Closure of Conference project. Post-Conference Plans

Many many thanks to everyone who participated in the conference, to all those who presented papers, read their poetry or translations, contributed to discussions or just came to listen.

This blog will remain open as a record of the conference proceedings and will continue to include the programme, the abstracts of the presentations and the short biographies of the participants.

We have removed the conference papers from this site because we intend to include revised versions in a post-conference book. This book will not be a representation of the conference proceedings as such, however, but a volume of articles roughly reflecting the structure of the conference. The book will be edited by Ursula Philips, supported by a team of advisers (Urszula Chowaniec, Knut Andreas Grimstad, Kris Van Heuckelom and Elwira Grossman). It is expected that the volume will appear in 2013.

Should anyone wish to contact the authors of papers or read the original papers, please contact the conference organizer.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Catherine Grosvenor

Translating the moment: experiences in translating contemporary Polish drama for the UK stage
This paper will give a brief overview of the current attitudes to Polish drama among UK theatres, focusing on the National Theatre and the Royal Court. The massive success of “Our Class” seems more of a one-off than the first in a series of first-class Polish drama on UK stages. I will consider some of the reasons for this, before moving on to discuss the translation process in British theatres.
   Unlike the translation of novels or poetry, theatrical translations often go through a two-part process, featuring a  “literal translation” which is then passed on to a playwright who often has no knowledge of the original language. This is the process through which “Our Class” was created, with myself as the literal translator. I will explore some of the issues arising from this way of working and look in detail at a speech from the play to show how it changed throughout the process.
   I will then contrast that process with the way the Royal Court prefers to work, which is to find a playwright who speaks the language concerned, and commission them to produce a full translation of the play. I will use my experience working on a UK version of Paweł Demirski’s “Był Sobie Polak Polak Polak i Diabeł” (unperformed in the UK) to discuss the challenges here.
   A comparison of the work of Demirski and Słobodzianek is also enlightening because the two work within very different theatrical traditions. My aim as a theatrical translator is to “translate the moment” of what is happening on stage. After looking at what this means in general, I will compare the moments that each writer creates on stage and consider the implications of this for the translator.