Translating ‘emerging’ playwrights: globalisation, innovation, praxis

O'Thomas, Mark (2013) Translating ‘emerging’ playwrights: globalisation, innovation, praxis. In: Ways in, Ways out and "Ways through the Labyrinth" of Drama/Theatre/Performance Translation & Dramaturgy, 6th June 2013, University of South Wales.

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


In 1956, George Devine declared the Royal Court to be a “writers’ theatre” heralding in not so much an era but more a state of permanence for the Sloane Square venue with the following 57 years seeing it consistently developing and presenting new writing for the stage. For the past 17 years, however, its attention and development activity have begun to look beyond the confines of the Anglophone world to locations where plays are not written in English by writers who may well understand relatively little of the Royal Court or its distinctive output. Now boasting coverage of more than 70 countries and 30 languages, the theatre’s world route map resembles something from an intercontinental airline’s in-flight magazine. But why did the ‘international’ take hold of the Royal Court when it did and what role does translation play in negotiating, facilitating and promoting that process?

This paper focuses on the role of the translator in translating the work of relatively new and inexperienced playwrights from other languages into English. Drawing on recent examples of my own work at the Royal Court and the National Theatre, I will contextualise this work in relation to social, political, cultural and technological changes. Taking the international activity of the Court as a paradigm example of translation’s ability to innovate within the tightest of prisms, I will explore both the ethical issues and the financial impact of this work – for the theatre, its international playwrights, and its translators. Finally, I will survey the current landscape of translation theory and its relevance, or otherwise, to current theatre translation practices, pointing the way to a number of developments that posit exciting challenges for all translators in the future.

Keywords:theatre translation, theatre studies, translation studies, Drama, dramaturgy
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
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)
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ID Code:9992
Deposited On:13 Jun 2013 18:42

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