Spanish and Spanish American Theatres in Translation: A Virtual Environment for Research and Practice

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Spanish and SpanishAmerican Studies


This project seeks to provide the English-speaking theatre professional - critic, theatre historian and practitioner - with access to the largely untapped riches of Spanish-language theatre. The 'virtual theatre environment' created as a result of the research undertaken will concentrate, initially anyway, on three key areas and moments of theatrical development in the Hispanic world: the Spanish Golden Age (late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), the twentieth century in Spain and the twentieth century in Spanish America.

There has been evidence of increased interest in Spanish-language theatre amongst English-speaking theatre practitioners in recent years (most notably, the Royal Shakespeare Company's award-winning Golden-Age season of 2004-05), but a lack of information about the plays that lie outside the small canon has impeded further discoveries and productions. By accessing this new and unique web-resource users will have at their disposal rigorously investigated and carefully contextualized information which will enable the production and further dissemination of theatre writing, research and practice. More specifically, the present canon of about a dozen plays originally written in Spanish will be greatly enlarged (by, in the first instance, about 100 plays in each of the three areas). The information provided about each individual play on a dedicated database will include: a synopsis of the work; a sample translation; production notes; performance history (with visual material where available); and critical responses (including reviews of performances and web-links). This material will enable the user to reach an informed decision as to the dramatic value and cultural 'usefulness' of any particular play. The investigators at King's College, London, Queen's University Belfast and the University of Oxford, working with their research assistants, will be responsible for the creation and maintenance of these electronic resources.

However necessary they may be at the present time, the creation of excellent electronic resources for the further study and appreciation of Spanish-language theatre is only the first objective of this project. The second type of research that it will involve is more practical and applied in nature, and some of it will involve links with the project's partners in the world of the theatre in Britain and Ireland. Issues that arise from the translation and performance of Spanish drama in English will be investigated through conferences, workshops on plays featured on the database, and rehearsed readings of them, as well as full productions. These fora will be exploited to ask a series of questions - many of them topical - of great cultural interest: what happens to these plays when they are translated from Spanish to English?; what are the implications of certain types of translation practice?; how do plays written originally for Spanish or Spanish American audiences survive the demands of being performed on an 'alien' stage?; how might the imported plays influence the theatrical culture, and even the English-speaking world into which they are introduced?

Broadly then, the project engages with two of the most important areas of cultural practice - translation and performance - in an attempt to investigate the ways in which meaning is re-created and negotiated. This involves creating new material for analysis and also throwing fresh light on some polemical issues such as the role of the 'literal' translation in arriving at a final version, and the nature of the cultural artefact created through performance on the foreign stage. The investigations carried out during the life of this project foster and depend upon cooperation and collaboration between theatre practitioners and academics on a scale rarely if ever seen in the past. As a whole the project will underpin a sustained and profound engagement with Spanish-language theatre that has not been possible until now.


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Title Out of the Wings Play Readings 2016 
Description Showcase of plays translated by the Out of the Wings group at King's College London. Five plays buy five female dramatists from five countries - Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, Peru 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Development of audience for Spanish and Portuguese Language theatre. Development of collective of c. 50 researchers, translators, actors and directors. 
Description The award has demonstrated the cultural, creative and intellectual value of translating Spanish and Spanish American theatre for English-speaking audiences. The work we have done shows that the interventions made in our own society by dramatic forms, ways of seeing and thematic preoccupations have validity and reach on the English-language stage, for both practitioners and audiences.
Exploitation Route The work of the project team continues through our engagement and collaboration with researchers, translators and theatre practitioners, including literary and artistic directors. It has had an international reach and we continue to advise regularly, including on 'exporting' our project to other languages.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Our findings have been used by theatre companies, radio, schools and pubishers.
First Year Of Impact 2004
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
Impact Types Cultural

Description Chatter Bags 
Organisation Chatter Bags Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Language Acts and Worldmaking is currently developing ideas for collaboration with Chatter Bags. The project team will be working with Chatter Bags to develop possibilities to encompass their design concept into events and outputs from the project. The project will bring with it new ideas for possible entry points for social interaction and the sharing of experiences, drawn from the research work and activities of each research strand.
Collaborator Contribution Chatter Bags brings a new and adaptive social and communication tool to the project, as well as experience in different ways that new connections between individuals can be catalysed. Chatter Bags bring expertise in social marketing and engagement, as well as a commitment to the shared aims of both projects.
Impact No outputs or outcomes to date.
Start Year 2017
Description Spanish Theatre Company 
Organisation Gazebo Theatre Company
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Out of the Wings knowledge and expertise called on to develop the corpus of plays used by the Spanish Theatre Company.
Collaborator Contribution Catherine Boyle was a member of the Board of Trustees, 2014 - 16. David Johnston translated the play La tortuga de Darwin / Darwin's Tortoise for a season February - March 2017.
Impact Performance of Darwin's Tortoise, by Juan Mayorga, Ferbruary - March 2017
Start Year 2017
Description Translation for Performance Workshop 
Organisation Theatre Royal York
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Workshops on translations related to the AHRC grant with a view to full production: El loco y la triste / Mad Man Sad Woman, by Juan Radrigan.
Collaborator Contribution Translation, workshop, methodological input.
Impact Reading of the play in translation in February 2014 at the Chilean Embassy
Start Year 2014
Description Translation for Performance Worskhop 
Organisation Kids company
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Worskhop on new translation with young adults from the Urban Academy.
Collaborator Contribution Workshops that develop a play in translation and offer instruction in drama, translation and language to young people.
Impact In progress, so no outputs or outcomes as yet.
Start Year 2014