Translaboration in the Rehearsal Room: Translanguaging as Collaborative Responsibility in Bilingual Devised Theatre

Kerstin Pfeiffer, Michael Richardson, Svenja Wurm

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This article explores the role of translaboration in an area where collaborative translation and co-creative processes intertwine: a bilingual devised theatre rehearsal room. Scholarship has tended to focus on translated plays as cultural products, and on the difficulty associated with creating a bilingual theatrical product that is accessible to a unilingual audience. Here however, our focus is translation within the creative process. We use two bilingual projects as examples of practice. Each project brought together participants from two cultural backgrounds: in one case German and Czech young people; in the other, deaf and hearing people from the UK. Possessing varying bilingual competencies, these participants employed a number of translation strategies and communication choices to ensure the collaborative creation of new, bilingual theatrical material. Their diversity of communicative practice can be regarded as translanguaging, a fluid, non-hierarchical practice that challenges the notion of uni-directional translation from a source text. We argue that in this setting, translanguaging is the practice that enables translaboration. Furthermore, this practice is compromised by the imposition of top-down structures that inhibit the organic development of democratic and potentially transformative practices. Such transformativity is dependent on collaboration in both devising and translation, collaborative creation and translaboration, and the two are mutually interdependent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-379
Number of pages22
JournalTarget - International Journal of Translation Studies
Issue number2
Early online date21 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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