Academic journal article Making Connections

Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart on the Turkish Stage: The Role Gender Plays in Theater Adaptations

Academic journal article Making Connections

Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart on the Turkish Stage: The Role Gender Plays in Theater Adaptations

Article excerpt

The translation process often presents a dilemma concerning the value given to it. It is either "figured literally and metaphorically in secondary terms" (Chamberlain 307) or, as Susan Bassnett claims, as "a creative act" (36), powerful and constantly on the move. For instance, Nicole Ward Jouve, in White Woman Speaks with Forked Tongue (1991), declares that a translator engages in a "female position" (47) when considering the secondary nature of the translated text. It can be argued that a translated text is merely a mimetic version, or a reproduction, of the source text, and as Sherry Simon argues in her book entitled, Gender in Translation: Cultural Identity and the Politics of Transmission, "the hierarchical authority of the original over the reproduction is linked with imagery of masculine and feminine" (1). For this reason, the translated text is accepted as inferior to the original, which echoes the patriarchal partition between the male and the female.

However, in opposition to this perspective, as Patrick Primavesi argues, The task of the translator remains contradictory: He is forced to adapt his own language more or less mimetically to a foreign text- comparable to an actor wearing a costume that doesn't fit well. On the other hand, he is obliged to destroy and replace the original text with a new one that eliminates the traces of the old, even hiding its disappearance. (55)

Thus, through this perspective, one can assume that the task of the translator is a brutal one: destroying the source text as he/she tries to imitate it. From this point of view, the secondary nature of the translated text is diminished, since it replaces the source text. This paper analyzes how a translated text overrules and replaces the source text. In this process, the translator assumes the role of a mythmaker, since the translator ingrains his/her perspectives into the translated text. For the purposes of exemplifying how a translator becomes a mythmaker, Aclan Biiyiiktiirkoglu's translation and stage adaptation of Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart (1978) is discussed.

Crimes of the Heart is a tragicomedy revolving around the lives of three sisters coping with the hardships in their lives. The play is set in the American South, Hazlehurst, Mississippi, five years after the destructive Hurricane Camille in 1969. Here is a brief description of the three MaGrath sisters. Lenny is the oldest sister and she is thirty years old. She is the one who has assumed the role of the spinster, due to her "shrunken ovary" (Henley 29), and is looking after their grandfather, who is now in a coma at the hospital. Meg is twenty-seven and has left the house to seek her fortune as a singer in Hollywood. However, like many, she has failed in her pursuit and has been paying "cold- storage bills for a dog food company" (Henley 19) in Los Angeles. Babe is twenty-four and has married the most powerful man in town, but she ultimately shot him in the stomach because she did not "like his looks" (Henley 14). The reunion of the three sisters depends on this incident, and as Laurin Porter argues, "all three confront demons from the past" (197) in this reunion. Translated into Turkish and directed by Aclan Biiyiiktiirkoglu, the play was staged by the Ankara State Theatres in the 2008-2009 theater season. After analyzing the choices a male director has conducted in the translation and the production, one is able to clearly understand that the play has undergone significant changes from Beth Henley's text. These changes demonstrate the struggle of a male artist to possess the text by altering the analysis of the play transmitted by the source text, written by Henley. As a male translator and director, Aclan Biiyiiktiirkoglu's pursuit to overrule Beth Henley's text echoes the historical tendencies operating to silence women.

To begin with, under the direction of Biiyiiktiirkoglu, the ages of the sisters increase: the thirty-year-old Lenny becomes forty, Meg become thirty-seven, and Babe thirty-four. …

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