“Peter Pan on Crack” or How to Sound on Stage: An Exploration of Speakability and Performability in Theatre Translation
Velden, L. van der
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This thesis aims to provide an insight into the terms ‘speakability’ and ‘performability’. The terms seem to be keywords in the literature on the translation of theatre. However, they are hardly ever clearly defined. It can therefore be confusing for the (future) theatre translator to understand why these terms are important and how they can be used as workable concepts during the process of theatre translation. It is demonstrated that there is a clear divide within the academic world on translation strategies within the field. The term ‘performability’ is central to this debate, and seems to be used as a way to denote that strategies of domestication are more acceptable in the translation of theatre than they generally are in the translation of other literature. Some preliminary conclusions show that ‘performability’ can be seen as all strategies used by the translator that make a play work on stage, a process in which the literature on general literary translation can be useful. The difference with other literary forms is that the main strategy is generally aimed at domestication. The term ‘speakability’ is that one thing that is specific about theatre translation, namely the spoken language and how this can recaptured in the translation. The best way to test speakability is to have the pre-final text tested in some kind of (simulated) performative environment. All of these results are then tested on a case study, which consists of translating scenes from Polly Stenham’s play No Quarter.