In Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019), Laera argues that theatre-makers and translators share the fundamental ethico-political position of speaking for/on behalf of others. For instance, a performer speaks on behalf of a character and a writer, and a translator can be said to write on behalf of an author. On the one hand, in this act of lending one’s voice to an other lies the risk of appropriation, especially if the speaker holds a privileged position and does not belong to the community they seek to represent. The damages caused by misrepresentation and stereotyping can perpetuate colonial power systems, leading to more silencing of those who are too often denied the right to speak on their own behalf. On the other hand, telling the stories of others whom we are not, on their behalf, is an essential element of both performance and translation/adaptation/interpretation. So, how can we ensure that, as theatre-makers and/or translators, we take care of the people we speak on behalf of? How can we speak with, and not only for, the others whose stories we wish to represent? In this seminar, we discussed a number of case studies involving translation, adaptation and performance. Participants were invited to share their views.
Margherita Laera is a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent, Canterbury, and co-Director of the European Theatre Research Network. She is the author of Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019) and Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy (Peter Lang, 2013), and the editor of Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (Bloomsbury, 2014). Margherita is also a theatre critic and theatre translator working with Italian and English. Her research on theatre translation won the Theatre and Performance Research Association’s Early Career Research Prize for 2018.