Portrait of Dr Margherita Laera

Dr Margherita Laera

Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Director of Graduate Studies (Research)

About

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 Professor 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 at 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, 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.

Research interests

Margherita’s 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 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 Professor 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 book, Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019), 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. 

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.

Teaching

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 OthersAdaptationsDramaturgy and TranslationLondon, 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 TranslationCore Concepts for TranslatorsSpecialised 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.

Supervision

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.

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