We begin this issue with Daniel Smith and Valentina Denzel’s adaptation and translation of the eighteenth century Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi’s The Serpent Lady. Gozzi’s delightful fairy-tale comedy rests dramaturgically upon its improvisatory, commedia dell’ arte structure. This structure, since it depends upon theatrical production for its creation, is easy to lose in translation if the translator is thinking only about the text as dramatic literature. Co-translator and director Daniel Smith [whose translation of Marivaux’s Love in Disguise appeared in The Mercurian, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring 2012)], and co-translator Valentina Denzel, avoid this pitfall by consciously approaching their work thinking in terms of theatrical production from the beginning. Smith’s introduction to The Serpent Lady elaborates further upon this potential model for the theatrical translation process.
The Serpent Lady is followed by Austrian playwright Bernard Studlar’s iPlay, translated by Henning Bochert [whose translation of Martin Heckmmanns’ A Man Walks Into the World appeared in The Mercurian, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Fall 2011)]. Studlar’s clever and poetically written play is a contemporary meditation upon the hold the past has over us and how that hold prevents us from facing (or even seeing) the future in front of us. Playfully structured, iPlay invites us to join in its game and, not unlike a twenty-first century commedia dell’ arte, improvise our own apps.
Next comes Quijóteres: The Ingenious Puppet Don Quijote de la Mancha based upon the novel El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, and written, translated and adapted by Jason Yancey [whose article “Directing Comedia in the Twenty-first Century: Translating Culture Through Performance” appeared in The Mercurian, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Spring 2008)]. Yancey’s funny puppet show adaptation of Cervantes’ masterpiece provides us with yet another model of theatrical translation and adaptation. In this case the author has greatly reduced Cervantes’ lengthy, irrepressible novel to a thirty-minute puppet show. Yet, by choosing the form and structure of the puppet show stage, Yancey retains a number of the Quijote’s most important elements: fantasy, performance, and fun.
The issue concludes with Spanish playwright Antonio Muñoz de Mesa’s Policy translated by Phyllis Zatlin. Zatlin’s translations of contemporary French and Spanish playwrights have peppered The Mercurian since its inception [Jean Bouchaud’s Is That How It Was?, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2007); Carlos Semprun-Maura’s Brandy Blues, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Spring 2009); Francisco Nieva’s It’s Not True, Vol.3, No. 3 (Spring 2011)]. Here she gives us her translation of Muñoz de Mesa’s treatment of the sexual abuse scandals that continue to rock the Catholic Church across the world. Shortly before the publication of this issue Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Pope Francis’ designated spokesman on matters of sexual abuse stated that the Catholic Church’s failure to punish bishops who protect pedophiles has seriously harmed its credibility. The Church, he continued, must now lead by “humbly making the commitment to accountability, transparency and zero tolerance.” In its own way, Muñoz de Mesa’s play investigates the difficulties involved in reaching that goal.
Back issues of The Mercurian can be found at: http://drama.unc.edu/related-links/the-mercurian/ or Index. As the theatre is nothing without its audience, The Mercurian welcomes your comments, questions, complaints, and critiques. Deadline for submissions for consideration for Volume 5, No. 4 (Fall 2015) will be August 1, 2015.
Neil Blackadder, Knox College
Catherine Coray, hotINK at the LARK/New York University
Richard Davis, George Mason University/Theater of the First Amendment
Jean Graham-Jones, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York
David Johnston, Queen’s University, Belfast, N. Ireland
Kirsten Nigro, The University of Texas-El Paso
Caridad Svich, Playwright/Translator
Paul Walsh, Yale School of Drama