Saturday, March 28, 2009

A few words from Amy Oliver

Documentation of Act II of Ubu Enchained is posted below. Here are some words from the play's translator, Amy Oliver, which I asked for as a shoddy stand-in for her actual presence at the goings-on (stuck as she was over in the U of K):

Dear friends, enemies and innocent bystanders,

In the interests of brevity, I will be brev. Suffice it to say that if the experience of translating this play has taught me anything, it is that the act of translation involves not merely substituting one word for another, that is to say not at all. It involves rewriting the whole thing, not merely for speakers of English, but for speakers of the 21st Century, of America and England, of digital watches and fat-free yoghurt and 24-hour supermarket shopping. That is not to say that the text has been brought up to date in any way- indeed, I hope it maintains that unnatural combination of eerie timelessness and off-putting anachronism with which, in part, Alfred Jarry won our love in the first place.

My other great realisation was that, contrary to my previous beliefs, I could not actually speak French at all. This was, as you can imagine, something of an impediment to the completion of this project. Nevertheless, I discovered that by staring intensely at the book for a protracted period of time, I was able to extract some meaning from the senseless gobbledegook on the page. It is that meaning, painstakingly squeezed, that we present to you

My thanks go out, of course, to the New Jersey Post-Neo contingent, firstly for doing me the honour of choosing to perform my translation of Ubu Enchainé, and secondly for edifying it with what I anticipate to be a truly shit-hot performance. I hope you may come to appreciate the horrors which I have wrought upon this poor, defenceless piece of theatre. I am clutched by horrifying pangs of grief when I think that I cannot be with you today in order to suffer the deluge of rotten fruit, eggs, other groceries and perhaps even physical beatings that I might otherwise have found myself suffocating beneath in the event of your displeasure.

Thank you.

Amy Oliver, Feb 2009