Tuesday 4 March 2014

5-7 pm

Arts & Humanities Common Room - Foster Court G24

This seminar considers theatre translation and modernism. It consists of three academic papers, by Enza De Francisci, Mairéad Hanrahan, and Gareth Wood, and will touch upon the work of Pirandello, Genet, and Lorca. It will also feature a talk by theatre translator and practitioner Kate Eaton about her work translating the Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera. 

Tuesday 18 March 2014

5-7 pm

Wilkins Garden Room

The associated workshop will be an exploration of Kate Eaton’s translations of Piñera conducted by the director Gráinne Byrne (Scarlet Theatre) and professional actors.


Pirandello: From Realist Tale (“Leonora, farewell!”) to Meta-Theatrical Stage ('Tonight We Improvise')

Enza De Francisci

This paper is intended as a contribution to the conceptual node of theatre as translation by offering a systematic assessment of the methods used by Luigi Pirandello’s to transpose the short story “‘Leonora, farewell!’” (1910) to the theatre as 'Tonight We Improvise' (1928-1929). It examines what happens when the role of the narrator is withdrawn in the passage from page to stage, and illustrates not only what changes are made to the texts, but also how and why such modifications are made. It is said that Realism attempts to neutralize the distance between reality and representation, and thus this analysis explores why it is that Pirandello chooses to transpose a novella written almost twenty years earlier, and one reminiscent of the Italian realist tradition (verismo), into one of his most modernist plays-within-a-play.

Staging the Impossible

Mairéad Hanrahan

This presentation will look at Genet's stage directions in the light of his paratextual writings on theatre, notably in 'How to play The Maids', 'How to play The Balcony', 'Letters to Roger Blin' and, especially, 'The Strange Word' (where he calls for theatre to take place in a cemetery). It will explore how the difficulty, not to say the impossibility, of translating his stage directions onto the stage reflects an underlying conception of theatre as an (impossible) attempt to translate the unrepresentable.

The danger of banality: Lorca in English

Gareth Wood

This paper will examine the challenge presented by the translation of Federico García Lorca’s “rural trilogy” into English. These plays are often students’ first contact with Spanish drama or with Spanish literature at all. As such and also for other reasons, they are accompanied by a raft of particular associations and cultural baggage. They have been translated dozens of times and are widely available in multiple English-language versions. This paper proposes to examine the efforts of three prominent British writers in rendering these iconic plays: Ted Hughes ('Blood Wedding'), Anthony Weigh ('Yerma'), David Hare ('The House of Bernarda Alba'). As the prominent Hispanist Nicholas Round has pointed out, although these plays are often regarded as political responses to a particular temporal and cultural context, they offer little in the way of overt “content”. Moreover, they render their context through the use of folk song and cultural reference points which are necessarily obscure to many of their audience. When rendered insensitively in translation, such material can appear nonsensical, contrived, and bathetic. So how do Hughes, Weigh, and Hare meet the challenge?

Theatrical Poems: Translation as Shadow Play

Kate Eaton

In this talk I shall take as a starting point my translation of the Virgilio Piñera (Cuba 1912-1979) play 'Jesús' (1948) and the process used to develop that translation for performance through collaborative workshops with actors under the direction of Gráinne Byrne. I shall also look at a late Piñera piece 'El poema teatral' [The Theatrical Poem] (1969) and explore Piñera’s idea of ‘El cuerpo-teatro’ (the theatre-body).


Dr Enza De Francisci completed her PhD thesis on Verga and Pirandello (University College London) under the supervision of Prof Anna Laura Lepschy and Dr Shirley Vinall. She teaches at the Department of Italian (SELCS) and has been on research scholarships to the Scuola Normale in Pisa, the Pirandellian Institute in Rome, and the University of Bologna (DAMS). Enza currently stands on the committee of the Society of Pirandello Studies, publishing a number of articles in the journal, Pirandello Studies, and organising a series of conferences for the Society at the Bloomsbury Theatre (November 2012 and 2013). She has recently contributed to the programme of Pirandello’s 'Liolà' at the National Theatre (playing to November 6 2013) and to the lecture Liolà in Context, also at the National Theatre (October 11 2013). Enza is currently preparing a post-doctoral research project on how Shakespeare was performed in London by Italy’s grandi attori in collaboration with the Rose Theatre, Bankside, where she has convened the conference, The International Voice in Shakespeare on the London Stage (September 30 2013).

Gareth Wood is a senior lecturer in the Spanish & Latin American Studies department, where he teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish literature. He has published articles on, among others, Leopoldo Alas, Miguel de Unamuno, Lucía Etxebarria, and Almudena Grandes. His book on the translation career of the contemporary Spanish novelist Javier Marías was published by OUP in 2012.

Kate Eaton is an actor-turned-translator. In 2003 she translated Virgilio Piñera’s 'The Wedding' in collaboration with Scarlet Theatre and she has subsequently translated other Piñera plays including 'Thin Man Fat Man', 'You Always Forget Something', 'False Alarm', 'Jesus' and 'Electra Garrigó'. Her doctoral thesis awarded from QMUL in 2012 was entitled ‘False Alarms and False Excursions: Translating Virgilio Piñera for Performance’.