Frank Wynne

Frank Wynne Translator-in-residence - thumbnailFrank Wynne spent three weeks in March 2016 at the Department of European Languages and Cultures at Lancaster as translator-in-residence. As part of his stay, he worked alongside our MA students on the project of producing a new English translation of Jean Anouilh’s tragedy Antigone (1944).

The translation of a play, however, as Frank explained, never really stops at producing a text, and is never just a text; it is then shaped for a specific (series of) performance(s), in and for a specific context. A first draft has therefore been produced and invited a discussion, which happened on 13 May at the Campus in the City, with the participation of Frank Wynne, two of the MA students who collaborated on the translation, Demi Rabbette and Dafydd Jones, and Romain Bardot, Senior Teaching Associate in French at DELC. After the reading in French and English of some key passages from the text, Carlos Lopez-Galviz from the Institute for Social Futures and Prof. Alison Stone from Philosophy joined the table to talk about the past interpretations and the current and potential future relevance of Antigone’s story. Their reflections were followed by an open discussion with the audience, which culminated in thinking about possible applications of the play to contemporary contexts.

Daffydd Jones reflects on his experience from working on the translation to discussing it with a general audience:

It was a real privilege, indeed a great experience I might not have for a while again, to have worked with three other people from DELC and come together to translate Antigone. A great effort on the part of Romain Bardot to bring us all together and really kindly guide us in to translating the play. With guidance and expertise from translator Frank Wynne, whose original idea this project was, I know personally I’ve been able to expand how I see literary translation. His professional insight will certainly have benefited us all and dealing with the task of translation, for theatre particularly, he really stretched our brains for the better!

Given that the play has quite a few 1940s-style terms of endearment, these would be issues for our translation, since we were aiming at rendering the play in a modern and more ‘acultural’ English, in other words, a language that would not position the translation in one particular geographical location. This would help us when it came to potentially collaborating with others (from the theatre, for example) to set Antigone where (geographically and politically) we all think it would work.

When it came to reading and discussing the project at Campus in the City, we did get a glimpse of how the translation choices we had made could affect an audience – one or two audience members stated how they felt about a particular bit of translation and feedback helped to see how our translation of the characters was working. The experience of the reading itself was also enjoyable. It was fascinating to see how the play could be imagined from varying perspectives, indeed the public’s response in discussion made me think more about the characters and their issues and feelings and how they might be set in a particular time or against a particular political backdrop (at one point, discussion turned to politicians “rolling out toolkits for change”!) and this was all quite informative to the project as a whole.Antigone event

I feel this project has been really beneficial, giving us as translators a live scenario to apply ourselves within and the project may continue, we will have to wait and see. Hopefully we’ve avoided any tragedy in the technical with regards to the translation, though hopefully we’ve also ensured it can be found on the words on the page and indeed, the stage!

 

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