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Call for Papers
Transportation & Maps
David Philips (University of North Carolina)
What is a “play”? Is it the script? the performance? And who is its “author”? – the playwright? the director? the actors? Such questions, stemming to a large extent from the peculiar nature of (literary) drama itself, align the staging of drama with literary translation – for in both cases there is a transferal of an art-object from one medium (or language) to another, and the involvement of a mediating third party, in addition to author and audience.
The relations between page and stage are not always clear-cut (an ambiguity that has been exploited by directors with sometimes startlingly original results). The traditional difficulties of literary translation – primary among them, the issue of interpretation and the question of “explicitation” – are compounded in the translation of a two-dimensional literary text consisting solely in language to a three-dimensional staged production consisting in set, props, costumes, and physical movement as well as language in the form of spoken dialogue, and become more profoundly problematic in the staging of any author’s plays. But "even more than with other authors,” writes Jonathan Kalb in 1989’s Beckett in performance, “the subject of directing Beckett is inextricably bound up with questions of faithfulness to text, mostly because this ordinarily reticent author has been extraordinarily vocal in his objections to faithlessness" (71).
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