Theatre in the Americas defines itself through translation in relation to other cultures in the world. Translation becomes, therefore, the means by which the theatre and performance of one region of the Americas are articulated to another. Through three case studies of theatrical translation—Argentine playwright Griselda Gambaro’s Bitter Blood in Sarasota, Florida; Mexican playwright Sabina Berman’s Heresy in New York City; and Huasteca playwright Ildefonso Maya’s Ixtlamatinij in Huejutla, Mexico—this essay posits translation as an epistemological approach to theatre in the Americas, an approach that not only explores the contours of human knowledge production, but also suggests that translation enables a way of thinking, being, and acting in the world.
This paper will investigate the politics of theatre translation and translation theatre at work in the recent Rakutendan productions of The Rez Sisters and Up the Ladder, in order to suggest how indigenous theatre travels and is transformed by different bodies, languages, and audiences. The essay begins with a brief historical overview of the myth of Japan’s racial/cultural homogeneity and the particular issue of visibility in somatic and semantic terms. It then focuses on the two productions and considers telling aspects of their textual translations, as well as the ways in which they negotiated the fine line between translation theatre performance and cultural appropriation.
This essay considers a typographical illustration in Tristan Tzara’s Le Coeur à Gaz as a kind of perverse theatrical text, one that defies translation into performance and thus undermines the integrity of theatrical embodiment. Drawing on translation theory, the article argues that Tzara’s seemingly unperformable, typographical mode of dramatic writing both raises and subverts the translation of textual bodies of the page to the performing bodies of the stage, and fundamentally breaks down the division between reader and performer, text and performance, paper and theatre. This breakdown suggests that avant-garde drama and performances may not only have been antitextual, as has been widely argued, but also profoundly anti-body—a direct attack on the performing body even within the milieu of the theatre itself.