The theatre translator as a cultural agent: A case study

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This case study describes the activities between 1975 and the end of the 1980s by a group of theatre translators associated with the cultural project of a collective agent, the Centro Cultural de Évora (CCE), a professional theatre group, set up in 1975 by the Ministry of Culture. Established in the interior of Portugal, in Évora, the CCE aimed at making theatre at both a regional and national level more dynamic. The company used a repertoire of plays most of which were by classic and contemporary foreign authors. The list of authors shows us that a large number of them are French, demonstrating the traditional presence of French culture in Portugal. Other authors are German, revealing the influence of the theatre of Brecht after 1974 in Portugal. Certain authors, both contemporary and older authors, were translated into Portuguese for the first time. Others, generally classics like Molière and Shakespeare, are retranslated in contemporary versions. The intervention of the CCE corresponds to what Even-Zohar calls cultural planning as the aesthetic choices of the programmes of this company correspond to the importation of the theatrical and cultural model which had already been experienced in France from 1950 to 1970, that of the decentralization of the theatre, where the reading of the classics and the promotion of certain contemporary authors are vital. Translation played a central role in the choices of this cultural agent, showing the dramatic and artistic choices in the theatrical innovation following the 25 April 1974 revolution, after the end of censorship, when Portugal was open again to other languages and ideas. The translations have generally been linked to a type of theatre which had considerable influence during the period of the development of new projects after 1975, especially with young or new companies performing the same translated texts and which has benefited from the support of the CCE, which founded this decentralization movement.


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