Cleansing Translation


It is time for yet another post about translation and how fascinating I find it – there’s no coincidence that our most recent show is A Translation of Shadows and another drew much of its script from tourist phrasebooks.

We are currently putting the finishing touches to an agreement that will take The Cleansing of Constance Brown to Poland in November. This has led to a new question of translation.

“We have problems with the translation of the title of your performance.
It looks that you do a kind of subtle game of the words here.
Unfortunately the tranlations of word cleansing to Polish are more narrow and precise. So, could you give a short priority interpretation of use of word Cleansing in your title.”

Of course cleansing was chosen precisely because of its flexibility when used in a ‘subtle game of words’. She does the cleaning, there is an attempt to cleanse her spirit, she may be the victim of ethnic cleansing and so on. It is interesting to think about a ‘priority interpretation.

Later we were given two helpful choices:

“is it more in the sense of erasing, obliterating , rub out ( from memory)
or rather in the sense of expunging ?”

The first seems the harsher, so we have gone for this.

Simultaneously I am working with two environmental scientists on a small performance for Theater Bonn. My suggested title is Small People with Big Feet, apparently this doesn’t work well translated into German but after a bit of back and forth it has been agreed that the title can be in English – in fact there is a move to do the whole piece in English but as this would be done purely because my German is so poor I can’t allow this.

If we do it German hopefully it will require lots more translation!

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