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Chekhov for the 21st Century. Carol Apollonio and Angela Brintlinger, eds. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2012, 269–80.       Three Sisters as a Case Study for “Making Foreign Theater or Making Theater Foreign”* Cynthia Marsh When   a   play   is   transferred   from   one   culture   to   another,   general   questions   arise  with  respect  to  the  translation  processes  at  work.  In  staging  Three  Sisters,   for   example,   is   the   agenda   to   present   a   classic   from   Russian   culture?   Or   to   find   ways   of   making   Russian   culture   accessible   by   blending   it   with   a   new   host?  In  an  ideal  world  both  are  desirable,  but  sometimes  these  two  goals  may   be  at  odds.   The  translator  is  just  one  of  a  whole  series  of  practitioners  and  marketers   engaged  in  staging  a  foreign  play  text.  The  task  in  what  follows  is  to  identify   and  raise  awareness  of  the  choices  involved  in  the  process.  My  purpose  here   is  not  to  set  an  agenda  for  the  migrating  text,  but  to  note  some  of  the  shaping   processes  to  which  the  migrating  text  is  subject,  from  the  points  of  view  of   modern  translation  theory,  modern  directing  and  design  practice,  and  mod-­‐‑ ern  marketing.  The  general  questions  about  cultural  transfer  with  which  I  be-­‐‑ gan  quickly  lead  to  others,  but  these  two  questions  alone  imply  that  it  is  al-­‐‑ most   impossible   to   codify   rationales   underlying   the   process   of   theatrical   migration.  However,  these  rationales  can  be  explored.   The  processes  are  undoubtedly  complex,  and  several  fundamental  issues   remain  beyond  the  scope  of  this  paper.  For  example,  a  key  point,  especially   apposite  to  the  topic  of  discussing  Chekhov  in  America,  has  to  do  with  the   reference  to  “English”  as  the  target  language.  There  are  many  Englishes,  each   with   its   own   cultural   baggage   and   expectations,   which   must   affect   every   stage,  every  turn  of  the  migrating  text  towards  its  destination  and  reception.   Further  fundamental  considerations  affecting  choice  of  text  beyond  the  scope   of  this  essay  include  canon,  production  history,  availability  of  translation,  re-­‐‑ view  responses,  and  the  aural  aspects  of  production.   Three   types   of   approach   drawn   from   translation   theory   in   general   will   allow  the  discussion  to  be  simplified  and  structured  for  an  analysis  of  drama                                                                                                                             This  paper  relies  on  theoretical  points  already  elaborated  in  my  presentation  “Making   Foreign  Theatre  or  Making  Theatre  Foreign:  Russian  Theatre  in  English”  at  the  confer-­‐‑ ence   “Ibsen   and   Chekhov   on   the   Irish   Stage,”   held   at   the   Moore   Institute,   National   University  of  Ireland,  Galway,  6–7  November  2009,  forthcoming  from  Carysfort  Press   in  2011–12.  Accordingly,  there  is  some  overlap  in  the  opening  paragraphs  of  the  two   papers.  This  present  contribution,  the  case  study,  was  conceived  as  a  follow-­‐‑up.     270 CYNTHIA MARSH translation,  focusing  on  text  transference  via  performance.  These  I  have  de-­‐‑ fined   as   collision,   hybridization,   and   acculturation.   The   categories   are   not   in-­‐‑ tended  to  be  prescriptive.  As  they  stand,  the  type  of  approach  implied  within   each  term  will  produce  a  different  type  of  translation  and  subsequent  produc-­‐‑ tion.  The  key  point  here  is  that  the  choices  made  by  the  series  of  practitioners   and   marketers   are   as   important   as   those   made   by   the   translator.   Crucially,   however,  these  categories  of  collision,  hybridization,  and  acculturation  oper-­‐‑ ate  in  the  production  process  to  degrees  of  intensity  that  are  different  from   those  in  the  translation  one.  Their  cumulative  effect  is  greater.  Moreover,  the   infinite   variety   of   production   possibilities   often   entails   an   overlapping   of   these  three  categories.       With   collision,   there   is   a   deliberate   attempt   to   allow   the   awareness   of   translation  to  remain  uppermost,  to  allow  the  two  cultures,  the  source  and  the   host,   each   to   enact   their   differences.1   This   approach   is   likely   to   be   the   least   frequent   of   the   three   identified.   It   entails   close   knowledge   of   the   source   culture;  it  entails  careful  research;  it  entails  an  emphasis  on  recognizing  the   value  and  significance  of  difference,  and  it  entails  the  fostering  of  a  sense  of   alienation.  All  these  aspects  are  not  easily  attainable  and,  in  fact,  may  be  off-­‐‑ putting  to  an  audience.  And  the  audience  is  all-­‐‑important  not  only  as  the  final   arbiter  of  the  production’s  quality  but  also  as  the  source  of  crucial  revenue.  At   its  best,  the  collision  approach  respects  an  “ethics  of  difference”  (as  Lawrence   Venuti   defines   it2 )   in   that   attention   is   paid   to   both   sides   of   the   cultural   di-­‐‑ vide.3  The  purpose  is  not  solely  to  validate  the  existing  canon,  nor  to  domesti-­‐‑ cate   the   foreign   product.   Regrettably,   perhaps,   the   resulting   performance   is   usually  skewed  to  one  or  the  other  of  the  participating  cultures,  depending  on   the   production   agenda.   As   an   example   of...


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