Journal of Romance studies

‘Acomode los versos con prudencia…’: polymetric verse on stage in translation

Journal of Romance studies (2008), 8, (3), 3–21.

Abstract

The polymetry of Spanish Golden Age drama can be translated in English-language productions even when the translators do not render their versions into verse. The function of the sound and structure indicated by the metrical shifts of the original plays were apparent in the four Spanish Golden Age plays produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2004–5. The ensemble as a whole contributed to this: at points of metrical or rhyme change in the original plays, the translators, not all of whom used verse, often matched shifts of discourse or retained structural patterning in the texts; the directors employed rhythm, music and choices for line delivery; and the scenic and lighting designers altered the look and feel of the productions at key moments of the originals’ verse change. In this article, I use my experience working with the Royal Shakespeare Company to show how Hispanists, armed with the tools of comedia polymetry, can work directly with theatrical companies in making informed, richly textured theatre by highlighting the function of verse in the originals when the Spanish comedia is translated, rehearsed and staged for English-speaking audiences.

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Jeffs, Kathleen