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Jean Graham-Jones

Jean Graham-Jones

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2010/11, 2013/14, 2016/17

Jean Graham-Jones is a Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature, and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, where she served as head of the Ph.D. Program in Theatre from 2009 to 2016. A specialist in Argentinean theatre and performance as well as an experienced actor, director, and translator, she is the author of, most recently Evita, Inevitably: Performing Argentina’s Female Icons before and after Eva Perón, and her many articles have appeared in journals and essay collections in Europe and the Americas. Her English translations of plays by Argentinean dramatists such as Lola Arias, Federico León, Ricardo Monti, Rafael Spregelburd, Claudio Tolcachir, and Daniel Veronese have been published, staged, and/or have served as supertitles for international tours.  She is a former editor of Theatre Journal and currently the elected President of the International Federation for Theatre Research (2015-2019).

Research Project

Impossible Necessities: The Challenges of Contemporary Performance Translation

This book-length essay collection explores the possibilities for and the limitations of translating for the contemporary stage.  The project has developed out of my twenty-year commitment to translation, primarily from Spanish to English and chiefly Argentine plays for U.S. and British productions and supertitles; and these essays chart my reflections on key theatrical translation experiences and their attendant challenges.  Pushing beyond the now-standard approaches to theatrical translation, my analyses open up traditional linguistic and cultural categories by incorporating into the translation process considerations of dramaturgical logic, actor training and performance styles, choreography and gesture, and performance aesthetics and reception.  All the essays bear the traces of my long-abiding concerns regarding linguistic, cultural, and performance translation and its circulation.  Translation in performance, precisely because of the complexities brought about by its linguistic, cultural, aesthetic, and technical engagements, has great potential for complicating the often-assumed unidirectional destiny of a given translation and for exposing the dangerous asymmetries contained within the increasing globalization of English.  With this collection, I aim to encourage readers to radically rethink the explorative possibilities in translating for the contemporary stage.

Selected Publications

  • Reason Obscured: Nine Plays by Ricardo Monti, Lewisburg [London]: Bucknell University Press [Associated University Presses], 2004.

  • BAiT: Buenos Aires in Translation. Recent Argentinean Plays, New York: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center / TCG, 2007.

  • Evita, Inevitably: Performing Argentina’s Female Icons Before and After Eva Perón. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2014.
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