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Performing Utopia

What new methods can be developed to encourage audience participation in a foreign-language play?

This was a collaborative, student-led translation, adaptation and performance of a one-act utopian play from the French Revolution, The last judgement of all Kings  under the direction of Simon Hatab.

The project comprised of four elements:

  1. A performance involving the general public that aimed to prototype new methods of encouraging audience participation in a foreign-language play.

  2. A student-led collaborative translation involving final-year King's French students and Masters students at Paris-Nanterre, stressing the feedback loop between translation and adaptation to a contemporary context and performance.

  3. A documentary film capturing the creative/learning process.

  4. The use of this project as a case-study for collaborative translations. This is an untested field, both for research and student-led teaching that departs from the authorial model of literary translation produced by a single person.

Performing UtopiaThe aim of this project was to reactivate elements of utopian thought germane to a contemporary situation rather than simply to stage a historical curiosity or heritage production. To this end, it incorporated student discussion and translation decisions into the scenario and the play concluded with a discussion involving representatives from contemporary egalitarian movements, including Southall Black Sisters, Occupy and Syriza.

The play was performed in the Chapel of King’s College London’s Strand Campus on June 5, 2015 to a public of 96 spectators, in conjunction with an academic conference on a similar theme. It was positively reviewed. The performance included bilingual elements and innovative subtitles. The team also produced a high-equality translation that they eventually hope to publish. 

 

 

 

A video of the project is available below:

Project Team

This project was a collaboration between Simon Hatab, dramaturge at Opéra de Paris, Dr Sanja Perovic and Dr. Soizick Solman with students from the Department of French at KCL and English Department at Université de Paris X Nanterre.

For more information, visit the  website. Read a review of the play  here.  

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