Friday, December 3, 2010

The Catalan Connection

The Catalan Connection brought three remarkable Catalan plays to a Canadian audience and theatre experts. It also offered rich human encounters between the 27 artists and 75 audience members. The brain child of Saskatoon’s Tom Bentley Fisher and Elisabet Rafòls, the project saw three plays, by three different authors, taken to three different cities in Canada. Vancouver partners PTC and Pi Theatre collaborated with producer Tant per Tant and Playwrights' Workshop Montreal to travel Tom and Elisabet’s vision across the country. The goal: a translation that will be effective in the Canadian context without betraying its Catalan view of the world. The writers Marta Buchaca, Pera Riera and Pau Miró, accompanied by the translators Tom and Elisabet from Tant per Tant, had been working on the scripts in Saskatoon, brought them to Vancouver and are in Montreal this week, testing the translation choices in three different Canadian contexts.

It is always a very delicate and thin line that makes translation effective in the new context without leaving aside its original cultural and linguistic background. What became evident in the process is that no matter how specific and local the story is, there is always a universal aspect to it, something that will make it relevant anywhere in the world.

The three plays revolved around the idea of the decay of the family institution. Buffalos by Pau Miró dealt with the repercussions of an unstable family life, the physical abuse and the abandonment of a group of siblings who will have to fight for their survival and will develop very distinct mechanisms of dealing with the reality outside the four walls of their house. The fable core of the play transports us to a continent full of wild life, buffalos, lions, elephants and giraffes.

Girls shouldn’t play soccer by Marta Buchaca takes us to an unusual situation in a waiting room where three characters will wake to the reality of not knowing anything about the secret lives of their closest family members. The issue of domestic violence and fear is also one of the common threads of the play.

Far from Nuuk by Pera Riera confronts us with the illusory links that hold an aristocratic family and their business together. The psychological development of the characters faces us with the need of parricide in order to convey a personal identity and specific role within the family dynamic. The characters will have to redefine their relationships and will be forced to wake up to an unstable reality of rupture. The story is presented in real time, an hour and a half before the sister’s wedding.

The writers, as well as the translators were present through the readings and script analysis that took place at PTC on Granville Island. The text was a living force being modified by every reading with the help of the internalization of the characters by the actors, the direction given by the dramaturges and the acute sense of literary effectiveness of the translators and writers as well as the audiences and their valuable feedback. It was fascinating to witness how the different cultural notions and backgrounds affected the interpretation of the plays taking them to new unexpected dimensions.

Overall The Catalan Connection was a project that evidenced the need to connect to other parts of the world by interpreting theatre plays that are relevant to all of us, despite the fact that they come from distant places. The more we know the stories of the world, the more we will understand our own…

Martu Lasso

Martu Lasso is from Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. During her first years of college she studied Communications, Linguistics and Literature at Universidad Católica del Ecuador. She spent her junior year in London at the film studies program of Middlesex University. The next stop was upstate New York, where she engaged in linguistic studies at New Paltz University. After having spent some time abroad she returned to Quito where she graduated with a degree in Visual Communications and Literature. In the following years she started a family, joined a theatre school and worked in diverse film, and theatre festivals, as well as cultural TV and radio shows. In 2008 Martu and her family decided to move to Seattle, where she pursued an MA in Hispanic Studies while teaching Spanish at the University of Washington. Through this process her focus of study was the theatre produced in the Hispanic world. She acted in the play “El gesticulador” by Rodolfo Ucigli. She also wrote, directed and acted in a short film and translated a collection of poems by Luis Garcia Montero. Three months ago she moved to Vancouver where she is starting a new life with her two kids and her partner.

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