Quebec Studies

Some Thoughts about Theater Translation in Francophone and Anglophone Canada

Quebec Studies (2010), 50, (1), 113–126.

Abstract

113 Some Thoughts about Theater Translation in Francophone and Anglophone Canada Louise H. Forsyth University of Saskatchewan ... the idea that it is impossible to translate, but at the same time that it is intolerable not to translate Antoine Vitez But most of all, I would say, here's a writer, and I think of all writers as voices in the wilderness, people who are daring to stand up and try to name the very peculiar angst or joy of this decade, this century, this place. Linda Gaboriau Introduction Theater translation has been a significant and sustained cultural phenom­ enon in Quebec and Canada for more than half a century. Plays in transla­ tion have been fellow-travellers over these decades with the hundreds of fine, original plays that have been performed and published in both French and in English. Despite the large number of theater translations, however, they have not yet been studied with the same critical and theoretical thor­ oughness as has translation of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. The impact of translators' strategies is not widely appreciated; the effect on meaning production of the many bends in discursive channels through which theater translations pass as a result of interpretive imperatives remains relatively unexplored. Nor, for the most part, have theater translations found an en­ during place in either this country's theater histories or what is generally accepted as its canons. Instead, they seem to be seen as having been the oc­ casional, somewhat surprising blip on the evolving cultural landscape. It would be unwise to affirm that theater translations have been recognized as having had overarching influence on their target communities and audi­ ences in either direction in Canada. Louise Ladouceur is one of the first to have done an exhaustive study of theater translation in Canada. In Making the Scene. La Traduction du théâtre d'une langue officielle à l'autre au Canada she directed her attention at translations of plays for adult audiences having had a professional perfor­ mance and/or been published between 1950 and 2000. Ladouceur pro­ vides descriptive and comparative analyses of translations of the works of twelve of the most translated Canadian playwrights, six from each side of the official language divide. She also provides insight into the interplay be­ tween the body of translated works and this country's many sociopolitical and cultural systems. Her compilation of translations shows that Canada's theater translation corpus has not replicated with any particular fidelity the shape and content of the country's entire theater corpus, whether in French Québec Studies, Volume 50, Fall 2010/Winter 2011

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Forsyth, Louise