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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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KEURIS, Marisa. The changing world of Afrikaans drama translations and adaptations: A few remarks. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.1, pp.3-15. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article highlights a few aspects within the Afrikaans theatre tradition ofdrama translations and adaptations. A short historical overview is attemptedfrom the early beginnings of Afrikaans drama and theatre up to the present day - an in-depth discussion not being feasible within the confines of a short article. Three periods are foregrounded, namely (1) the important role played by drama translations during the period of establishing a European theatre in South Africa; (2) the clear link between Afrikaans drama translations and adaptations, and the development of the Afrikaans language (from its official acknowledgement in 1925, the decades following that important milestone, including the heyday flourishing of Afrikaner nationalism during the 1950's to the end of the 1980's), (3) as well as the period after 1994 when we find a change from more conventional translations to a greater use of adaptations and reworkings/recreations of plays within a new socio-cultural context. In my discussion of the first period I refer to the pioneering work done by F.C.L. Bosman in his comprehensive studies of the early days of South African drama and theatre (Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika Deel 1: 1652-1855; and Deel 2: 1856-1912). It is clear from his research that the first drama and theatre practitioners had to rely quite heavily on translations of plays to be able to produce theatre productions for the newly established Cape audience. The use of translated works was, however, a general practice during this period in Europe and most people made use of translations from other languages to supplement their own corpus ofplays. A number of well-known translated plays during this period, as well as translators (such as Mrs A.E. Carinus-Holzhausen) are mentioned, while a cursory indication is given of how drama translations were seen and discussed by both practitioners and theatre reviewers. In the second section, the importance of the development and establishment of the Afrikaans language and the link with Afrikaans drama and theatre are foregrounded. During this period (the heyday of Afrikaner nationalism) concerted efforts were made to develop the Afrikaans drama and theatre corpus by means of translations from the world drama and theatre traditions (as for example, reflected in the number of published translations during this period). In the period after 1994 fundamental changes occurred within the South African (and Afrikaans) theatre landscape. The disappearance of the old arts councils (PACT, PACOFS, CAPAB, NAPAC) in South Africa and the establishment of arts festivals (inter alia KKNK, AARDKLOP, TOYOTA US WOORDFEES, VRYSTAATFEES) impacted greatly on Afrikaans theatre (and its practitioners), but it is noticeable that the use of drama translations - more often drama and theatre adaptations - are still in high demand. In the ensuing discussion various well-known examples of drama translations and translators are given, mention is made of the fact that it is often translated plays which are performed at auspicious events (such as the inauguration of theatres - even the Pretoria State Theatre in 1981) and that without these plays many theatre practitioners would have been without work and many theatres would have been empty. The situation is, however, not unique to the South African theatre tradition, but it is a practice found all over the world and Afrikaans plays are, in fact, also translated into other languages as well as performed in other countries. In each period I also give an indication of how practitioners in the period under discussion approached drama translations or adaptations. Theoretical insights from contemporary theorists in the field of drama translation (inter alia Aaltonen, Mueller-Vollmer and Pavis) are inserted in these discussions to demonstrate how each period individually contributed to the praxis of drama and theatre translation in Afrikaans.

Keywords : drama translations; drama adaptations; Afrikaans theatre history; Afrikaner Nationalism; PACT; CAPAB; PACOFS; NAPAC; SWARUK.

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