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Translation of Theatrical Texts

"Welcome to the theater! Where everything is fake but nothing is false." (Gigi Proietti)

Traduzione-IN - Traduzione testo teatrale

Translation of texts of theatrical works

The theater, a privileged creative object, compared to other literary artistic forms also subject to translation services, offers the viewer apolysemic art in which, within a single word, different meanings coexist and where the relationship between actor and audience is always established in a direct, spontaneous and immediate way. Assuming the main role in the theatrical process, dramaturgical actors express themselves through their bodies and words, moving on two distinct and sensitive axes of communication that the translator of dramaturgical texts or comedies must always consider: that of the actor towards the audience and that of the character towards the character. The voices of actors and their vibrant gestures make the information relating to the dialogues, the relationships between the protagonists and the extras and the theatrical narrative plot explicit.

Traduzione testo teatrale

When the translator theater fan artist rises to the rank of author, actor, set designer

The translation of the theatrical word is the translation of something communicable aloud, of recitation, a creative gesture that is carried out with a dogmatic tone through infinite interpretative acts, always represented live. In the theater, each message must be considered in close relation to the surrounding scene, while deictic language expressions are used that refer to the spatial-temporal situation, so that the world-creating function of the work can allow language to play an active role on the perception of each individual spectator/reader.

The useful indications for staging and translating a theatrical text are not directly present in the dramatic dialogue, but are obtained from other signs, such as the silences of language; or they are put in brackets by the author, to designate the path to follow in the construction of the scenic space and time, of the characters and their actions. In the Translation-IN Agency we asked ourselves how to intactly restore the linguistic complexity linked to this ancient literary form. Our response has materialized in the commitment to be able to provide a translation of scenic writing that is not only a passage from one linguistic heritage to another but, above all, the integral relocation of its orality, so that directors, set designers and actors can return the theatrical text expressed in another language in which the historicization remains unaltered.

The concept of performability of theatrical translation

In theatrical performance, linguistic means have the function of constituting the action recited by the actors. In theatrical language translated into dramatic dialogue, the key factor of linguistic acts coincides with the ability to follow and the repeatability of the narrated events. In doing so, the dialogue of a dramatic play stages a linguistic system based on the rule 'of speaking strictly at one's turn'. In this context, admirably orchestrated by the author, each actor waits for their interlocutors to have finished their intervention before proceeding systematically with their own. In fact, theatrical translators operate in an area in which the scenic transposition of the text has already been entirely encrypted and encoded. A situation that is also the same, in a perhaps less celebrated way, also for audiovisual translators expert in translations of fiction, means of entertainment that propose themselves as a faithful reproduction of everyday reality, in their structure of dialogues, betray an ineffable 'theatrical' condition.

Traduzione testo teatrale
Traduzione testo teatrale

The concept of performability of theatrical script translations

While dramaturgy translators produce translations only for one publisher, more attention is paid to the philology of the original text. In this circumstance, theatrical translation is assimilated to literary translation, in which, however, dialogue assumes a predominant function over narration.

Translation of theatrical texts for scenography

If translators are commissioned a translation by a director, or directly by a theatrical body, their work assumes the appropriate requirements for a text represented on the stage; in fact, in this case the criteria of performability assume an absolute value thanks to the validity of the corresponding translation. Only the stage representation can validate the value reached by a translation. This leads to a reading based on the dichotomy between performability and readability, between orality and writing of the theatrical translation properly defined: the concept of performability, that is, of a translation service dedicated to scenic representation and that of readability or care of the translation mainly directed to the written text. In the exercise of literary translation and in this case, of theatrical translation, professional translators still find themselves faced with the following dilemma: assimilate the text in the culture of the language to which the translation is addressed (naturalizing communicative translation)? or stick to a distinctly conservative translation (alienating semantic translation), or respectfully conform to the original text and the culture that generated it? The latter approach could generate a text that is not completely intelligible by the global recipients of the work.

Traduzione testo teatrale
Traduzione testo teatrale

Translation: an eternal operation of adaptation

An "acceptable" theatrical translation tends to hide its nature as translated literary content since recreation takes place according to the precepts of the culture that receives the translation work and distributes it. In some cases, even if the degree of acceptability is maintained at a high level, the tenor of the translated text clearly denounces its identity as a metatext, marking its natural "enslavement" with respect to the original prototext. Some literary works are more suitable for "translation-without-translation", while others are more suitable for translation with assimilation. From this emerges the need for the literary-theatrical translator to identify a series of priorities in which to isolate the values in the original text that must be safeguarded so that the text being translated can prove adequate compared to that of the original. Translation-IN agency translators therefore have the task of identifying the variants of the text they are producing. This scale of values to be transferred is inevitably subjected to the subjectivity of professional translators, who, although they aspire to strictly follow the text, cannot eliminate their personal tastes. Attentive and insightful translators will therefore have to decide whether to "sympathize" with a restoration of the factors present in the text, permuting them into as many mirror correspondences understandable for the receiving culture.