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In Praise of Treason: Translating Calabar

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Taking as a starting point Oswald de Andrade's concept of anthropophagy as a metaphor for cross-cultural interactions, this article examines some of the issues involved in translating (or adapting to a different cultural environment) a text that is itself a cannibalisation. Buarque and Guerra's play Calabar: In Praise of Treason (Editora Civilizao Brasileira), originally published in 1973, was rewritten in 1979, adapting to the new socio-political climate under which it was to be staged. The writers make use of a number of intertextual sources in order to create a text that demands constant watchfulness of their reader-translator-reader. Introducing this important Brazilian play to Anglophone audiences, this article moves on to explore some of the more practical aspects of translation in general and, in particular, of translating a political stage musical. Drawing on post-colonial theories of translation (and from ideas contained in the play itself) the article makes the case for the ubiquity and indeed necessity of treason as tool in such interactions.
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Keywords: Brazilian theatre; Calabar; Chico Buarque; Ruy Guerra; anthropophagy; post-colonial theatre; theatre translation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Buckinghamshire New University.

Publication date: 07 November 2007

More about this publication?
  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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