The winter mainstage, “Translations” by Brian Friel, is a play steeped in historical and cultural significance. It explores the tensions that arise when a group of British officers force a small Irish town to change its place names to standardized British English. Much more than language is at stake in this scenario as the various characters fight for their cultural identities.
“The play captures the essence of people operating in a language that is not their own,” said Tamera Izlar, the director of the play. “It warns: If you allow a foreign power to redefine your identity and sense of culture, then you will sacrifice your ancestral heritage, and hence, forever lose yourself.”
Friel develops this theme by having a translator interpret all the words of the characters, who speak their own language. The actors and the crew have had to work hard to conquer the English, Latin, Greek, and Gaelic dialects sprinkled throughout the play.
“The cast respected the script by working diligently to learn the lines verbatim,” Izlar said. “Observing the actors seize the professionalism Friel’s ‘Translations’ demands was a blessing and a privilege to experience.”
Though “Translations” is a mostly traditional play, it nonetheless raises relevant issues to today’s modern world. According to Izlar, the Department of Theater Arts chose the play primarily for this reason.
“Goshen’s emphasis on global citizenship and intercultural sensitivity made this play an excellent choice for our campus and local community,” said Izlar. “Directing ‘Translations’ was a great opportunity to promote interdisciplinary learning.”
Izlar hopes that the issues presented in the play will spark conversation and personal reflection in the audience members. As many students have already read the play in different courses, including English, Humanities, and Theater, Izlar is excited to see the script come to life on stage.