Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of The Mercurian!
We open the issue with Ieva Lākute’s translation of Latvian playwright Justīne Kļava’s play Ladies. With humor and pathos Ladies depicts the lives of three generations of women in the same family as they try to make sense of their lives in a decrepit district of Riga.
Ladies is followed by Linda Howe’s translation of Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera’s play The Serfs. Long time readers of The Mercurian will recall that we last published translations of Piñera’s work in Vol. 2, No. 4 (Fall 2009) with Kate Eaton’s translations of Piñera’s three one-act plays: You Always Forget Something (1963), False Alarm (1948), and The Thin Man and The Fat Man (1959). Piñera first published The Serfs in the Cuban journal Ciclón in 1955. A biting satirical attach on hierarchical abuses of power, the play, written in response to Stalin’s totalitarian Russia, became suspect in Cuba after Fidel Castro’s conversion to Communism in 1961. Reading the tea leaves, Piñera excluded The Serfs from his published Complete Works (1960-1961). After the 1959 Revolution, the play was not staged until 1999 and not published again until 2002 in Cuba. It was anathema to the early Cuban Revolution’s own Stalinist stance.
After The Serfs comes Sandra Kingery’s translation of Spanish playwright Pablo Remón’s play The Treatment. The Treatment premiered in Spain in 2018. This funny, touching play depicts a screenwriter whose film about his grandfather’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War becomes something much different from what he intended. Remón won Spain’s National Prize for Dramatic Literature in 2021.
Following The Treatment is Phyllis Zatlin’s translation of another play from Spain, Gracia Morales’ Unidentified NN 12. Zatlin’s translation work last appeared in The Mercurian with her translation of Amaranta Osorio and Itziar Pascual’s Little Girl My Little Girl in Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring 2021). Her translations of both French and Spanish playwrights can also be found in the Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2007), Vol. 2, No. 3 (Spring 2009), and Vol. 5, No. 3 (Spring 2015) editions of the journal. Unidentified NN 12 is a powerful play that, As Zatlin describes in her introduction, deals with Spain’s own history of violence and civil war but could just as easily resonate with the histories of multiple countries from Argentina to Rwanda to the Ukraine where war or authoritarian regimes have caused people to become “disappeared”.
The issue concludes with a collaborative review by Lindsay Webster and Jane Barnette of Jacqueline Goldfinger and Allison Horsley’s collaboratively written book Writing Adaptations and Translations for the Stage. Horsley’s article on “Translation for Performance: Another Chekhov Play?”, as well as her work on Libby Appel’s translation of three of Chekhov’s major plays can be found in Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring 2009), Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall 2010), Vol. 3, No. 3 (Spring 2011), and Vol. 3, No. 4 (Fall 2011).
Back issues of The Mercurian can be found at under the “Archives” tab on our website: https://the-mercurian.com/. As the theatre is nothing without its audience, The Mercurian welcomes your comments, questions, complaints, and critiques. Deadline for submissions for consideration for Volume 9, No. 4 (Fall 2023) will be September 15, 2023.