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The Gate Theatre: A translation powerhouse on the inter-war British stage

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This article examines the members-only theatre club – the Gate Theatre Studio – that operated between 1925 and 1940 in Covent Garden. Led by only two successive artistic directors, this relatively small establishment has become one of the most daring institutions of the inter-war British theatre scene, by taking risks in introducing new work from continental Europe and America to British audiences, and thus, going against the grain of dominant indigenous cultural policy. Focusing on the clearly defined agenda to broaden the parameters of performance practice in Britain, the Gate made an effort to align its repertoire to those of European theatres and to nurture home-grown talent in terms of writing, translating and adapting for the stage. In this way, the Gate has irreversibly shaped the profile of stage translation in a culture where interlinguistic communication has had a relatively low status and consolidated the practice of adaptation as an endeavour appealing to British theatre makers and dramatists. Not subject to the Lord Chamberlain’s Examiner of Plays, due to its private club status, the Gate was also instrumental in revealing the obsolete nature of theatre censorship; successful Gate productions often led to the discovery of new plays by the theatre establishment and to the subsequent lifting of censorial bans for their staging in public theatres.

Keywords: British theatre; European theatre; adaptation; censorship; club theatres; inter-war period (1925–1940); stage translation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: De Montfort University

Publication date: 2011-08-26

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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