Into the Woods: Translation and the Transnational Transmission of Trauma on Minority Language Stages
Keywords:Catalan theatre, Eco-translation, Multilingualism, Trauma, Shakespeare, Wajdi Mouawad
This article approaches contemporary Catalan theatre as a translation zone, in which subjective limits are negotiated and identities (dis)articulated in the process. Focusing on works directed by Calixto Bieito and Oriol Broggi, who, despite their many differences, are known for engaging with interlingual and intercultural translation in the creative process, often beckoning overt reflection on the relationship between languages, environment and identity, the article excavates what three particular plays, Forests (2012), Incendis (2012) and Boscos (2017), all based on translations from more hegemonic languages, reveal about the place of minority languages on the global stage and about looking at the world from a minority-language perspective. In so doing, the article seeks to go beyond the more optimistic and celebratory readings of previous work on Catalonia-in-translation and to attend to the ways in which the asymmetries faced by minority languages in multilingual settings result in, or are experienced as loss, violence and/or trauma. Via diverse processes of translation, languages such as Catalan provide sensitive lenses for the transmission of narratives of transnational trauma, as a direct result of the daily negotiations of place, relatedness and resilience that they demand for survival. The title of the article, “Into the woods,” is intended to be read both literally and figuratively, in recognition of the increasing attention to eco-critical and environmental concerns in contemporary Catalan theatre and of the ways in which renewed attention to ecological survival often goes hand in hand with a commitment to language ecology. On a more figurative level, the article follows the cues provided by the metaphorical wordplay about woods and trees in the reception of Bieito’s Forests and Broggi’s Boscos in order to address the question of what the fact of different languages enables and prevents us from seeing—and what we can learn from making the effort to look at the world multilingually from the perspective of a minority language speaker.