You don’t speak Russian, but you can still go to Farewell to Paper and experience this charming one-man show thanks to a live translation. What is it like to translate a theatre show live for an audience? Farewell to Paper’s live translator Kyle Wilson feels the weight of responsibility ahead of the opening of show tonight.
Translating is never straight forward because the words and ideas that occur in one language are not always found in the other – which can mean that as a translator you spend two or three sentences explaining the one idea. When you have to do that live, while an actor is performing, there is extra pressure to get it right.
As Wilson explains, he has three tasks to fulfil. Firstly he has to express the meaning of the words. Then he needs to convey the nuances, the subtler shades of meaning in the words or indeed behind the words. And then, because he is translating the words of an actor, he also has to get across something of the performer’s character. It’s a tough ask and one made all the more difficult by performer Evgeny Grishkovet’s particular style. He’s very keen that the translation not get in the way of his connection with the audience – meaning Wilson must be fast and efficient with his translation so the tempo of the show does not slow down and the intimacy with the audience is maintained.
Of course Wilson has studied the Russian script for Farewell to Paper ahead of the show opening, its author and performer does improvise in each performance – reacting to the audience, or the venue or the city he is in. And so the translator has to be on his toes, always striving to ensure audiences in Perth can enjoy the show regardless of the language barrier.
Image: Jessica Wyld