[Foreign Affairs] – Theatre that knows no borders!

‘I cannot stress enough the importance of even closer collaboration with theatre practitioners in Europe and beyond, of breaking out of our comfort zones and embracing practices, languages, and cultures that may seem very distant from our own. Translating, for the stage in particular, is not merely moving words from one language to the other, it is also vital to translate culture, to carry it across, where possible, and if not, to find ways of making it relevant in its new language, on its new stage, to supply it with context and an understanding of the culture that it originated in.’

– Paul Russell Garrett, Programme Director
Words Without Borders December 2016

From page to stage

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), The Helmer Project (2015) – A Doll’s House performed in repertory with award-winning Danish playwright Jakob Weis’ modern ‘sequel’ Helmer Hardcore and Professor Bernhardi (2015) by Arthur Schnitzler in collaboration with AHRC-funded Schnitzler Digital Edition Project.

Our approach

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 opportunities.

[Foreign Affairs] Translates!

Applications open Tuesday 10 April.

Discover more

What a thrill to hear and see in real life (well, on the stage) a scene that Francisca and I had been agonising over on paper and debating in itty bitty detail. I was struck by how much suspense remained in the dialogue – never mind that I knew the text inside out! The [Foreign Affairs] actors performed the piece superbly, the timing seemed just right and the irony came across perfectly. ‘In the Park’ is a one-act play from a trilogy by Ilya Chlaki. Fingers crossed that Francisca and I will be able to translate the rest one day!

Ruth Ahmedzai KempGerman, Russian & Arabic

Co-translating Ibsen for [Foreign Affairs] was a wonderful experience, not least because the process didn’t end with us – discussing the text with directors, seeing the actors work with it and ultimately hearing the thoughts of audience members all contributed to a much more profound experience of the play than I could ever have hoped to have alone. The whole process was wonderfully collaborative, and I was pleasantly surprised by how liberating it was to be part of a group effort.

Siân MackieNorwegian

Not only did I gain a better understanding of stagecraft through my collaborations with [Foreign Affairs], I started hearing voices in my head. Which is a good thing, honestly! I was able to draw upon the diverse hive mind of their ensemble, allowing me to look at my translation and the original text in a new light. [Foreign Affairs] also gave me an appreciation for the power theatre can have on people.

Paul Russell GarrettDanish & Norwegian

Become a friend

Support our translation programme – sign up to our Membership Plus scheme for a unique opportunity to follow the journey of the text and get insight into our ‘page to stage’ process.

Join now