Margherita is an award-winning scholar specialising in translation and adaptation for the stage, and contemporary European performance, especially in Italy. She is also a professional arts journalist and theatre translator.
Margherita’s research interests include contemporary theatre in Europe, especially in Italy; adaptation and translation for the stage; ‘classical’ Greek tragedy and its modern appropriations; theatre criticism; theatre and ideology. Margherita studied Classics, Comparative Literature and Theatre/Performance Studies in Milan, Paris and London. Margherita is the Co-Director, with Prof. Paul Allain, of the European Theatre Research Network, a partnership of three universities committed to researching theatre and performance practices in modern and contemporary Europe.
Margherita has recently completed an AHRC Leadership Fellowship project called ‘Translation, Adaptation, Otherness: “Foreignisation” in Theatre Practice’ (2016–19). More information about this research can be found here: www.translatingtheatre.com. This project was awarded the Theatre and Performance Research Association’s Early Career Research Prize 2018 and the University of Kent’s Starting Research Prize 2018.
She is the author of Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019) and Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy (Peter Lang, 2013) and editor of Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (Methuen, 2014). Margherita also co-wrote and edited a tourist guide to London theatre entitled London: Brexit Stage Left (Cue Press, 2019) with Bojana Janković.
Margherita has contributed chapters on Italian theatre to prestigious edited volumes and authored journal articles for Contemporary Theatre Review, Modern Drama, Performance Research, TheatreForum and Critical Stages. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Peer Review College, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Margherita is the Online Editor for Johns Hopkins University Press’ Theatre Journal and Theatre Topics, which can be accessed here: www.jhuptheatre.org.
Margherita’s translations of plays have been performed and published in various contexts, including the prestigious Piccolo Teatro in Milan. She has translated texts by Jean-Luc Lagarce, Athol Fugard, Bola Agbaje, Peter Greenaway and Mohamed Kacimi from French and English into Italian, and plays by Francesca Garolla, Davide Carnevali and Stefano Massini from Italian into English.
Margherita is a member of the Italian Association of Journalists. She writes about arts and culture in a range of Italian magazines. She is a theatre critic for Italian theatre journals and websites including Hystrio, Ateatro.it and Krapp’s Last Post.
Current administrative roles
Deputy Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for the School of Arts
Margherita’s main research interests lie at the intersection of theatre and modern foreign languages, with a focus on theatre translation and adaptation; multilingual theatre; staging and teaching plays in translation; teaching languages through drama; intercultural theatre; reception of ancient Greek theatre.
Her publications have focused on the politics of contemporary theatre practice in Italy, Britain and continental Europe, with an emphasis on modern and contemporary experimental performance and playwriting. She is interested in the way theatre and performance produce, disseminate or resist ideological discourses and beliefs around community, identity and otherness.
Margherita is currently working on a research project entitled ‘Fabulamundi Workbook: Mapping Contemporary Playwriting and Theatre Translation Practices in Europe’, commissioned by the international, EU-sponsored project Fabulamundi – Playwriting Europe. She is also working on a public engagement project sponsored by the AHRC entitled ‘Performing International Plays’ to encourage more secondary-school teachers and students to approach contemporary plays in translation and from different cultural contexts. She recently collaborated with Prof. Peter Boenisch at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on a research project entitled ‘Performing Multilingualism for Monolingual Audiences: Creative Strategies and Practices in Contemporary European Theatre’ sponsored by the AHRC and Creative Multilingualism.
Margherita’s most recent book, Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019), is aimed at students and non-specialists, as well as theatre audiences, practitioners and scholars. It investigates the intersections between theatre and translation, asking how translation can support a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion in theatre. Looking at Indonesian puppetry traditions, actor training and devising exercises, translations of contemporary plays from French, Spanish and Palestinian Arabic, and the performance of Shakespeare in Mandarin, the book argues that both theatre and translation can illuminate key questions at the core of our multicultural societies, and that the two practices can teach us the skills we need to empathise with perspectives distant from our own. In this book, Margherita makes the case that we should all become familiar with the processes and significance of translation in today’s world.
Margherita is the editor of Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (Bloomsbury, 2014), in which she maintains that stage adaptations can act as powerful performance interventions in resisting dominant narratives. Featuring seventeen interviews with internationally renowned theatre and performance artists, the book provides first-hand accounts of a diverse array of approaches to stage adaptation, ranging from playwriting to directing, Javanese puppetry to British children's theatre, and feminist performance to Japanese Noh.
Her recent AHRC-sponsored research project, entitled ‘Translation, Adaptation, Otherness: “Foreignisation” in Theatre Practice’ was concerned with theatre translation from European languages into English. It explored how it might be possible to communicate linguistic and cultural difference through plays in translation. As part of this project, Margherita published an article for Modern Drama and three translations of plays from French, Spanish and Polish with Cue Press. More information on the project and its archive can be found on the project website and through the film documentary.
Margherita’s first book, Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy (Peter Lang, 2013), theorises the political and ideological implications of staging Greek tragedy on contemporary European theatre stages. Through case studies from around Europe and an engagement with the thinking of Jean-Luc Nancy, Roland Barthes and Salvatore Settis, the book develops a critique of the myth of Athens as the cradle of Western civilisation and the birthplace of both democracy and theatre.
Before joining the University of Kent, Margherita taught at several UK institutions, including Queen Mary, University of London; Kingston University London; and Middlesex University.
She taught at Queen Mary between 2008 and 2012, convening and tutoring on theoretical and practice-based undergraduate modules such as Theatre and Its Others; Adaptations; Dramaturgy and Translation; London, Culture, Performance; and Supporting Student Writing. At Kingston, she was a Visiting Lecturer on the first-year theoretical module Performing Theories. At Middlesex, Margherita taught fist- and second-year BA Translation Studies students, convening modules such as General Translation; Core Concepts for Translators; Specialised Translation; and Translation Principles and Strategies.
At Kent, she has convened the undergraduate modules Theatre & Journalism (DR548) and Theatre & Adaptation (DR685) and has been on the teaching team for Playwriting (DR619). She also convened the MA European Theatre and Dramaturgy (with an optional term in Paris), and all the core modules on this programme.
Margherita is involved in supervising research students on projects ranging from the plays of Ferenc Molnár; contemporary European directorial approaches to staging canonical plays; and the practice of Song of the Goat theatre company.
Margherita welcomes postgraduate enquiries for supervision in the following areas:
- Translation and Adaptation for the Stage
- Appropriations of Greek tragedy in Contemporary Theatre
- Contemporary Theatre, Performance and Playwriting in continental Europe
- Post-War and Contemporary Theatre, Performance and Playwriting in Italy
- Multilingualism on stage
- Theatre, Ideology and Identity
Margherita is currently supervising several PhD students on projects including: translating nineteenth-century Finnish drama into English; contemporary directorial approaches to canonical plays in Europe; actor training and the Greek tragic chorus; and actor training in the work Song of the Goat theatre company.
Laera, M. (2018). Performing Heteroglossia: The ’Translating Theatre’ Project in London. Modern Drama [Online] 61. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3138/md.s0917.
London is home to more than eight million people who speak more than three hundred languages, but the theatre scene in the British capital far from adequately represents this cultural richness and diversity. London theatre remains predominantly white, British, middle-class, and performed in the standard London dialect and accent combination. In the first part of this article I offer a contextualization and classification of types of heteroglossia available to London theatre-goers. In the second part, I describe my research project "Translation, Adaptation, Otherness: 'Foreignisation' in Theatre Practice". The aim of the project was to investigate new strategies in theatre translation that would enable us to disrupt audience expectation and challenge ethnocentrism. In this article, I assess the difficulties we encountered and the audience's response to our experiments. The project offered many timely opportunities to interrogate perceptions of "foreignness" among London-based theatre-makers, scholars, and spectators, immediately following the "Brexit" referendum vote.
Laera, M. (2015). On Killing Children: Greek Tragedies on British Stages in 2015. Critical Stages [Online]. Available at: http://www.critical-stages.org/12/on-killing-children-greek-tragedies-on-british-stages-in-2015/.
Contemporary theatres in Europe are currently awash with theatrical versions, adaptations and mise en scènes of ‘classical’ or ‘canonical’ works from antiquity and early modernity that are approached through the strategy of ‘actualisation’, that is, they are made to feel ‘actual’ or ‘current’ to the target audience through an act of updating of their cultural and temporal references. It is sufficient to examine a range of Greek tragedy adaptations staged in the UK in 2015 to detect this ongoing trend. Actualisation’s polar opposite, ‘reconstruction’, whereby a source is approached through a desire to see it staged ‘as it would have been staged when it was written’, has fallen out of fashion, and so have the myriad shades of grey in between actualisation and reconstruction. This paper briefly reflects on the significance of this contemporary 'obsession' with (hyper)actualisation. It asks why an active interest in stories from the past is matched by an equally forceful rejection of the cultural associations of that past. Using case studies such as Robert Icke's Oresteia (London, Almeida, 2015), I investigate the ideologically-determined strategies that attract us to the Greek 'classics', whilst at the same time removing their foreignness and alterity from our stages.
Laera, M. (2011). Reaching Athens: Performing Participation and Community in Rimini Protokoll’s Prometheus in Athens. Performance Research [Online] 16:46-51. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2011.606049.
Drawing on Jean-Luc Nancy’s thesis that “myth’s force and foundation are essential to community and there can be, therefore, no community outside of myth”, this paper examines the author’s experience as a theatre spectator in the Greek capital. After her inbound flight was cancelled due to a strike called by Greek workers on 15 July 2010, reaching Athens seemed impossible. Nonetheless, she eventually attended Rimini Protokoll’s Prometheus in Athens, an adaptation starring non-professional Athenian performers. The project opened weeks after the height of the Greek financial crisis, at a time when the ‘European community’, along with its ‘democratic’ principles, were threatened with collapse.
With the economic, social and political contingencies resonating in the Roman amphitheatre and the fully-lit Parthenon shining opposite the stage, Prometheus in Athens engineered mechanisms for audience participation within a self-defining and self-affirming community ritual. Working with a chorus of 103 Athenians (including legal and illegal immigrants), Haug and Wetzel played with the notions of social identity, democracy and representation. Appearing onstage as a group, the performers drew parallels between everyday life and Greek mythology and involved the spectators in the performance of identity. Rimini Protokoll’s playful dramaturgy encouraged the emergence of a temporary community of identifications by using ‘classical’ Greek tragedy as a contemporary Western myth of ‘origin’.
Using Nancy’s essays ‘Myth Interrupted’ and ‘Of Being Singular Plural’, this paper explores the ideas of community, participation and (trans)national identity as produced by this performance. Rimini Protokoll’s production ironically imagined contemporary Athens as a continuation of the half-mythical, half-historical city where theatre and democracy were ‘invented’, and where participatory citizenship could, allegedly, be fully experienced. Having finally reached Athens, the author found that the city of ‘democratic participation’ was no longer there, that it was always already somewhere else. “Has anyone ever reached Athens?”, the paper asks.
Laera, M. (2011). Theatre Translation as Collaboration: Aleks Sierz, Natalie Abrahami, Martin Crimp, Zoë Svendsen, Colin Teevan and J. Michael Walton discuss Translation for the Stage. Contemporary Theatre Review [Online] 21:213-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10486801.2011.561490.
This article is an edited version of a round-table discussion on theatre translation which took place at Queen Mary, University of London, on 20 March 2010. The event was part of the conference 'Theatre Translation as Collaboration: Re-Routing Text Through Performance', funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Chaired by Aleks Sierz, the panel included Natalie Abrahami, Zoë Svendsen, Colin Teevan and J. Michael Walton. The issues discussed, such as the notion of performability and the problems arising from intercultural negotiations and the translocation of a performance text from a source to a target context, are illustrated by examples of first-hand experience in translation for the stage.
Laera, M. (2010). Comedy, Tragedy, and ’Universal Structures’: Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio’s Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. TheatreForum:3-15.
Laera, M. (2009). Mark Ravenhill’s Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat: A Treasure Hunt in London. TheatreForum 35:3-9.
Laera, M. (2019). Theatre & Translation. [Online]. Red Globe Press / Macmillan. Available at: https://www.macmillanihe.com/page/detail/Theatre-and-Translation/?K=9781137611611.
This book in the Theatre And series explores theatre and translation’s interconnectedness in representing the stories of others. Laera argues that the two practices share fundamental ethical questions which lie at the core of our multicultural societies and can teach us to practice the skills we need to empathise with perspectives and world views distant from our own. Through a wide array of examples from different languages and cultures, Laera makes the case that we should all become more familiar with how translation works and aware of its importance in today’s world.
Inspiring and wide-ranging, this book offers a concise but academically rigorous introduction to a complex topic. It is ideal for students of theatre, translation and adaptation.
Laera, M. (2013). Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy. Peter Lang.
Why do revivals and adaptations of Greek tragedy still abound in twenty-first-century European national theatres, fringe stages and international festivals? Taking as its starting point Jean-Luc Nancy’s and Roland Barthes’ concepts of myth and Salvatore Settis’ notion of the ‘classical’, this book investigates discourses around community, democracy, origin and Western identity in stage adaptations of Greek tragedy on contemporary European stages. It addresses the ways in which the theatre produces and perpetuates the myth of ‘classical’ Greece as the origin of Europe and how this narrative raises issues concerning the possibility of a transnational European community. Each chapter explores a pivotal problem in modern appropriations of Greek tragedy, including the performance of the chorus, the concept of ‘obscene’ and the audience as the demos of democracy. Among others, contemporary versions of Women of Troy, Hippolytus and Persians performed in Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland and Greece are analysed through a series of comparative case studies. By engaging with the work of prominent contemporary theatre-makers such as Mark Ravenhill, Michel Vinaver, Katie Mitchell, Sarah Kane, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Romeo Castellucci, Calixto Bieito and Rimini Protokoll, this volume offers a critique of contemporary democratic Europe and the way it represents itself onstage.
Laera, M. (2020). Emma Dante and Fausto Paravidino: Families, National Identity, and International Audiences. In: Delgado, M., Lease, B. and Rebellato, D. eds. Contemporary European Playwrights. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Contemporary-European-Playwrights-1st-Edition/Delgado-Lease-Rebellato/p/book/9781138084223.
This chapter investigates the work of two Italian dramatists, actors and directors, Emma Dante and Fausto Paravidino. Since the early 2000s, when their careers began, Dante and Paravidino have both enjoyed considerable national and international acclaim, but the mode in which spectators have experienced their work abroad has been significantly different: while Paravidino’s plays have been translated into foreign languages and staged with local casts, Dante’s productions have toured untranslated, with their original Italian performers, mostly accompanied by surtitles. Both authors also routinely direct, and sometimes perform in, their own scripts, following that distinctively Italian tradition that has more often produced actor-authors than ‘pure’ playwrights. Paravidino is one of very few living Italian dramatists to be known in Britain, thanks to his work with London’s National and Royal Court Theatres. His plays have been seen throughout Europe and beyond and have been translated into twelve languages. Dante, on the other hand, has only rarely toured to the UK, but her theatre productions have travelled extensively to continental Europe, North and South America and Asia. In what follows, I assess some of their most significant plays and productions with a particular focus on how issues of translation, international touring and intercultural exchange have influenced their approach to theatre-making.
Laera, M. (2017). A Theatre Of/For Europe : Giorgio Strehler and the Dream of a United Continent. In: Finburgh, C., Boenisch, P. M. and Shepherd, S. eds. Great Stage Directors, Vol. 6: Littlewood, Planchon, Strehler. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. Available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-great-european-stage-directors-set-2-9781474254168/.
This essay examines the controversial legacy of the Italian theatre-maker Giorgio Strehler as a director, artistic director, ideologue and politician from the 1940s – when he founded the Piccolo Teatro in Milan – to his untimely death in 1997. The study will focus not so much on Strehler’s aesthetics but on his ideas and political engagement, his conception of theatre as a primary agent of social change, and his efforts to put into practice his dream of a unified Europe based not only on free markets and consumerism, but on what he called, not without a touch of essentialism, a ‘common humanity’ and shared cultural heritage. In this essay I reassess Strehler’s ‘humanist-socialist’ project for the future of the Old Continent, from the first phase (1940–1979) in which he enacted the ‘Europeanisation’ of Italian theatre, to the second phase (1980–1997) in which he aimed to ‘transnationalise’ the European theatre system through the direction of the Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris, the establishment of the Union des Théâtres de l’Europe, and his election as MEP in 1982.
It is ironic and somewhat uncomfortable to be researching Strehler’s dream of a United Europe today, but it is also particularly timely and important in the context of post-Brexit Britain. How can we read the EU referendum vote in the light of Strehler’s vision of the future of Europe as the first European Parliament was inaugurated in 1979? And what does Strehler’s legacy mean for Europeans today, as the EU project appears to have been taken over by ‘anti-humanist’ and ‘anti-socialist’ forces?
Laera, M. (2016). How to Get Your Hands Dirty: Old and New Models of ’Militant’ Theatre Criticism in Italy. In: Radosavljevic, D. ed. Theatre Criticism: Changing Landscapes. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, pp. 99-117.
In the autumn of 1966, prompted by the lethargic state of performing arts in Italy, a group of so-called ‘militant’ theatre scholars and critics gathered to write a manifesto entitled ‘Per un Nuovo Teatro’ (‘For a New Theatre’), which would also function as a call for participants to a conference in Ivrea, near Turin, the following summer. The Ivrea conference marked the beginning of a new era in Italian theatre practice and criticism, in that it inaugurated a burgeoning experimental scene (unimaginatively labelled ‘New Theatre’). Crucially, scholars and practitioners who gathered in Ivrea also took issue with the current model of theatre criticism, especially its complacency with bourgeois values and inability to challenge the status quo. While the predominant understanding of criticism at the time viewed the critic as an external, transcendental observer of theatre practice, the ‘militant’ paradigm advocated a much more engaged approach, whereby critics would ‘get their hands dirty’ by promoting anti-bourgeois ‘New Theatre’ over old repertoire, and become involved in theatre practice in order to influence its course.
It is evident that the ‘militant’, ‘get-your-hands-dirty’ understanding of the critic’s role poses a number of deontological problems, however its distinctively creative approach to the profession is still relevant today. This essay is concerned with the legacy that the ‘militant’ paradigm has had on new models of theatre criticism recently evolved in the internet era in Italy. In order to explore how contemporary Italian theatre critics regard and practice tactics inspired by the ‘militant’ approach of the 1960s and 70s, I spoke to critics Claudia Cannella (Corriere della Sera and Hystrio) and Andrea Porcheddu (Delteatro.it, Hystrio, Linkiesta.it) about conflicts of interest and professionalism. Throughout the essay, I report on the results of an internet survey I designed in collaboration with Prof. Oliviero Ponte di Pino of the Accademia di Brera to map out the state of the profession in Italy today. About 200 respondents answered some thirty-seven questions aimed at determining whether the recent de-professionalisation of theatre criticism marks a return towards the ‘militant’ paradigm.
Laera, M. (2015). 55 Entries on Italian Actors. In: Williams, S. ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Radosavljevic, D. (2014). Theatre as an Intellectual Concertina: Simon Stephens in Conversation with Duska Radosavljevic. In: Laera, M. ed. Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat. Methuen Bloomsbury, pp. 255-268.
Laera, M. (2014). ’Expert’ Dramaturgies: Helgard Haug of Remini Protokoll in Conversation with Margherita Laera. In: Laera, M. ed. Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, pp. 241-254.
Laera, M. (2013). Making Lear Dreaming. Singapore, Affects and Transnational Encounters: An Interview with Ong Keng Sen. In: From Identity to Mondialisation: TheatreWorks 25. Singapore: Didier Millet.
Conference or workshop item
Laera, M. (2016). A Theatre of/for Europe: Giorgio Strehler and the Dream of a United Continent. In: Quorum.
Laera, M. (2016). Rethinking ’Foreignisation’ Through Practice as Research. In: European Theatre Perspectives: Exploring Channels for Cross-Cultural Engagement in Performance.
Laera, M. (2016). Dealing with the Past: Three Oresteias. In: International Federation for Theatre Research, Annual Conference 2016.
Laera, M. (2015). Subverting the ’Classics’: Adaptation and Resistance. In: London Theatre Seminar. Available at: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2015/11/margherita-laera-subverting-the-classics-adaptation-and-resistance/.
Contemporary theatres in Europe are currently awash with theatrical versions of ‘classical’ works from antiquity and modernity. The pervasiveness of adaptations on European stages results in a relentless repetition of known narratives that come with an ideological baggage attached, which theatre-makers engage with/reiterate/displace in more or less sophisticated ways, but inevitably re-evoke in the process. In this sense, adaptation would seem to inevitably position itself as a conservative undertaking, and especially so if the adaptation we are dealing with is of a ‘classic’.
This paper argues that the subtle and oppressive mechanism that is the ‘classical’, as discussed by Salvatore Settis in The Future of the ‘Classical’ (2006), can only be undermined by creative responses. But how can resistance to, and subversion of, that mythological mechanism that is a ‘classic’ take place without undermining itself through the inevitable re-iteration that is adaptation? What are the creative, performative and aesthetic tactics that are available to theatre-makers as agents of change through adaptation? Drawing on the work of Chantal Mouffe and Jacques Rancière on resistance and dissensus in the arts, this presentation assesses adaptation strategies adopted in Romeo Castellucci’s Ödipus der Tyrann (2015), Rimini Protokoll’s Prometheus in Athens (2010), Split Britches’ and Bloolips’ Belle Reprieve (1991), and Robert Icke’s Oresteia (2015) amongst others. In approaching the work of a selection of contemporary theatre-makers who serially use adaptation in their artistic output, I ask whether, and how, it may be possible to subvert a particular ‘canonical’ work and resist the ideological mechanism underpinning the very notion of the ‘classical’.
Laera, M. (2015). Texts and Scores as Places of Interaction. In: Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH).
Laera, M. (2011). ’I’ll Roughen It Up a Bit’: Multiple-Authored Theatre Translations. In: Invisible Presences.
This paper investigates translation for the stage as an inherently collaborative process, disrupting the generally accepted model of single authorship in translation. I will be analysing two case studies drawn from my recent experience as theatre translator: a production of Mohamed Kacimi’s play Letter to the Corinthians (2010) performed at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro, and a staging of my play Appuntamento dal Ginecologo (2010) performed in Rabat, Morocco.
Letter to the Corinthians was commissioned from Kacimi by the Italian Institute for Contemporary Dramaturgy, which was also acting as producer. The commission explicitly required a focus on the Islamic veil, but Kacimi, a Franco-Algerian atheist obsessed with the history of religions, had found it difficult to engage with this theme. When a first synopsis was finally submitted by the author, the commissioner/producer found it had no relationship with the veil and was therefore not acceptable. Following negotiations, a new synopsis was agreed and a first, incomplete draft was only submitted a few days before the opening. During rehearsals, collaboration between writer, director, actors and translator was critical to the play’s final version. Moreover, the ‘voice’ of the actors, who constantly changed the text during the performance, was superimposed on those of the author and translator. Speaking about the script during rehearsals, the main actress asked me: “I’ll roughen it up a bit, OK?”. Her sentence aptly summarises the process of transition from a neat, orderly page to the embodied, oral communication model of a stage performance, while commenting on the untenability of the traditional single-authorship paradigm.
The second case study, a Moroccan production of my play Appuntamento dal Ginecologo, also involved collaborative writing and translation. The text was translated from Italian into French and Moroccan Arabic (Darija) by four different writers and then performed in two languages. The first French text, a ‘literal’ self-translation, was later reworked into a ‘performable’ script by Mohamed Kacimi. Given Morocco’s bilingualism, the Czech director of the play agreed with the local actors that it would ‘make sense’ to perform certain scenes in Darija. Four out of eight scenes were therefore translated by the actors, and later reworked by the Moroccan playwright Driss Ksikes. The result was a heterogeneous work incorporating the ‘voice’ of author, director, translators and actors, confirming the proposed model of multiple authorship.
What can be learned from these case studies? In my conclusion, I comment on the notion of ‘performability’ and on problems of intercultural negotiation that emerged in the two productions, arguing that translating for theatre is necessarily a collaborative process. It is useful, therefore, to think of multiple authorship in theatre translation as the norm, rather than the exception.
Laera, M. (2017). Black Tenderness: The Passion of Mary Stuart. [Online]. Laera, M. ed. Imola: Cue Press. Available at: https://www.libroco.it/english/dl/Denise-Despeyroux/Cue-Press/9788899737245/Black-Tenderness-The-Passion-of-Mary-Stuart/cw782393383129753.html.
Laera, M. (2017). The Snakes. Laera, M. ed. Imola: Cue Press.
Laera, M. (2017). Gliwice Hamlet : Rehearsal of Touch Through The Pane. Laera, M. ed. Imola: Cue Press.
Laera, M. (2014). Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat. [Online]. Laera, M. ed. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/theatre-and-adaptation-9781472533166/.
Contemporary theatrical productions as diverse in form as experimental performance, new writing, West End drama, musicals and live art demonstrate a recurring fascination with adapting existing works by other artists, writers, filmmakers and stage practitioners. Featuring seventeen interviews with internationally-renowned theatre and performance artists, Theatre and Adaptation provides an exceptionally rich study of the variety of work developed in recent years. First-hand accounts illuminate a diverse range of approaches to stage adaptation, ranging from playwriting to directing, Javanese puppetry to British children's theatre, and feminist performance to Japanese Noh.
The transition of an existing source to the stage is not a smooth one: this collection examines the practices and the complex set of negotiations each work of transition and appropriation involves. Including interviews with Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, Handspring Puppet Company, Katie Mitchell, Rimini Protokoll, Elevator Repair Service, Simon Stephens, Ong Keng Sen and Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the volume reveals performance's enduring desire to return, rewrite and repeat.
Laera, M. ed. (2014). Interviews section. Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance 7.2.
Laera, M. (2011). Translating African Plays: Ethics, ‘Foreignisation’ and Collaboration. [Play].
Project description. The portfolio consists of three translations by Margherita Laera, from French and English into Italian, of contemporary African plays by Bola Agbaje (UK/Nigeria), Mohamed Kacimi (France/Algeria) and Athol Fugard (South Africa). These were performed in three consecutive editions of the Tramedautore Festival at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro (2009 to 2011), which focused on African theatre. The aim of this project was to promote contemporary African playwrights, whose work is rarely ever performed on European stages, thus confronting Italian audiences with different worldviews and imaginaries. The project investigated the ethical dimension and nuances of interlingual translation for the stage, encouraging debate and raising awareness among theatre-makers and audiences around the processes and ethics of theatre translation. It did so by adopting a permeable model of authorship, fostering collaboration during rehearsals, and by testing Lawrence Venuti’s arguments on literary translation in a performance context (Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility, 1995; and The Scandals of Translation, 1998). Research imperatives. - To promote translation for the stage as an ethical imperative. - To increase the visibility of under-represented post-colonial writers. - To facilitate debate between the different parties involved in translation for the stage, by discussing working drafts during rehearsals. - To explore the possibilities of ‘foreignising’ strategies (Venuti, 1995 and 1998), i.e. translational practices that seek to minimise the ‘domesticating’ effects of translation. Process. First drafts of performed translations have been put to the test on the stage and reworked, where possible, during rehearsals, or in collaboration with directors. Initially, the author sought to include both idiomatic and non-idiomatic expressions to shift the boundaries of the standard target dialect and thus welcome cultural difference. These initial ‘foreignising’ drafts have then been renegotiated in a workshop environment. Gradually, the author’s drafts were modified in collaboration with theatre-makers and became multiple-authored translations, increasing the ‘domesticating’ effect to achieve performability.
Laera, M. (2010). The Wedding at Cana Greenaway, P. ed. [Book]. Available at: http://www.chartaartbooks.it/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=charta_flypage&product_id=885&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=42&lang=en_US.
Peter Greenaway's performance catalogue, with script translated into Spanish by Mar Diestro-Dópido and supervised by Margherita Laera.
Laera, M. (2009). Noi, gli eroi Lagarce, J.-L. ed. [Book]. Available at: http://www.ubulibri.it/pagine/st-lagarce.htm.
'Nous, les héros', by Jean-Luc Lagarce, translated by Margherita Laera
Laera, M. (2009). The Blue Planet Greenaway, P. ed. [Book].
Peter Greenaway's opera libretto, translated from English into Italian by Margherita Laera.
Greenaway, P. and Laera, M. (2009). The Blue Planet. [Performance].
Peter Greenaway's experimental opera 'The Blue Planet', translated into Italian by Margherita Laera.
Laera, M. (2016). Translating Theatre: ‘Foreignisation’ on Stage. Practice As Research Portfolio. [Performance]. The Gate Theatre, Notting Hill.
Fugard, A. (2011). Il Guidatore Del Treno. [Performance].
Athol Fugard's 'The Train Driver', translated by Margherita Laera.
Kacimi, M. (2010). Epistola Alle Corinzie. [Performance].
Mohamed Kacimi's 'Epître aux Corinthiennes', translated by Margherita Laera
Agbaje, B. (2009). Troppo Lontano!. [Performance].
Bola Agbaje's 'Gone Too Far!', translated into Italian by Margherita Laera
Greenaway, P. (2009). Le Nozze Di Cana. [Performance].
Peter Greenaway's 'The Wedding at Cana', translated by Margherita Laera.
Laera, M. (2019). Review: The Routledge Companion to Adaptation. Contemporary Theatre Review.
Laera, M. (2018). Review: Greek Fragments in Postmodern Frames: Rewriting Tragedy 1970–2005. American Journal of Philology.
Laera, M. (2018). Royal Court: International (Review). Modern Drama 60:0-0.
Laera, M. (2012). Staging and Performing Translation: Text and Theatre Practice edited by Roger Baines, Cristina Marinetti, and Manuela Perteghella. Contemporary Theatre Review [Online] 22:281-282. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10486801.2012.669600.
Laera, M. (2009). Oedipus at the National Theatre: Celebrities and the Otherness of Tragedy. Western European Stages:73-74.