Drama/Theatre Translation Jacob Blakesley
Drama vs Theatre Translation The distinction comes from Aristotle who placed drama as a literary genre Drama translation as part of the literary system following its traditions, conventions, agents, etc. Theatre translation as part of the theatrical system following its own traditions, conventions, agents, etc.
Drama Translation • Drama text as literary text • Performance as transposition of the text on stage • Priority given to the text • Text taken as autonomous • Deviations are not well accepted References: Brecht (1964), Stanislavski (1968), Styan (1971), Mukarovsky (1976), Kowzan (1975), Artaud (1993), Ubersfeld (1996, 1999)
Theatre Translation • Drama text as part of the theatrical system • Performance as the complete product • Text as the starting point • Text as incomplete if not as part of the performance where it communicates with other elements References: Brecht (1964), Stanislavski (1968), Styan (1971), Mukarovsky (1976), Kowzan (1975), Artaud (1993), Ubersfeld (1996, 1999)
Drama ≠Theatre Translation • A less extreme position is possible (Veltrusky 1977, Short 1998, Taylor 1996, Bassnett 1997, Aaltonen2000) • The same text can be part of two different systems • Its production and reception will be mediated by the conventions and expectations of each system • Different systems mean different sets of mediating factors • Through translation a text can move from one system to the other • At times, the same translation aims at both systems
Drama Translation All plays, not only closet plays, are read by the public in the same way as poems and novels. The reader has neither the actors nor the stage but only language in front of him. Quite often he does not even imagine the characters as stage figures or the place of action as scenic set. Even if he does, the difference between drama and theatre remains intact because the stage figures and scenic sets are then immaterial meanings whereas in the theatre they are the material bearers of meanings. (Veltrusky, 1997: 34)
Drama ≠Theatre Translation Different Medium - Published / Written text – Written translation to be read - Performance / Spoken text – Written transl. to be spoken as if not written (cf. Gregory and Carrol (1978) typology) EXAMPLE: The translation of dialects Can we still use eye dialect when the text is going to be spoken?
Drama ≠Theatre Translation Different levels of textual intervention - Follows the conventions of each system - The translator and director enjoy a different status - Readers and audience have different expectations - Different moments of reception - Different social function Drama translation – tendency for source oriented strategies Theatre translation – tendency for target oriented strategies
Concept of “Performability” • For a long time this was taken as the main criterion for a good translation • Stems from theories of equivalence • Can be seen as an extension of the concept of “translatability” • Today is a very criticised concept • It is a very historically determined concept which should be understood less as a criterion of quality and more as an indicator of power relations • Important to consider the concept of “collaborative translation”
Concept of “Performativity” The greatest advantage of seeing translation as performative is that it allows us to place originals and translations, source and target texts, dramatic texts and performances on the same cline, where what counts is not the degree of distance from an ontological original but the effect that the reconfigured text (as performance) has on the receiving culture and its networks of transmission and reception. Marinetti (2013: 311)
Comedy • No precise definition, broad boundaries • Generally about ordinary people • Written in a style that is amusing, or at least agreeable • Happy ending • (traditionally: low characters, low level of discourse) • Comedy of ideas (satire) • Comedy of character • Comedy of wit, language • Comedy of situation or farce • Comedy of pain (slapstick) • The "dirty" joke - bathroom humour
Tragedy A tragedy is a play that recounts the ordeals and death of a person of high rank (a king, a great general, a mythological hero) who confronts a situation from which there is absolutely no escape, often because he or she has made some serious transgression. Though very few tragedies are written today, the idea of the tragic – this feeling of foreboding when a hero has no escape and we are forced to recognize the powerlessness inherent in the human condition – still serves as a driving force for many playwrights and directors.
Drama • Portrays the trials of ordinary people • It differs from tragedy in several respects: • Its characters are not of high rank; • their predicament is not inescapable; • their actions will not jeopardize the future of a state or a people; • the outcome is not necessarily death. • Drama portrays characters whose desires come into conflict with powerful forces like the past and social conventions (Ibsen), the psyche (Strindberg) or a society’s economic, social, and political fabric (BertoltBrecht)
To be read / performed • Stage directions • Characters’ discourse • Time/space of translation
Stage directions To be read • Normally translated in similar faction to the narrator’s speech • Some plays have no stage directions (Caryl Churchill’s play A Number) • Sometimes added to texts with no stage directions • Depends on the edition To be performed • Translated as it is in the first instance • Taken as a starting point for director and actors • Sometimes translators add their own comments if they uncover extra linguistic meaning in what is included in the stage directions
Characters’ discourse To be read • Written discourse to be read • Recreation tends to follow the norms and tradition of the literary system • Needs to stand longer the test of time To be performed • Written discourse to be spoken as if not read/written • Recreation tends to follow the norms of the theatrical system and target culture spoken discourse • intended for immediate reception
Time/space To be read • Not possible to know how long the translation will stay in circulation • Preference for features that stand the test of time • Can be read anywhere (type of edition provided useful information) To be performed • Does not normally ‘survive’ for long • Preference for features with the desired effect on that particular audience, time, space • The translator and company know where it is going to be performed and have a good idea of the type of audience.
Function • Entertainment • New author/new play • Pedagogical purposes • New translation • Renewal of the canon • Renewal of linguistic practices • Social intervention The last three are more frequently assumed by theatre translations.
‘Poetry is all I write’ • ‘Poetry is all I write, whether for books, or readings, or for the National Theatre, or for the opera house and concert hall, or even for TV’. • Tony Harrison, in Bloodaxe Critical Anthologies: Tony Harrison, ed. Neil Astley (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1991), 9.
‘Them and [uz]’ 1/2 ‘Them and [uz]’ I αίαι, ay, ay! … stutterer Demosthenes gob full of pebbles outshouting seas – 4 words only of mi ‘art aches and … ‘Mine’s broken, you barbarian, T.W.!’ He was nicely spoken. ‘Can’t have our glorious heritage done to death!’ I played the Drunken Porter in Macbeth. ‘Poetry’s the speech of kings. You’re one of those Shakespeare gives the comic bits to: prose! All poetry (even Cockney Keats?) you see ‘s been dubbed by [Λs] into RP, Received Pronunciation, please believe [Λs] your speech is in the hands of the Receivers.’ ‘We say [Λs] not [uz], T.W.!’ That shut my trap. I doffed my flat a’s (as in ‘flat cap’) my mouth all stuffed with glottals, great lumps to hawk up and spit out… E-nun-ci-ate!
‘Them and [uz]’ 2/2 II So right, ye buggers, then! We’ll occupy your lousy leasehold Poetry. I chewed up Littererchewer and spat the bones into the lap of dozing Daniel Jones, dropped the initials I’d been harried as and used my name and own voice: [uz] [uz] [uz], ended sentences with by, with, from, and spoke the language that I spoke at home. RIP, RP, RIP T.W. I’m Tony Harrison no longer you! You can tell the Receivers where to go (and not aspirate it) once you know Wordsworth’s matter/water are full rhymes, [uz] can be loving as well as funny. My first mention in the Times automatically made Tony Anthony!
Long distance (II) Though my mother was already two years dead Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas, put hot water bottles her side of the bed and still went to renew her transport pass. You couldn’t just drop in. You had to phone. He’d put you off an hour to give him time to clear away her things and look alone as though his still raw love were such a crime. He couldn’t risk my blight of disbelief though sure that very soon he’d hear her key scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief. He knew she’d just popped out to get the tea. I believe life ends with death, and that is all. You haven’t both gone shopping; just the same, in my new black leather phone book there’s your name and the disconnected number I still call.
from V. But why inscribe these graves with CUNT and SHIT? Why choose neglected tombstones to disfigure? This pitman's of last century daubed PAKI GIT, this grocer Broadbent's aerosolled with NIGGER? They're there to shock the living, not arouse the dead from their deep peace to lend support for the causes skinhead spraycans could espouse. The dead would want their desecrators caught! Jobless though they are how can these kids, even though their team's lost one more game, believe that the 'Pakis', 'Niggers', even 'Yids’ sprayed on the tombstones here should bear the blame? What is it that these crude words are revealing? What is it that this aggro act implies? Giving the dead their xenophobic feeling or just a cri-de-coeur because man dies?
from V. So what's a cri-de-coeur, cunt? Can't you speak the language that yer mam spoke. Think of 'er! Can yer only get yer tongue round fucking Greek? Go and fuck yourself with cri-de-coeur! 'She didn't talk like you do for a start!' I shouted, turning where I thought the voice had been. She didn't understand yer fucking 'art'! She thought yer fucking poetry obscene! I wish on this skin's words deep aspirations, first the prayer for my parents I can't make, then a call to Britain and to all nations made in the name of love for peace's sake. […]
from V. […] Next millennium you'll have to search quite hard to find out where I'm buried but I'm near the grave of haberdasher Appleyard, the pile of HARPs, or some new neonned beer. Find Byron, Wordsworth, or turn left between one grave marked Broadbent, one marked Richardson. Bring some solution with you that can clean whatever new crude words have been sprayed on. If love of art, or love, gives you affront that the grave I'm in 's graffitied then, maybe, erase the more offensive FUCK and CUNT but leave, with the worn UNITED, one small v.
from V. Victory? For vast, slow, coal-creating forces that hew the body's seams to get the soul. Will earth run out of her 'diurnal courses' before repeating her creation of black coal? If, having come this far, somebody reads these verses, and he/she wants to understand, face this grave on Beeston Hill, your back to Leeds, and read the chiselled epitaph I've planned: Beneath your feet's a poet, then a pit. Poetry supporter, if you're here to find How poems can grow from (beat you to it!) SHIT find the beef, the beer, the bread, then look behind.
Baghdad Lullaby Ssshhh! Ssshhhh! though now shrapnel makes you shriek and deformities in future may brand you as a freak, you'll see, one day, disablement's a blessing and a boon sent in baby-seeking bomblets by benefactor Hoon.
Harrison on imitation • ‘I learnt all the metres by imitation; it gives you a structure from which to venture out, like being on a trapeze but having a wire to catch you if you fall’. • Tony Harrison, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/mar/31/poetry.tonyharrison.
Palladas: Poems, tr. Tony Harrison 1. Life’s a performance. Either join in lightheartedly, or thole the pain. 2. Don’t fash yourself, man! Don’t complain.
Palladasin translation Tony Harrison Think of your conception, you’ll soon forget what Plato puffs you up with, all that ‘immortality’ and ‘divine life’ stuff. Man, why dost thou think of Heaven? Nay Consider thine origins in common clay ’s one way of putting it but not blunt enough. Think of your father, sweating, drooling, drunk, You, his spark of lust, his spurt of spunk. Palladas Ἂνμνήμην, ἄνθρωπε, λάβῃς, ὁ πατήρσετί ποιῶν ἔσπειρεν, παύσῃτῆςμεγαλοφροσύνης. ἀλλ᾿ ὁΠλάτωνσοὶτῦφονὀνειρώσσωνἐνέφυσεν, ἀθάνατόνσελέγωνκαὶφυτὸνοὐράνιον. ἐκ πηλοῦγέγονας· τίφρονεῖςμέγα; τοῦτομὲνοὕτως εἶπ᾿ ἄντις, κοσμῶν πλάσματισεμνοτέρῳ. εἰδὲλόγονζητεῖςτὸνἀληθινόν, ἐξἀκολάστου λαγνείαςγέγοναςκαὶμιαρᾶςῥανίδος. [my gloss: If you remember, man, how your father engendered you, you would cease from pride. But dreaming Plato implanted conceit in you, calling you an immortal and heavenly plant. You came from the earth: why do you think of greatness? This is how someone speaks who’s embellishing a solemn fiction. If you seek the truth, you were born from licentious lust and a dirty drop.]
Martial Tony Harrison, US Martial Not Afro - not crewcut & no way out new cut but something betwixt and between. Avoid looking too hippy Or boondocks Mississippi & try if you can to keep clean. Shave so close but no closer No eau-de-mimosa, Be macho, not mucho, enough. I’m a little bit wary of hirsute or hairy & your sort of chestrug’s so rough— EVERYWHERE’S Just a jungle of hairs Your legs, your back, your behind, But one place nothing sprouts As all growth’s been plucked out ’s, Mr REDNECK, your mind! Martial Flecteretenolim, sednecturbarecapillos; Splendidasit nolo, sordida nolo cutis; Nectibimitrarumnec sit tibibarbareorum: Nolo virumnimium, Pannyche, nolo parum. Nuncsuntcrurapilis et sunttibipectorasaetis Horrida, sedmensest, Pannyche, volsatibi. -- My gloss: [I don’t want you to curl, or disorder your hair; I don’t want your skin to be shiny or dirty; Or that you wear a headband or a defendant’s beard: I don’t want too much a man, or too little. Now your legs are rough with hair and your chest With bristles, but your mind, Pannychus, is plucked.]
Translation to the stage • ‘Translation to the stage involves a further process in which the roles of the theatre practitioners—director, designer, lighting designer, actors, musicians, choreographer—are equally important alongside that of the translator’. • Lorna Hardwick, ‘Translating Greek plays for the theatre today’, Target 25:3 (2013): 322.
Teaching English in Nigeria • ‘I found the drama of my own education dramatically posed in black and white: people coming from illiterate backgrounds and reading about Wordsworth’s daffodils because it was set in their exam papers, when they didn’t know what a fucking daffodil was. There was an almost surrealistic perversity about ‘O’ Level questions, which were set by a board in England for African students’. • Tony Harrison, cit. in J. Haffenden, ‘Interview with Tony Harrison’, ed. N. Astley (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1991), 236.
Colonialism • ‘That kind of dichotomy made me think about my own education and dramatiseit, and find some of the polarities through that dramatisation. Harold Acton talked about external and internal colonialism, and I found in the history of colonial Africa a very broad, dramatic portrayal of some of the things that had happened to me’. • Tony Harrison, cit. in J. Haffenden, ‘Interview with Tony Harrison’, ed. N. Astley (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1991), 236.
Lysistrata • ‘I had done another version of the Lysistrataof Aristophanes for a group of student actors and village musicians in northern Nigeria in collaboration with the Irish poet James Simmons. The text is unperformable outside Nigeria’. • Tony Harrison, ‘Introduction’, in Plays 4 (London: Faber and Faber, 2002), 193.
Lysistrata/ Aikin Mata Tony Harrison Aristophanes Καλονίκη: ἔγὼμὲνἂν, κἂνεἴμεχρείητοὔγκυκλον /τουτὶκαταθεῖσανἐκπιεῖν αὐθημερόν. [I, if it is necessary, will pawn this dress of mine / and drink [the proceeds]] immediately.] Μυρρίνη: ἐγὼδέγ᾽ ἂν, κἂνὡσπερεὶψῆττανδοκῶ / δοῦναιἂνἐμαυτῆς παρατεμοῦσα θἤμισυ. [And I would cut myself in two and donate the half, / even if I would seem like a turbot.] Λαμπιτώ: ἐγὼνδὲκαίκα ποττὸΤαΰγετόνγ᾽ ἄνω/ ἔλσοιμ᾽ ὁπᾳμέλλοιμίγ᾽ εἰράνανἰδῆν. [And I would climb up to Mount Taygetus / if I could see peace.] Mariya: I’d do anything at all to help; anything. I’d even give up...[She searches for a fitting sacrifice]...burukutu. Halimatu: Yes, anything! I’d split myself in two like giwanruwa and give half for peace. Iyabo: Anyting ah go do, wey go bring peace for dis country, ah go do am. Even if den say, makea run up and down datKuffena hill wey de yonda.
Translation of ancient plays • ‘I believe that versions of ancient plays have to be redone for each new production’. • Tony Harrison, ‘Introduction [to The Common Chorus]’, 192.
Rehearsals • ‘All my pieces for the theatre are fundamentally altered and defined in rehearsals and previews’. • Tony Harrison, ‘Introduction [to The Oresteia]’, 35.
Drama translation • ‘Adaptations which take the form of “creative rewrites” (Billington 1984) are most likely to be successful in the case of more robust comedies, less so with plays concerned with social criticism, and least of all with psychological drama’. • GunillaAnderman, ‘Drama translation’, in RoutledgeEncyclopedia of Translation Studies, ed. M. Baker and G. Saldanha (London: Routledge, 2009), 94.
Translators of Greek tragedy • ‘The ultimate challenge for translators of Greek tragedy is to create a translation that in performance can meet both poetic and staging criteria, which in neither case can achieve exact reproduction or “authenticity”’. • Lorna Hardwick, ‘Translating Greek plays for the theatre today’, Target 25:3 (2013): 323.
Greek tragedy • ‘Greek tragedy begins where Munch's Scream leaves off—staring dumbly into atrocity’. • Tony Harrison, cit. in Herbert Golder, ‘Man Enough’, Arion 15.2 (2007): 76.
Poetry after atrocity • ‘After atrocity, poetry is the only adequate response’. • Tony Harrison cit. in Herbert Golder, ‘Man Enough’, Arion 15.2 (2007): 76.
Tragic mask • ‘The eyes of the tragic mask are always open to witness even the worst and the mouth is always open to make poetry from it. Neither ever close’. • Tony Harrison, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/oct/24/tony-harrison-speech-pen-pinter.
Oresteia Tony Harrison Blood-sucker basilisk two-headed shark-hag, Rock-trogskulking for sailors to wreck them, Hell-dam fire-breathing war war at her husband, Boundless in brazenness, hear her hosannas Like battle-cries raised when the victory seems certain. But how well she dissembles that so wifely welcome. Aeschylus ἀμφίσβαιναν, ἢΣκύλλαντινὰ οἰκοῦσανἐν πέτραισι, ναυτίλων βλάβην, θυίουσανἍιδουμητέρ᾽ ἄσπονδόντ᾽ Ἄρη φίλοιςπνέουσαν; ὡςδ᾽ ἐπωλολύξατο ἡπαντότολμος, ὥσπερἐνμάχηςτροπῇ· δοκεῖδὲχαίρειννοστίμῳσωτηρίᾳ Gloss translation: [A snake, or some Scylla living in the rocks, the bane of sailors, a raging destructive mother breathing out implacable war to her friends. How she, shameless, cried out in triumph, as if winning a battle, even as she seems to cheer at his safe return.]
Alliteration in Harrison’s Oresteia • blood-sucker / basilisk / boundless in brazenness • hag / hell-dam / husband / hear her hosannas • war / well / wifely / welcome.
D. S. Carne-Ross • ‘Ancient literature must always be re-created. There is no middle way between poetic re-creation and a crib. • D. S. Carne-Ross, ‘Translation and transposition’, in The craft and context of translation, ed. William Arrowsmith and Roger Shattuck (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961), 5.
Theatre translation • ‘All theatre practitioners are involved, to some degree, in the rewriting of a text for a particular production. What varies is not the extent to which they are involved, but the power they exercise during the process’. • SirkkuAaltonen, ‘Theatre translation as performance’, Target 25:3 (2013): 385.