A Web Archive of Theatre Translation Resources

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of Arts

Abstract

This project will address the issue of under-representation of cultural difference in the British secondary school Drama curriculum by creating an open-access educational website of video resources to engage secondary school children with foreign-language plays. By targeting young Drama students and their teachers we will train future theatre-makers and audiences to appreciate stories from diverse contexts and empathise with culturally distant others.

About 22% of the UK population in 2015 was either born abroad or a foreign citizen, however only about 3.8% of plays in British theatres every year are originally written in a language other than English and the British secondary school Drama curriculum does little to include non-English/non-British material for students to engage with linguistic and cultural diversity through theatre. This alarming representation gap must be addressed and supporting teachers in choosing plays in translation would be an effective way to change the status quo. Reducing the representation gap between curriculum requirements, students' cultural backgrounds and availability of teaching resources is even more pressing when we think about international/British schools overseas offering CGSEs, A-Levels, BTEC and IB qualifications in Drama to a multicultural, multilingual and multiracial student body.

From my extensive consultation period with over twenty teachers working in the UK and overseas, I have concluded that there is a clear intellectual and academic gap, and an urgent ethical call, to expand education resources in this area to foster dialogue on cultural and linguistic difference in English-speaking schools offering Drama both as an assessed subject and/or as an enrichment activity.

The project builds on the research and expertise acquired through my award-winning AHRC Leadership Fellowship - entitled 'Translation, Adaptation, Otherness: "Foreignisation" in Theatre Practice' - focusing on the representation of cultural and linguistic difference in theatre translation. Investigating the reasons behind the disappointing number of translations in British theatre repertoires, the PI identified secondary school Drama education as a potential area of impact to foster more engagement with, and representation of, cultural and linguistic difference on English-speaking stages in the future.

Increasing representation of non-English languages and culture on English-speaking stages is of paramount importance to foster understanding among communities in multicultural societies, such as the UK, but also in the US, where translations of foreign-language texts tend to be rare and immigration high.

Included in the website will be newly commissioned filmed extracts of five plays in the original language and two English translations, in order to highlight how translation strategies can have an impact on the production. The videos will be entirely new and curated for the project, featuring a professional cast. We will also produce and include on the website: film interviews with key practitioners working in the field; extensive contextualisations of the plays by academics and theatre-makers; and teaching resources clarifying how to integrate the resource into the GCSE, A-Level, BTEC and IB curricula.

Collaborating with far-reaching theatre organisations such as the Gate, London, which has been keen a champion of theatre translation, and the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury, a venue which focuses on young people, the project will create accessible educational resources for pupils to engage with foreign-language plays i as investigated in the PI's Fellowship project. The Project's Advisory Board includes five Heads of Drama working in secondary schools in England and theatre managers from the Gate, the Gulbenkian and the Royal Court Theatre. We will employ experienced academics and teachers to deliver the resources.

These resources will encourage long-term mind shifts and internationalisation.

Planned Impact

The project will have an impact on:

Students. Secondary school/college students of Drama will benefit from a resource enabling them to discuss and practice cultural difference in a positive way in the classroom. English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in particular will feel included in conversation and exercises that valorise their identity and knowledge. Encouraging young people to put themselves in the shoes of culturally distant others through staging plays together will bring a spirit of genuine multicultural exchange and empathy with others in classrooms. An enhanced understanding of the negotiations and politics involved in intercultural communication will bring about more interest in plays in translation, thus increasing the likelihood that students will embrace the values of internationalisation in their adult lives.

Teachers. Drama teachers, especially those teaching Drama for BTEC, GCSEs, A-Levels and IB qualifications in UK and international schools, will find our resources crucial to connect to and engage with a diverse student body generating discussions and live practice about linguistic and cultural diversity with students in a positive framework. The resources will integrate the teaching of plays in translation to the requirements of the national curriculum for the most common qualifications taught in British and international schools all over the world but will also be useful to approach plays in translation as an enrichment, extra-curricular activity. Our consultations show that English-speaking Drama teachers around the world desperately need this resource to close the current gap between curriculum, student body and available teaching resources.

Theatre professionals. Theatre-makers working in multicultural English-speaking societies will benefit from our resources highlighting the crucial issue of representation in the arts. We will have an impact on the cast involved in our project: fifteen actors and five directors will connect with foreign playwrights working outside Britain. We will promote the work of foreign playwrights by disseminating their work among an international audience of young people and by putting them in touch UK-based theatre-makers, thus increasing the chances of further professional collaborations. We will also have an impact on translators working on the project by highlighting and promoting their work to an international audience.

General public. Members of the general public with an interest in theatre and the arts will find our resources useful to explore the subject of representing different cultures and languages in English. The website will communicate the urgency, timeliness and topicality of theatre translation as an instrument for intercultural communication and understanding.

Dissemination. We will launch the project with a reception at the Gate Theatre where we will invite an audience of key players in Drama education. The Gulbenkian Theatre and the Gate Theatre will include news items about the resource in their marketing emails and press material. We will hire a dedicated marketing person promoting the project in the UK and abroad for three intensive weeks following the launch, using social media, email flyers, direct calls to relevant organisations, contacts with teachers, journalists, bloggers and university lecturers. Teachers in our Advisory Board and in our partner school, Wootton Upper School, will utilise the resources in their institutions and promote them through word of mouth. After the initial three weeks, the PI will continue to promote the resources on social media and through the University of Kent's Partnership Development Office and the School of Arts' dedicated Impact Officer.

Measuring impact. We will measure our impact through an anonymous feedback survey for users via the website. We will also carry out a series of interviews with teachers, students and theatre-makers on their use of our resources.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title A website of educational resources highlighting 20 contemporary international plays 
Description We have created a website of educational resources highlighting 20 contemporary international plays to encourage more secondary-school teachers and students to engage with plays from around the world. This website is our main output for this award. It consists of an open-access platform which spotlights contemporary plays from 6 continents, written in 16 original languages and already published in English. We have commissioned, edited and produced a series of teaching and learning resources that contextualise the plays for teachers and students. Resources include: filmed video extracts of plays in the original language and two different English translations; essays; interviews with creative teams; translators' notes; synopses and education packs featuring bespoke practical activities and discussion points for young people. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact We are putting the finishing touches on the website and have not published it yet, so no impact yet. 
URL http://www.performinginternationalplays.com
 
Description The main achievement of this award has been the creation of specialist Drama education resources for teachers and students wishing to explore international plays. The website, www.performinginternationalplays.com, showcases a selection of 20 contemporary plays from 6 continents, written in 16 languages. It enriches these published plays with education packs including: academic essays, character lists, synopses, interviews, suggested classroom activities and discussion points, video extracts of play scenes in three different versions, including one on the original language, and two different English translations/adaptations.
Exploitation Route The main aim of the website is that it be used and appropriated freely by teachers and learners, and put to the service of each class' needs. We have been in conversations with several teacher who have been using the resource in ways that we hadn't anticipated. We are exploring the option of offering workshops for teachers to familiarise themselves with our resources, in order to give them ideas on how to use the website and make the most of it in their teaching.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description This was a Public Engagement and Impact project specifically aimed at creating non-academic knowledge exchange and impact. The website of learning and teaching resources we created has filled a gap in the market which prevented many Drama teachers from including contemporary international plays from being taught in British classrooms. This was because contemporary international plays are usually not published with satisfactory contextualisations, or not published at all, leading to a gap in knowledge and a difficulty in teaching pupils about them. Our website has created accessible, user friendly resources that empower teachers to use these plays in classrooms, hence diversifying their curriculum and improving inclusion and representation of cultural difference. Drama Teachers in British classrooms have been using our resources with students who have directly benefited from the breadth of our cultural offer, gaining intercultural competences and knowledge.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description The Performing International Plays website is currently being used in British classrooms to explore international Drama. This is evidenced by the feedback we have received from teachers who have used it, and by the clicks on the website, which average at 150 per day. We are in the process of gathering teacher testimonies and we will be in a position to quote from these next year.
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or Improved professional practice
 
Description Knowledge Exchange Development Fund
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Kent 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 07/2022
 
Description Conference/Workshop for Drama and Language Teachers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This free event for secondary-school teachers took place at King's College London in October 2019 and brought together international educators who work in the crossover area between Drama and Modern Languages. We ran workshops and talks about how the two disciplines can learn and benefit from one another. We facilitated a debate in which we discussed how both disciplines can facilitate learning environments where more young people can practice the values of inclusion and intercultural dialogue. We also promoted the activities of the project, A Web Archive of Theatre Translation Resources, established links with teachers who might use our resources and requested their feedback on our initial plans. Guest speakers included teachers, actor trainers, academics and performers. An audience of 50 attended the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019