation and the right to fail in London’s Waterloo. In: International Federation for Theatre Research, 22-26th July 2013, Barcelona.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


In 2006, the Old Vic Theatre in London hosted a production of Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ferdinand Ramuz’s The Soldier’s Tale. Billed as a “unique European-Iraqi collaboration”, the piece double-casted European and Iraqi actors in the same roles, each reciting the same lines in either English or Arabic according to their ethnicity and the ‘translations’ provided by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Abdulkareem Kasid respectively. In February 2013, seven years later, and just a hundred metres away down the road at the Young Vic Theatre, in a short two-minute walk that takes you past the National Theatre Studio premises, yet another theatre, the Royal Court, premiered a five-country “once in a lifetime production” entitled Feast. This culmination of a collaborative project involving playwrights from Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, the USA and the UK, crossed continents and centuries but used translation as a vehicle to consolidate and rationalise its staging through and into the dominant language of English.

This paper will address both the points of success and failure of these two very different projects that seek, in their own ways, to transition across cultures and create social and political linkages in order to find a dramaturgical route through different histories. In doing so, the paper considers the problematical role of translation for the stage by evoking the trope of the cut or fissure that translation simultaneously generates and then seeks to seamlessly heal. The short thoroughfare of The Cut, which dates back to the early 19th century as a means of routing the area of Waterloo to Blackfriars, becomes a serendipitous site for thinking about the stakes of cultural translation where notions of nationhood are underscored by translations that trigger short cuts and fissures to meaning.

Keywords:Theatre translation, Globalisation, Theatres, contemporary playwriting, FIRT, IFTR
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q910 Translation studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:11359
Deposited On:30 Jul 2013 09:11

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