On April 20 and 21, Özlem Dündar’s AN GRENZEN was read in my English translation (as body w/o borders) by Sanjana Taskar. The reading was directed by Joseph Megel, who has accompanied the development of the play with me and Özlem for a year and a half.
First, questions arose about the information that an American audience was missing from this piece about xenophobic and right-wing violence in Germany. As early as 2022, at a seminar in Berlin, we found that even a young German audience didn’t connect with the arson attacks of the 1990s and even with the so-called NSU. This led Özlem to include some information specifically about the recruitment agreements, but also a list of victims from the Antonio Amadeo Foundation.
Of course, the reading and rehearsals served as a welcome, rare opportunity for me to review translation decisions. I was able to iron out many weaknesses with Sanjana’s and Joseph’s help. This is a chance we theatre translators don’t get very often before the plays are put on stage. With FLÄCHENBRAND (WILDFIRE ROAD) by Eve Leigh, for example, I was only able to do this at the premiere at Theater Bonn.
When the text was read in Chapel Hill as part of the Process Series, we also solicited feedback from the audience, who described how the text affected them. The Process Series, as the name suggests, is the optimal forum for the development of texts, including translated texts. The audience receives questionnaires, the results of which are passed on to the authors. Özlem is also to receive these comments. Her text is extremely demanding, rhythm-oriented and does not let the audience off the leash for a second with regard to its weighty topic.
I’m excited about further work with this text and the prospects of sending it on the road in the U.S. and the English-speaking world.