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Translating Theatre: 'Foreignisation' on Stage


translation foreignization theatre theatre & performance studies adaptation translation theory cultural translation performance dramaturgy


Dear friends and colleagues, 

We are inviting proposals for 20-minute papers, provocations or other forms of intervention as part of the one-day symposium ‘Translating Theatre: “Foreignisation” on Stage’ at Europe House, London, on Friday 21st October 2016.

The symposium is part of the AHRC-funded Leadership Fellowship project ‘Translation, Adaptation, Otherness: “Foreignisation” in Theatre Practice’, headed by Dr Margherita Laera at the University of Kent. The symposium closes the project’s first research cycle, which consists of a series of a translations, practice-as-research workshops and public rehearsed readings at the Gate Theatre, London, in June and July 2016 (please see for more information, and to sign up to our newsletter).

The project aims to engage scholars, students, audiences and professionals in a wider debate on the ethics and practice of translation for the stage, and wishes to set a new agenda for the scholarly field of theatre translation by adopting practice as research and ethnography as key methodological approaches. For the symposium, the project is opening its doors to the international scholarly and theatre-making communities to further the debate in our discipline about the ethical responsibilities of translation in contemporary theatre cultures within and beyond the UK. 

In particular, the project takes its cue from translation scholar Lawrence Venuti’s notion of ‘foreignisation’, as opposed to ‘domestication’ (see in particular Venuti’s three monographs: 1995; 1998; 2013), to explore the politics and ideology of theatre translation and adaptation. According to Venuti, ‘domestication’ – a process by which something ‘foreign’ is forcibly turned into something ‘familiar’ – is always already at play in translation, and therefore a more progressive ethical approach to translation should counteract the detrimental effects caused by unavoidable levels of ‘domestication’, seen as ‘obliteration of difference’ and even ‘cultural colonisation’.

‘Foreignisation’ therefore aims to inscribe acts of resistance in the target context through rejecting ‘fluency’, ‘naturalness’ or ‘familiarity’ as translation imperatives, unleashing the translator’s creativity and revolutionary ‘unfaithfulness’. Through practice as research, Dr Laera and her collaborators will be reassessing Venuti’s theories for a theatrical context, asking what ‘foreignisation’ might mean for the stage, how it may be possible to achieve it, textually and in performance, and how audiences respond to it. The project also involves carrying out participant observation during the three one-week practice-as-research rehearsal processes, and the symposium will be a chance to present some preliminary findings to our colleagues working on similar terrain.

Prof. Sirrku Aaltonen (Vaasa) will be our keynote speaker, and other guest speakers will include Prof. Carole-Anne Upton (Middlesex), Prof. Maria Delgado (RCSSD), and Prof. Catherine Boyle (King’s College London).

We welcome papers and interventions on themes including, but not limited to:

  • Studying theatre translation: practices and methodologies
  • The translator as dramaturg
  • Experiments with ‘foreignisation’ in theatre
  • ‘Foreignising’ mise en scène and adaptations
  • Alternative theatre translation strategies as forms of resistance
  • Effects of ‘foreignising’ approaches in theatre translation and adaptation
  • Effects of translation on performance and mise en scène
  • Theatre translation and its audiences 
  • Theatre translation and the staging of otherness
  • Theatre translation in the rehearsal room
  • Theatre translation and actors/performers
  • Theatre translation strategies from ‘minor’ to ‘major’ and vice versa
  • Cultures of translation across Europe and beyond  

Please send a 300-word abstract and a 150-word bio to Dr Margherita Laera ( and to Dr Flora Pitrolo ( by July 10th, 2016. We will notify participants by July 30th, 2016. 

Thank you and we hope to see you there.