Some Thoughts about Theater Translation in Francophone and Anglophone Canada

By Forsyth, Louise H. | Quebec Studies, Fall-Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Some Thoughts about Theater Translation in Francophone and Anglophone Canada


Forsyth, Louise H., Quebec Studies


... the idea that it is impossible to translate, but at the same time that it is intolerable not to translate

Antoine Vitez

But most of all, I would say, here's a writer, and I think of all writers as voices in the wilderness, people who are daring to stand up and try to name the very peculiar angst or joy of this decade, this century, this place.

Linda Gaboriau

Introduction

Theater translation has been a significant and sustained cultural phenomenon in Quebec and Canada for more than half a century. Plays in translation have been fellow-travellers over these decades with the hundreds of fine, original plays that have been performed and published in both French and in English. Despite the large number of theater translations, however, they have not yet been studied with the same critical and theoretical thoroughness as has translation of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. The impact of translators' strategies is not widely appreciated; the effect on meaning production of the many bends in discursive channels through which theater translations pass as a result of interpretive imperatives remains relatively unexplored. Nor, for the most part, have theater translations found an enduring place in either this country's theater histories or what is generally accepted as its canons. Instead, they seem to be seen as having been the occasional, somewhat surprising blip on the evolving cultural landscape. It would be unwise to affirm that theater translations have been recognized as having had overarching influence on their target communities and audiences in either direction in Canada.

Louise Ladouceur is one of the first to have done an exhaustive study of theater translation in Canada. In Making the Scene. La Traduction du theatre d'une langue officielle a l'autre au Canada she directed her attention at translations of plays for adult audiences having had a professional performance and/or been published between 1950 and 2000. Ladouceur provides descriptive and comparative analyses of translations of the works of twelve of the most translated Canadian playwrights, six from each side of the official language divide. She also provides insight into the interplay between the body of translated works and this country's many sociopolitical and cultural systems. Her compilation of translations shows that Canada's theater translation corpus has not replicated with any particular fidelity the shape and content of the country's entire theater corpus, whether in French or in English. Her tally shows that one hundred forty-six plays by francophone playwrights were translated into English, while sixty-nine works by anglophone playwrights were translated into French--that is, less than half the number translated into English. Several of the translations into French were produced in theaters outside Quebec. Less than 20% of the translated plays were by women: twenty-six translated from French to English, and fourteen translated from English to French, despite the fact that this was the time feminist theater exploded onto Canada's stages and despite the hundreds of excellent new plays written by female playwrights. In the same vein, I note that few of the translated plays were by Aboriginal or other ethnically marginalized playwrights. The works of certain playwrights figure prominently on the list; others that one would expect to see are not there at all, while a certain number are by writers whose work is relatively unknown in the original.

These figures, which give an idea of the impressive extent of theater translation, show it would be an error to assume that theater pieces have been passing transparently, rapidly, and in relative equilibrium among the cultures of the two official languages of this country. In fact, the asymmetry and other anomalies shown by the data suggest that there are complex forces at work in both official language communities of Canada driving theater translation in divergent ways. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Some Thoughts about Theater Translation in Francophone and Anglophone Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.