Translation Centre Stage: Japanese Drama

‘Of all translators, theatre translators should not be locked away in a room translating for days on end without seeing another living soul […], but I believe they should be invited to participate, to investigate, to collaborate with theatres, working alongside theatre practitioners and actors.’

– Paul Russell Garrett, Programme Director, Words without Borders, 2016

London-based international theatre company [Foreign Affairs] will discuss the ins and outs of translating for the stage with a special focus on Japanese drama and present their ground-breaking theatre in translation programme: [Foreign Affairs] Translates! and share the results and impact of working with Nozomi Abe on her translation of 天守物語 (Tenshu Monogatari) by 泉鏡花 Izumi Kyoka (1873-1939) as part of the programme.

This will be followed by a practical session giving participants a taste of what translating for the stage entails, with participants invited to navigate the practicalities of their craft in a collaborative translation session.

The practical session will include,

  • Theatre-based approaches to text
  • Collaborative translation
  • Work with professional theatre practitioners

The workshop is open to translators and students of translation and/or the Japanese language as well as to theatre practitioners with a knowledge of and/or interest in Japanese language and culture who are seeking innovative and collaborative approaches to translating text and subsequently bringing them onto the stage.

This FREE workshop is supported by the Sasakawa Foundation and hosted by SOAS Centre for Translation Studies.


Thur 22 Feb 2018, 19:30 – 21:00

SOAS Brunei Gallery 204



Theatre that knows no borders!

For us, making theatre that knows no borders means looking beyond the English language and outside our own experience. Wanting to bring these human experiences to our local audiences means that translation is at the centre of what we do. We bring the worlds of theatre and translation closer together by offering translators a unique programme which immerses them in both theatre practice and translation. This supports and expands their working practice and in turn brings more world drama into the English-speaking world and beyond.

Since 2010 we have presented 14 new English language translations, 7 of which were UK and world premieres. Many of these we commissioned and with each we worked directly with the translators.

Productions of new translations include: the UK and world premiere of multi-award-winning playwright and poet Andras Visky’s The Unburied. The Saint of Darkness (2017), funded by the Arts Council England and the Romanian Cultural Institute; The Helmer Project (2015) – A Doll’s House performed in repertory with award-winning Danish playwright Jakob Weis’ modern ‘sequel’ Helmer Hardcore, supported by the Danish Arts Foundation, the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in London and Danske Dramatikere.

From page to stage

Over the years we have developed a creative process that recognises and encourages the translators’ work and enhances opportunities for them to play an active part in the creative process, acting as dramaturgs, offering literary, cultural and artistic insight before, during, and even after the creation of the piece.

This collaborative approach has proven to strengthen communications and relationships with playwrights in particular, with the translator often assuming an invaluable link between not only the source and target language but also between the playwright and director, opening up further artistic and partnership opportunities.


Nozomi Abe is an academic, theatre translator and playwright based in Britain. She has recently completed her PhD in Literary Translation at University of East Anglia with her thesis titled ‘Translationese Revisited – A Heightened Theatrical Language for English-Language Theatre’, which is a continuation of research she conducted during her MFA in Creative Writing at QMUC and MSc in Translation Studies at University of Edinburgh. Her theatre translation includes: Mary Stuart in a version by Peter Oswald (New National Theatre, Tokyo), As You Desire Me (Come tu mi vuoi) by Pirandello, adapted by Hugh Whitemore (Theatre X, Tokyo), and Great Expectations adapted for the stage by Jo Clifford (Theatre Sunmall, Tokyo).

William Gregory trained in acting in the UK and Spain and began translating plays in 2003. His recent translations include B by Guillermo Calderón (Chile) at the Royal Court; Villa, also by Calderón, at the Play Company, New York, and Goya by Rodrigo García (Argentina) at the Old 505 Theatre, Sydney. He is a script advisor and consultant for the Royal Court’s many new-writing projects in Latin America and as co-curator of the London festivals Out of the Wings (Cervantes Theatre) and #GlobalQueerPlays (Arcola Theatre) festivals he has helped bring the works of some of the world’s leading and most exciting new playwrights to the UK for the first time.

Trine Garrett is Co-Artistic Director of [Foreign Affairs]. Recent director credits include the UK and world premiere of The Unburied. The Saint of Darkness by acclaimed playwright and poet Andras Visky; the English world premiere of Helmer Hardcore by award-winning Danish playwright Jakob Weis and an adaptation of Professor Bernhardi by Arthur Schnitzler in collaboration with academics of the Schnitzler Digital Edition Project.

Trine teaches the Meisner Technique in London (including ALRA, ArtsEd and The Impulse Company) and beyond, most recently in Copenhagen, Bucharest and Paris. She is one of the first teachers trained and approved by Niki Flacks to teach her groundbreaking technique, Acting with Passion.

Foreign Affairs
Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
N1 5SQ