Translation and dramaturgy : translating Casina for performance

  • Rachel Kirk

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Theatre translation theory has for some time been destabilised, particularly in relation to the role of the theatre translator, by the undefined notion of ‘performability’, a concept which suggests that the linguistic choices of the translator can render the script inherently performable or unperformable in the semiotic system of performance. Nevertheless, practitioners, in the current ‘dramaturgical turn’, are now demonstrating a heightened dramaturgical consciousness, documenting their practice as research in some cases, and what they perceive to be their dramaturgical choices and restitution in the translation process. However, developments in hermeneutics and semiotics have refocused criticism from a text-centred to a reader-centred analysis, meaning that the intentions of the translator, as new author, are no less subject to re-interpretation. Therefore, until we can unequivocally state that these dramaturgical choices are realised in the mise en scene by the other authors of performance - director, actors and technicians - theory, and notions of the role of the theatre translator, will remain at an impasse.

    This practice-based research seeks to engage with this impasse by exploring my own dramaturgical consciousness from a documentation of my interpretation of Plautus’ Casina, to the linguistic decisions employed to encode this interpretation, and, finally, to the production process itself where these choices are tested and developed through various rehearsals, a rehearsed-reading, and audience and practitioner feedback. By tracing these developments to determine where the script influences the creation of signs in the final mise en scene, and the relationship between the verbal and non-verbal, this thesis argues that translating for performance requires a performative and dramaturgical, rather than a simply textual or historical, re-working of the source text - thus meaning a script can be made performable - and offers a model of translation, extending existing models, to encompass the specific requirements of writing for theatre.
    Date of AwardDec 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorDavid Johnston (Supervisor) & David Robb (Supervisor)

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