Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Actors & Directors might prefer Translation

Imagine that you are playing Shakespeare's Thersites, and another character has just invited you to "Come in and vituperate" (Act 2, scene 3 of Troilus and Cressida). Which of these two speeches would you rather deliver? ...

 Original     from Troilus and Cressida Act 2, scene 3, lines 26 ff.
Heaven bless thee from a tutor, and discipline come not near thee. Let thy blood be thy direction till thy death! then if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen.

THERSITES  (aside)

Heaven bless you from learning anything, and may the tutor called self-restraint stay wide of you! May the itch in your blood be your guide through life! Then if the old woman who lays you out thinks you make a pretty corpse, I’ll be sure she’s only done lepers. Amen.


The actor Emil Wolk (Ariel in Prospero’s Books) has commented:
It is sheer joy to read O’Connor’s re-writes of obscure sentences in the comedy of Twelfth Night! It really makes me want to jump up on stage and play Sir Andrew Aguecheek!  How wonderful the thought of not having to plough through all those obscurely dated comic lines and try to make sense of them on stage to a perplexed and bemused audience.
I really feel excited to witness what I intuitively sense is a mini revolution within Shakespeare’s own genius –one which the Bard himself would be so pleased to know was happening, if he were able to see what is going on.  

David Williamson, playwright, remarked:
I defy anyone who wasn’t a Shakespeare scholar to understand that speech of Thersites when it is spoken on stage. As you say, non-English speaking audiences are lucky enough to get contemporary translations.  . . . The exercise is long overdue.”

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