36 Playwrights Named to "Translate" Shakespeare Plays into Modern English; See Who's Doing Midsummer Night's Dream

News   36 Playwrights Named to "Translate" Shakespeare Plays into Modern English; See Who's Doing Midsummer Night's Dream The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has announced the 36 playwrights who will "translate" William Shakespeare's 39 plays into modern English as part of a three-year commissioned project entitled Play on! 36 playwrights translate Shakespeare. Among them are Avenue Q librettist Jeff Whitty (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and MacArthur "Genius" Foundation Fellow Luis Alfaro (Henry IV, Part 2).

Jeff Whitty
Jeff Whitty

Among the goals of the project, according to a press statement, is to "increase understanding and connection to Shakespeare’s plays, as well as engage and inspire theatergoers, theater professionals, students, teachers and scholars."

“We began this project with a ‘What if?,’ said Lue Morgan Douthit, OSF’s director of literary development and dramaturgy, in a statement. “There are differences between the early modern English of Shakespeare and contemporary English. What if we looked at these plays at the language level through the lens of dramatists? What would we learn about how they work? Would that help us understand them in a different way? ‘Translate’ is an inadequate word because it implies a word-for-word substitution, which isn’t what we’re doing. I’m going for something much more subtle. But I like the rigor that ‘translate’ implies. What excites me the most about this is who will dig into these texts. We have paired 36 playwrights with dramaturgs, and we are asking them to go in and look at what the plays are made of. The writers get the great joy of tagging along with the world’s best poetic dramatist. It will be the geekiest exercise ever.”

The project has commissioned a playwright and dramaturg for each of the 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare.

In approaching the task OSF has established two basic rules: "First, do no harm. There is language that will not need translating and some that does. Each team is being asked to examine the play line-by-line and translate to contemporary modern English those lines that need translating. There is to be no cutting or editing of scenes and playwrights may not add their personal politics. Second, put the same kind of pressure on the language as Shakespeare put on his. This means the playwright must consider the meter, rhyme, rhythm, metaphor, rhetoric, character action and theme of the original. These translations are not adaptations. Setting, time period and references will remain unchanged."

OSF will continue its commitment to producing all of Shakespeare’s plays between 2015 and 2025, and all these productions will use the original texts. One or more of the Play on! translations may be produced at OSF along with the complete original canon. Each play will have a reading and workshop with a director and actors to provide further insight into the work before the final drafts are submitted. OSF will produce readings and workshops of these translations all over the country.

Kennenth Cavandar’s translation of Timon of Athens, a pilot for this project, was produced at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2014. Three translations are currently scheduled for production: Pericles at Orlando Shakespeare, Two Noble Kinsmen at University of Utah and The Tempest at Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

The complete list of plays, playwrights and dramaturgs follows:

 

PLAY

PLAYWRIGHT

DRAMATURG

All’s Well That Ends Well

Virginia Grise

Ricardo Bracho

Antony and Cleopatra

Christopher Chen

Desdemona Chiang

As You Like It

David Ivers

Lezlie C. Cross

The Comedy of Errors

Christina Anderson

Martine Kei Green-Rogers

Coriolanus

Sean San Jose

Rob Melrose

Cymbeline

Andrea Thome

John Dias

Edward III

Octavio Solis

Kimberly Colburn

Hamlet

Lisa Peterson

Luan Schooler

Henry IV, Part One

Yvette Nolan

Waylon Lenk

Henry IV, Part Two

Luis Alfaro

Tanya Palmer

Henry V

Lloyd Suh

Andrea Hiebler

Henry VI, Parts One, Two, Three

Douglas Langworthy

Mead Hunter

Henry VIII

Allison Moore

Julie Felise Dubiner

Julius Caesar

Shishir Kurup

Nancy Keystone

King John

Brighde Mullins

Katie Peterson

King Lear

Marcus Gardley

Nakissa Etemad

Love’s Labor’s Lost

Josh Wilder

Jeanie O’Hare

Macbeth

Migdalia Cruz

Ishia Bennison

Measure for Measure

Aditi Brennan Kapil

Liz Engelman

The Merchant of Venice

Elise Thoron

Julie Felise Dubiner

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Dipika Guha

Christine Sumption

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Jeff Whitty

Heidi Schreck

Much Ado About Nothing

Ranjit Bolt

Lydia G. Garcia

Othello

Mfoniso Udofia

TBA

Pericles

Ellen McLaughlin

Alan Armstrong

Richard II

Naomi Iizuka

Joy Meads

Richard III

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Gavin Witt

Romeo and Juliet

Hansol Jung

Aaron Malkin

The Taming of the Shrew

Amy Freed

Drew Lichtenburg

The Tempest

Kenneth Cavander

Christian Parker

Timon of Athens

Kenneth Cavander

Lue Morgan Douthit

Titus Andronicus

Taylor Mac

Jocelyn Clarke

Troilus and Cressida

Lillian Groag

James Magruder

Twelfth Night

Alison Carey

Lezlie Cross

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Amelia Roper

Kate McConnell

Two Noble Kinsmen

Tim Slover

Martine Kei Green-Rogers

The Winter’s Tale

Tracy Young

Ben Pryor

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