British Centre for Literary Translation Seminar Series

  • Sophie Stevens (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventPublic lecture/debate/seminar


Inhabiting the Play: Theatre Translation as a Productive Site of Reflection and Research
A play in translation is never about just seeing something other than ourselves, it always challenges us to reflect on who we are and how we are acting in our current circumstances. This is why, I argue, that theatre translation is necessary in times of crisis, difficulty and challenge (even during times of pandemic). In this talk, I advocate for the ways in which theatre translation offers new perspectives which enable us to make sense of, critique, engage with and understand both the lives of others and our own situation. I draw on Doris Sommer’s The Work of Art in the World (2014) and Sarah Maitland’s What is Cultural Translation? (2017) to propose that this encounter with ideas which challenge how we think about ourselves and others occurs throughout the process of theatre translation, as the translator researches the dramatic text, and when audiences see a translated play.
In my own work as a theatre translator, I see myself as temporarily inhabiting a text and refer to Sirkku Aaltonen’s (2000) idea of the translator and other practitioners as tenants. I develop these ideas in dialogue with my recent work to translate Argentine Dramatist Mónica Maffia’s play The Anemone and The Boar, and use examples from this play to demonstrate how the translation process has sparked questions which have helped me to shape and refine the research questions for my Leverhulme project, Latin American Women Dramatists as Artists, Activists and Agents of Change. I propose that by moving into a text we occupy a space which enables us to reflect critically and creatively on research questions as we engage in the acts of translation. As a result, the process of theatre translation offers a constructive space in which the translator is constantly in dialogue with research practice.

Period28 Apr 2021
Event typePublic lecture/seminar/debate
LocationUnited Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational