Robin Ellis (Davidson College): “Theater of Refuge: Jelinek’s Charges and the Versatorium Translation Collective”.

Friday, February 16, 2018
When Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek’s play Charges (Die Schutzbefohlenen) premiered in 2014, it featured German actors speaking of flight and exile while accompanied on stage by a chorus of actual refugees. While critics debated representations of refugees in European theater, the Vienna-based Versatorium collective responded by translating Jelinek’s monolingual play into nine languages. The group, which includes professional translators, students, and refugees, also performed dramatic readings of their translations in various European venues. By staging translation as a multidirectional process of encounter, Versatorium challenges models of advocacy that position refugees as mute victims while extending the polyvocal potential of Jelinek’s text.
Robin Ellis is a Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies at Davidson College. She received her Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of California, Berkeley with a dissertation titled “Making Translation Visible: Interpreters in European Film and Literature.” Her research focuses on questions of transnational mobility and intercultural communication, and her publications include articles on Joe May’s 1921 film The Indian Tomb and Feridun Zaimoglu’s 1998 mock-ethnography Headstuff.
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