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Transalations for WSS Broadway Revival 
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Post Transalations for WSS Broadway Revival
Sondheim dropped the following information about the West Side Story revival in an interview about Road Show:

Quote:
Plus, there’s more Sondheim on the way, most prominently a Broadway revival of West Side Story that will feature Spanish-language dialogue and lyrics. ("West Side olé olé," he says drily, when I bring it up. He thinks it’s "a great idea," and says Lin-Manuel Miranda, of In the Heights, is in line to translate his lyrics.)


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Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:28 pm
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I KNOW! I can't wait. It sounds brilliant.

I saw a phenomenal production of R&J set in modern day L.A. in which much of Shakspeare's language was translated into Spanish. From the Spanish I could entiendo, it was remarkable.


Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:31 pm
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Post Translations
In Seth Rudetsky's newest "Onstage and Backstage" column for Playbill, he interviews Lin-Manuel Miranda, who gives us some new information about which songs have been translated so far:

Seth Rudetsky wrote:
Speaking of Sondheim, Lin is in charge of translating the West Side Story songs into Spanish for the upcoming revival! Not all of them, FYI. So far, just the Sharks part in the "Tonight" quintet, "I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That." He literally got to go over to "Steve's" house to talk about how to do the lyrics. There are Spanish translations out there, but some parts are good and some are clanky, so they want Lin to do a new version. For instance, Sondheim said that some versions of "I Feel Pretty" translate as "I Am Pretty," which is not correct — especially if it features the Maria I saw do it in community theatre.


Do you think that means "America" is bring done later or not at all?

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Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:35 pm
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That would be amazing! Lin-Manuel is my hero and I would probably see WSS just for this. ;) It just helps that it's an amazing musical, haha.


Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:54 pm
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^Amen!!!

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Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:24 pm
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Post WSS Translations
Salome at The Stage Door thread wrote:
I really think the bi-lingual thing is a stupid idea. I wouldn't waste 80 to 100 bucks on that gimmick. I want to hear Laurents's (dialogue) and Sondheim's (lyrics) not a translator's gimmick.

I suppose the fact that Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim have been on board the production means nothing then? What's being done in the translations is obviously being done with their approval and the final product is under their supervision; it's clearly not intended as a gimmick. There is a process behind the choice and the choice doesn't undermine what the piece is about.

In all the feedback I've read on other boards from people who've actually seen this production, I haven't heard a negative report on the translations. (There have, however, been other concerns about elements of the show, particularly in regard to the costumes and set as well as with the placement of the surtitles on the side of the stage.)

kozafluitmusique at at The Stage Door thread wrote:
I'm a little concerned about this bit, too, but I'm also curious how they did it.

To sum up what there is to know about the translations at present:

The only songs that are completely translated are "A Boy Like That/ I Have a Love", "I Feel Pretty", and the Shark parts of the "Tonight (Quintet)". Lin-Manuel Miranda's translations of the lyrics are not literal, word-for-word translations but retain the dramatic objective and spirit of the song as well as the rhyme scheme. (Apparently the surtitles display the original lyrics rather than translating what the Spanish lyrics actually mean.)

The Shark boys speak almost exclusively in Spanish, except for the occasion they address the Jets. In the first scene with Anita and Maria, they speak English, then switch to Spanish when Bernardo and Chino enter. Before America, the characters speak in Spanish while the boys are on stage, but Anita switches to English as soon as the gang members exit. "America" is in English, as an attempt to reveal Anita's desire to embrace the country in which she now lives. (After Bernardo's death and her view of America is dashed, she only speaks in Spanish, a choice that is quite effective by all accounts.) After the rumble, conversations between Maria and (respectively) Chino and Anita are in Spanish. Maria's final speech begins in Spanish, but she switches to English.

Here is a link for an NPR broadcast, which features an a capella clip of the Spanish versions of "I Feel Pretty" and "I Have a Love". The clip also discusses the new, supposedly darker, take on "Gee, Officer Krupke".

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Post Re: WSS Translations
RainbowJude wrote:
Salome at The Stage Door thread wrote:
I really think the bi-lingual thing is a stupid idea. I wouldn't waste 80 to 100 bucks on that gimmick. I want to hear Laurents's (dialogue) and Sondheim's (lyrics) not a translator's gimmick.

I suppose the fact that Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim have been on board the production means nothing then? What's being done in the translations is obviously being done with their approval and the final product is under their supervision; it's clearly not intended as a gimmick. There is a process behind the choice and the choice doesn't undermine what the piece is about.

In all the feedback I've read on other boards from people who've actually seen this production, I haven't heard a negative report on the translations. (There have, however, been other concerns about elements of the show, particularly in regard to the costumes and set as well as with the placement of the surtitles on the side of the stage.)

kozafluitmusique at at The Stage Door thread wrote:
I'm a little concerned about this bit, too, but I'm also curious how they did it.

To sum up what there is to know about the translations at present:

The only songs that are completely translated are "A Boy Like That/ I Have a Love", "I Feel Pretty", and the Shark parts of the "Tonight (Quintet)". Lin-Manuel Miranda's translations of the lyrics are not literal, word-for-word translations but retain the dramatic objective and spirit of the song as well as the rhyme scheme. (Apparently the surtitles display the original lyrics rather than translating what the Spanish lyrics actually mean.)

The Shark boys speak almost exclusively in Spanish, except for the occasion they address the Jets. In the first scene with Anita and Maria, they speak English, then switch to Spanish when Bernardo and Chino enter. Before America, the characters speak in Spanish while the boys are on stage, but Anita switches to English as soon as the gang members exit. "America" is in English, as an attempt to reveal Anita's desire to embrace the country in which she now lives. (After Bernardo's death and her view of America is dashed, she only speaks in Spanish, a choice that is quite effective by all accounts.) After the rumble, conversations between Maria and (respectively) Chino and Anita are in Spanish. Maria's final speech begins in Spanish, but she switches to English.

Here is a link for an NPR broadcast, which features an a capella clip of the Spanish versions of "I Feel Pretty" and "I Have a Love". The clip also discusses the new, supposedly darker, take on "Gee, Officer Krupke".

Later days
David


I'll look for that!

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Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:55 am
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Post Re: WSS Translations
RainbowJude wrote:
I suppose the fact that Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim have been on board the production means nothing then? What's being done in the translations is obviously being done with their approval and the final product is under their supervision; it's clearly not intended as a gimmick. There is a process behind the choice and the choice doesn't undermine what the piece is about.


I undertand this and accept the argument, but even though this is under the approval of the writers, I think it's a misguided choice. I interpret it to be an attempt to bring a new sense of authenticity to the piece, and (without ever having the possibility to actually see this production) my opinion is that it's a wrong choice.

It reminds me of the recent production of Cabaret I saw here, where the onstage songs were in English (or some instances German/French), and the book songs were in Norwegian. Some of them, those that blur the border between stage and book action, were sung in both Norwegin And English.

My experience with this, is that it broke a theatrical illusion for me. Theatre like this is not a dokumentary, and I gaot annoyed by what I experinced as a distrust in the audience to be able to suspend disbelief.

I'm not saying that Cabaret and this WSS are completely prallell situations, but I do think both are attmepts at bringing on some sense of authenticity the pieces don't need in this form to be taken seriously.

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