Theatrical Production as Collaborative Translation

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International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR/FIRT)
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International Federation for Theatre Research
Translation, Adaptation, and Dramaturgy Working Group
World Congress, Munich, 26-31 July 2010
Call for Papers/Participants

Theatrical Production as Collaborative Translation

For our second annual Working Group meeting, the Translation, Adaptation, and Dramaturgy working group of IFTR seeks to interrogate the nature and interaction of the terms that constitute its title. Translations of a work of literature from one language to another have often provoked assertions that the product is not, in fact, a translation, but an adaptation, a fundamental change in the nature of the original, no longer deserving of the same title, nor worthy to bear the original author’s name (often for fear that the translator/adaptor’s work might sully that author’s reputation). And indeed, the very idea of ‘fidelity’ to the original text has come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years. The instability and confusion between these terms takes on an even greater dimension when transposed to the medium of the stage, where a similar debate has long raged over the director’s ‘responsibility’ to be ‘true’ to the intent of the playwright. Here too, questions arise as to how far a director may go in ‘translating’ or ‘adapting’ a playwright’s work to the specific time and place in which it is to be presented, or if such transpositions are acceptable at all. And if we assume that some act of transformation must take place between the words that appear in the text and what appears on the stage, then does the translation from one language to another just become yet another point in the continuum that is theatrical production. We see the dramaturg as the crucial mediator in the process of affecting this translation to the stage. For our 2010 meeting in Munich, we seek proposals exploring the roles of the various contributors to this continuum of the theatrical process—playwrights, adaptors, translators, dramaturgs, directors, actors, and designers—and how their interactions affect ‘translation’ to the stage. In line with an upcoming book project, we intend to frame the debate from three rather broad angles: From Page to Page, From Page to Stage, and Devising Theatre, but with an acute awareness and recognition that these three categories are inherently and deeply interconnected.

Participants will be asked to prepare papers of approximately 10 pages (2500 words) which will be distributed in advance. At the meeting, participants will be divided into panels where they will make brief presentations of approximately five minutes, leading to a roundtable discussion. Please send proposals of 250-500 words to Kurt Taroff at by 25 January 2010.

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