Piano Etudes has been an intensive project of translating, besides the grouping of texts, music, theatre and exhibition. This is most visible in the book of Piano Etudes, in which the basic Dutch text has been adapted, as have the English, Portuguese and French translations.
The accessibility of the texts, first in English, later on in the other languages, opened doors for the participating artists and performances in Brazil and Europe. This was also the case for the musicians, originally from Poland. However he theatre itself is a continuous process of translating, of interpreting, of communicating, creating nuances and exchanging ideas.
The process of translation took different forms. First I made an English translation of the texts. Attempting to stay as close as possible to my own texts I asked the English speaking Sonia de Jager –also one of the artists- to check my English version.
Just as I earlier wrote about the ‘pianitas’, Helena Rios, Flavia Tojal and Daniele Queiroz, they realized the Portuguese translation and so opened doors for the participation of Brazilian artists. The material also lends itself very well for other translations, depending on different initiatives from somewhere else.
My recently deceased friend Pierre Morice in Vézelay (in the Burgundy in France) stimulated me to agree to the performance of Piano Etudes in Vézelay. We asked for cooperation with Maison-Jules Roy (the writers residence where in 2007 I created the project A Winter Heart and Suite Vézelienne, together with Cees Thissen who wrote the music for the Suite) and Cité de la Voix, the Centre Vocale in Vézelay. The production responsibility this performance was in French hands and of course a French translation. Isabelle Mège, ‘model’ for my project Isabelle –and she also became a friend- made the French translation.
The production collapsed, because the department didn’t want to create a budget for this. The two institutions, Cité de la Voix and Maison-Jules Roy, with the motive power of Emmanuelle Schwartz wanted to continue. The choice has now been made for a form through which the exhibition should be visible for six weeks during the summer this year. There will not be a theatre-performance, but an ‘evocative’ evening, during which texts will be read and different pieces of piano music performed by Anna Vanickova, a musician from the region. Maybe a comparable set-up will be realized in São Paulo, perhaps in the form of a lecture.
Tomasz Górny always had the idea to realize a Polish version in some form and he found someone, Maria Wójtowicz, who, impressed with the material, started to translate. Now she has almost completed half of it. This makes the option for a Polish performance much more realistic, probably in Kraków and Warsaw, and of course with ‘our’ Polish musicians Tomasz and Magdalena.
Music is of course a matter of interpretation, to translate the mood in the stories into music. This is also the case for the visual works, which play such an important place in the performance and in the book. The same applies to the light- and sound-design from our technical artists Abdullah Geels and Evan Morris. All ‘translations’ interpret, to contrive the strongest possible unity. Abdullah also made beautiful short trailers, as did Flavia Tojal and Helena Rios in São Paulo, Marta Golebiowska made strong pictures for the website and publicity.The small drawings of the piano were exhibited in an enlarged format in most of the theatres of the tour, on music stands, as an installation. The works themselves have been projected during the performances and are present in the book, unique interpretations of the stories in all kind of forms and nuances.
For the blogs, Jeff Clements and Jan Voster very carefully checked my English translations and certainly improved them! It has been important to have this bilingual material, to be able to give backgrounds and sources and to help the audience become much more involved in the project. Also our ‘communicators’ Geertje van Emmnerik and Stefanie Grimbergen and Veronica Divendal have put considerable energy into the interpretation and communication for all kinds of publicity options, including sponsors and crowdfunding.
Translation is both interpretation and communication and this has been one of the strengths of the Piano Etudes.