The Linguist

The Linguist 54,1

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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20 The Linguist FEBRUARY/MARCH FEATURES What happens when two friends create a play in two languages? Playwright Reza Shirmarz and translator Nikos Anastasopoulos on a unique collaboration Iranian playwright Reza Shirmarz and Greek translator Nikos Anastasopoulos are working on a new play entitled Immigrants. Their working methods – in which the translator is actively involved in the creative process – blur the boundaries between the English-language original and the Greek translation. They discuss this unique collaboration and how it has impacted on the final play. Nikos Anastasopoulos: it began the day we took a walk in the sprawling areas of athens and Reza's eyes were meticulously scanning the hangouts of illegal immigrants, sitting on every corner. Reza said, 'Their faces tell you how deeply they feel "blah", how heavy-hearted they seem to be.' although our curiosity appeared to be somehow risky, it finally resulted in the plot of a new play: a black comedy that cultivates a triangle of characters coming from different cultures, a triangle full of psychological conflict with a flavour of humour. at the outset, two old rotten caskets appear under the dim spotlight in an old warehouse, which is now used as a room with the most basic living facilities. Immigrants illustrates the lives of two immigrants – a self-exiled comedian from iran and a former child soldier from africa – who experience an absurd life. They have both established a distinct sort of relationship with a Greek cabaret performer. Reza Shirmarz: Struggling with ennui and malaise caused by hardship, the undocumented immigrants were all exiled into an isolated world. i, naturally, found the whole situation quite irresistible for a new dramatic work. NA: i liked to see the appalling tragedy through your eyes – the eyes of an immigrant playwright – though some Greek writers had already written about this. RS: i had always thought that writers must stay in their motherland to be effective, but when i migrated to Greece i found a lot of interesting material. iran is trapped in a sort of monoculturalism led by one mainstream culture; you don't see many foreigners because of the limited governmental system of tourism. Probably a dramatist has more chance to flourish in a multicultural society with a more widespread, complicated social structure, such as Greece. NA: Monoculturalism has an important role in your previous plays, for example Crystal Vines, about a vineyard that dies out and a family which collapses afterwards. you have represented characters on the basis of their personal differences, but they are mostly pushed – socially and politically – to think and act in the same way. However, Immigrants speaks about an unavoidable impasse in which the characters are inescapably going to be buried. RS: you started the translation before i finished the text and even convinced me to change certain elements in the play. you helped me to have a closer eye on the current political trends involved in illegal immigration – the illegal gates people from the Middle east and africa use to cross the border and enter into Greece, and other relevant things i needed in order to build up my play. But you knew that i would probably change the first draft, didn't you? NA: i knew that you might change your mind about some parts of the play and i would have to follow, but since this was the first time i was directly collaborating with a playwright, i was excited to follow the creative journey. A dramatic interaction STREET LIFE Graffiti supporting immigrants in Athens Ryan Healy, 6/4/10 via FlickR (cc By-nc-nD 2.0)

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