Translating the City: A Community Theatre Version of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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In Alan Lyddiard's 2003 adaptation of Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire the setting of the late-1980s Berlin was fully translated into the present-day Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Designed by Neil Murray and incorporating John Alder's original film footage, the production also featured members of the community in conjunction with the Northern Stage ensemble. Partly forming a retrospective analysis of the process from my point of view as the company and production dramaturg, this essay explores the ways in which the Newcastle production functioned as an exercise in translating a city. The account of the adaptation process is framed by an analytical discussion of the original text and its transition into a particular socio-political context, in conjunction with an interrogation of the phenomenology of translation and Wenders' deliberate synaesthetic approach to the material. Finally, the article seeks to conceptualize the text with regard to its apparent inter- and cross-cultural mobility.

Keywords: Wim Wenders; adaptation; city; cultural migration; dramaturgy; translation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Bristol.

Publication date: November 7, 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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