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Translation Plays

Enabling young people to interact creatively with the theatre translation process and exploring how they can relate to different countries, experiment with language and develop ways to perform. 

The project was supported by King’s as part of the 2014 Collaborative innovation scheme for early career researchers.  It was a collaboration between Sophie Stevens, Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies and Arcola Theatre.

Translation plays offered young people the opportunity to engage with plays from Uruguay as a way of exploring how we can form links with different cultures through theatre. The project was underpinned by a concern for how secondary school students develop cultural awareness, their own sense of cultural identity and how they interact with the different cultures they encounter in their local communities and through their studies at school.

The workshops explored the theatre translation process, which is at the heart of Sophie Stevens’ PhD research, to reveal it as a dynamic and creative process. The workshop became a 'laboratory' in which participants experiment with different types of communication and explored ways to make a play relevant to the cultural context of the UK.


Games and activities, developed in collaboration with actor and theatre practitioner William Donaldson, demonstrated how theatre translators identify and use the rhythm and pace of language when they move from the original language (in this case, Spanish) into the target language (English) to provide an insight into the translation process. Activities that focused on how to perform a character from a different culture supported students in establishing links with the play by encouraging them to identify similarities with their own experience, to create a space for reflecting on cultural identity. 

The workshops formed part of the Arcola Youth Theatre programme. They aimed to foster an interest in international theatre, to demonstrate how plays from other countries can be performed in a way that is relevant to London and Londoners today and to generate ideas about how to develop cross-cultural theatre.

The workshops explored how students relate to new cultures, how perceived language barriers can be transcended and how a dynamic process of theatre translation can be interactive and generate new translations for performance.

Project team

Sophie Stevens

Sophie Stevens is a PhD student in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. Her research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Sophie's PhD explores the creative process of theatre translation by investigating key questions about how to create translations that are performable within the context of the UK today. Her research is based on the study of a corpus of plays from Uruguay and she has completed translations of The Library by Carlos Maggi and Dancing Alone Every Night by Raquel Diana. She contributes to the Out of the Wings Theatre Research Translation and Performance Group.  

William Donaldson

William Donaldson is a LAMDA trained actor and workshop facilitator who has worked with students from six to 60 and beyond. He has worked with the Shakespeare Schools Festival, Young Shakespeare Company, and Arcola Theatre. 

Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre is one of London’s leading off-West End theatres. Locally engaged and internationally minded, Arcola stages a diverse programme of plays, operas and musicals. World-class productions from major artists appear alongside cutting-edge work from the most exciting emerging companies. Arcola delivers one of London’s most extensive community engagement programmes, creating over 5000 opportunities every year. By providing research and development space to diverse artists, Arcola champions theatre that’s more engaging and representative. Its pioneering environmental initiatives are internationally renowned, and aim to make Arcola the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre. The workshops will be held as part of the Arcola Youth Theatre programme.


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