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Adaptation and Translation

What considerations are at play when adapting and translating works for the stage? Content in this section explores work that is adapted from one form into another, or is translated between languages. A great place to start is the Translating the Future series, in which renowned translators from around the world discuss their craft.

The Latest

Building an Audience for Malawian Political Theatre
Podcast
Building an Audience for Malawian Political Theatre
by Fumbani Innot Phiri, Bright Phumayo Chayachaya
22 November 2022
Development of Malawian Theatre
Podcast
Development of Malawian Theatre
A Conversation with Maxwell Chiphinga
by Fumbani Innot Phiri, Maxwell Chiphinga
9 November 2022
Shakespeare in Gdansk: A Vessel for Past, Present, and Future
Essay
Shakespeare in Gdansk: A Vessel for Past, Present, and Future
by Monica Payne
29 September 2022
Teaser image for Season 1, Episode 5 of Critical Stages In Malawian Contemporary Theatre featuring the headshot of Bright Phumayo Chayachaya.
Building an Audience for Malawian Political Theatre
Podcast

Building an Audience for Malawian Political Theatre

22 November 2022

Bright Phumayo Chayachaya’s Umunthu Theatre pulls together political theatre, poor theatre, theatre for development, and educational theatre to create productions that centralize Malawian narratives. In this interview, he discusses the company’s genesis and the need to bring audiences back to theatre.

Critical Stages in Malawian Contemporary Theatre teaser image with the title at the top and a picture of the guest in the middle.
Development of Malawian Theatre
Podcast

Development of Malawian Theatre

A Conversation with Maxwell Chiphinga

9 November 2022

Maxwell Ciphinga, better known as Max DC, has weathered massive changes in the audience, form, and funding of Malawian theatre throughout his four-decade career. In this interview, he shares his perspective on the industry and discusses his policy and producorial work as the president of Malawi’s new National Theatre Association.

A woman dancing on stage.
Shakespeare in Gdansk: A Vessel for Past, Present, and Future
Essay

Shakespeare in Gdansk: A Vessel for Past, Present, and Future

29 September 2022

Monica Payne recaps the 26th international Gdansk Shakespeare Festival, where artists from around the globe adapted, deconstructed, and celebrated Shakespeare’s plays through boldly contemporary productions.

Eight actors dressed in costume singing together on stage.
A Music Man for Deaf Audiences
Essay

A Music Man for Deaf Audiences

6 September 2022

Melissa Lin Sturges shares her experience attending Olney Theatre Center’s bilingual production of The Music Man, which was presented in both English and American Sign Language.

Daughters of Lorraine Podcast teaser.
Writing Detroit: Dominique Morisseau’s Practice of the Possible
Podcast

Writing Detroit: Dominique Morisseau’s Practice of the Possible

10 August 2022

Jordan Ealey and Leticia Ridley interview award-winning and acclaimed playwright Dominique Morisseau about her recent Broadway productions of Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations and Skeleton Crew; the future of Detroit theatre and performance; and reckoning with American history. Ealey and Ridley discuss Morisseau’s practice of reparative creativity and the ability for theatre to serve as a rehearsal for true change.

A Black performer wearing patterned headband and yellow shirt on stage
No Longer Your “Token Black Bitch”
Essay

No Longer Your “Token Black Bitch”

8 August 2022

Theatremaker Latrice Richardson addresses the ongoing misogynoir in storytelling by detailing one of her past experiences and advocates for better representation of Black women in theatre.

Kunafa and Shay Teaser Image.
Iranian Theatre Companies
Podcast

Iranian Theatre Companies

With Parmida Ziaei (Seda, Seattle) & Shadi Ghaheri (Peydah, NYC)

11 May 2022

In the greater conversation about MENA or SWANA identity, many national and ethnic groups do not neatly fit into that category or are in between geographic areas. One of the largest groups that are both within and without what is considered the “Middle East” is Iran. So many Iranian leaders are making intentional space for the diversity and specificity of their culture by creating companies for Iranian artists. In this episode, we highlight two Iranian theatre companies: Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble in Seattle, WA, and Peydah Theatre Company in NYC.

From the Ground Up Podcast image featuring Rachel Dickstein.
Process Performances and the Completion Commission
Podcast

Process Performances and the Completion Commission

15 December 2021

Rachel Dickstein, Artistic Director of Ripe Time, takes us through her experience with Center Theatre Group’s completion commission for their adaptation of SLEEP. She also spotlights some necessary and helpful relationships with tour presenting partners, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, as well as champion and friend Diane Rodriguez.

Seven Black actors performing on stage accompanied by the band.
The Shakespeare In Paradise Festival
Essay

The Shakespeare In Paradise Festival

A Celebration of Bahamian Theatre and Performance

23 November 2021

Robert Hubbard sits down with Dr. Nicolette Bethel and Philip A. Burrows to discuss their creation of the annual Shakespeare in Paradise Festival in the Bahamas.

A Theatre for the Oppressed? Dr. Amy Richlin on Slavery and Plautus
Podcast

A Theatre for the Oppressed? Dr. Amy Richlin on Slavery and Plautus

10 November 2021

The ancient Roman comedies of Plautus have inspired playwrights from Shakespeare to Sondheim. But they've also been seen as grim reminders of the oftentimes horrifying world of ancient Rome, where violence and slavery were commonplace. Dr. Amy Richlin joins Mike Lueger to talk about her book Slave Theater in the Roman Republic, which explores how Plautus's plays gave voice to enslaved persons during this era.

poster for the panel discussion.
Adaptation and New Creation
Video

Adaptation and New Creation

Featuring Meme Garcia, Lauren Gunderson, Avi Amon, Réal Vargas Alanis, and Fran Astorga

Thursday 21 October 2021
United States

In this panel invited playwrights featured a part of the New American Theatre Festival discuss their process of creation and adaptation. Playwrights include Avi Amon, Lauren Gunderson, Réal Alanis, Meme Garcia and Fran Astorga. The conversation will be moderated by Amrita Ramanan. We will discuss with each writer leaning into the power of joy and decentering the tropes of trauma.

Actress Tawana Montgomery playing Deborah Scott. Photo credit: Greg Mooney
Organizing History in the Alliance Theatre’s Working: A Musical
Essay

Organizing History in the Alliance Theatre’s Working: A Musical

17 August 2021

Margarita Kompelmakher details the Alliance Theatre’s process of adapting Working into a community-engaged production that both modeled grassroots organizing and told the story of the work of organizers in the city.

six performers on a stage with watery blue silks
Learning from the Leaders
Essay

Learning from the Leaders

Deaf Theatre Innovations in the Time of COVID-19

3 May 2021

Luane Davis Haggerty shares successes, learnings, and innovations from the Deaf theatre community over the past year of pandemic performance.

event poster with text for unrehearsed futures episode four.
Unrehearsed Futures: Theatre Making
Video

Unrehearsed Futures: Theatre Making

Episode 4: Transference and Transposition - Notes from across the boundaries of the original medium

Thursday 29 April 2021
South Africa

Presenting Unrehearsed Futures: Theatre Making livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Thursday 29 April 2021 at 5 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 10 a.m. BST (London, UTC +1) / 11 a.m. SAST (Cape Town, UTC +2) / 2:30 p.m. IST (Mumbai, UTC +5:30) / 7 p.m. AEST (Hobart, UTC +10).

An image of six actors forming a semi circle around and actor standing on actors block , The actor on the block, is lifting food to their mouth with pained expression.
The Classical Theatre of the Oppressed
Essay

The Classical Theatre of the Oppressed

Adapting The Vagina Monologues in Malawi

13 April 2021

Fumbani Innot Phiri Jr. details the creative process of the production of The Vagina Monologues that took place during 16 Days of Activism in Malawi and offers his thoughts, as an audience member, on the show’s big impact.

A picture of puppets on stage.
La Máquina Real / La Máquina Real
Essay

La Máquina Real / La Máquina Real

Reviving a Baroque Puppet Tradition / Recupera los títeres de una tradición perdida

8 April 2021

Emilio Williams sits down with Jesús Caballero to talk about the lost puppetry genre called la máquina real and Jesús’s company in Spain that works to reimagine this Baroque art form. / Emilio Williams entabla una conversación con Jesús Caballero sobre un género de teatro de títeres olvidado de nombre la máquina real y los esfuerzos de Jesús y su compañía en España por recuperar esta tradición barroca.

four actors posing for a photo
Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway
Essay

Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway

Virginia Grise’s Stage Adaptation of Helena Maria Viramontes’s Their Dogs Came with Them

17 March 2021

Manuel Muñoz reflects on Virginia Grise’s adaptation of Their Dogs Came with Them, which took place in fall 2019 under the colossal concrete freeway ramps of the I-10 freeway that dissect South Tucson from the edge of the Sonoran Desert.

an actor onstage
Adapting to Pandemic Regulations
Essay

Adapting to Pandemic Regulations

A New Way of Performance Watching for an Old Classic

4 March 2021

Merve Parla shares her experience with Netherlands-based dance company Club Guy & Roni’s recent production of Swan Lake, an interactive experience with both offline and online components.

Tropical Angels A New Musical Reading poster.
Tropical Angels, a new musical
Video

Tropical Angels, a new musical

The English premiere of a work written in Chinese and English exploring different possibilities to devise translated theatre.

Wednesday 11 November 2020
United States

Musical Theatre Factory presented the Tropical Angels, a new musical reading livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Wednesday 11 November 2020 at 3:30 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 5:30 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 6:30 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).

zoom video chat
Breaking New Post-dramatic Ground
Essay

Breaking New Post-dramatic Ground

Wesleyan University’s The Method Gun

28 September 2020

Jean Tarbox discusses Wesleyan University’s Zoom adaptation of The Method Gun as a radical invention that invited audiences to see and interpret reality on a deeper, more perceptual basis.

a collage of 14 headshots.
A Flight of Tokarczuk Translators
Video

A Flight of Tokarczuk Translators

A conversation moderated by Susan Harrris featuring 10 of Olga Tokarczuk's translators

Friday 25 September 2020
International

PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library presented A Flight of Tokarczuk Translators livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 25 September 2020 at 10 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 9 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 15:00 BST (London, UTC +1) / 16:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC +2).

Natalie Diaz, Marilyn Nelson, and Ken Liu.
Democracy and Translation
Video

Democracy and Translation

With Marilyn Nelson, Natalie Diaz, and Ken Liu

Thursday 24 September 2020
New York City

PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library presented Democracy and Translation livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 24 September 2020 at 7:00 p.m. EDT (Boston, UTC -4) / 6:00 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 5:00 p.m. MDT (Denver, UTC -6) / 2:00 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. HST (Honolulu, UTC -10).

Ava Chin, Jasmine Claude-Narcisse, Damion Searls, and Lisandro Pérez.
Postmonolingual New York
Video

Postmonolingual New York

A conversation with Ava Chin, Jasmine Claude-Narcisse, Damion Searls, and Lisandro Pérez.

PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library presented Postmonolingual New York livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Wednesday 23 September 2020 at 6:00 p.m. EDT (Boston, UTC -4) / 5:00 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 4:00 p.m. MDT (Denver, UTC -6) / 1:00 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 12 p.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 10 a.m. HST (Honolulu, UTC -10).

On the Elusive Art of Translation
Video

On the Elusive Art of Translation

A conversation with Kate Briggs and Tracy K. Smith, moderated by Magdalena Edwards

Tuesday 22 September 2020
United States

PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library presented On the Elusive Art of Translation livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 22 September 2020 at 10:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 12:30 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 1:30 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:30 BST (London, UTC +1) / 19:30 CEST (Berlin, UTC +2).

Anton Hur, Sevinç Türkkan, and Jen Hofer.
Activist Translation
Video

Activist Translation

A conversation with Anton Hur, Sevinç Türkkan, and Jen Hofer

Tuesday 15 September 2020
International

PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library presented Activist Translation livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 15 September 2020 at 9:00 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 11:00 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12:00 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 17:00 BST (London, UTC +1) / 01:00 KST (Seoul, UTC +9).