Translation, theatre practice, and the jazz metaphor | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1753-6421
  • E-ISSN: 1753-643X



This article assumes a position that sees translation – the interlingual transposition of languages – and adaptation – the (sometimes) interlingual (and sometimes) intersemiotic textual practice as one process despite their separate histories, theories and fields of study. The notion of adaptation is invoked all too often by those commissioning translations as a pejorative, a slur on a (target) text’s authenticity and integrity while for the commissioners of adaptations, translation remains a moniker for either interlingual transposition or a metaphor for supposed one-to-one correspondences of words, scenes, ideas and themes. Jazz, like translation, remains a minority interest, something that operates on the fringes of its more mainstream twin (popular music/literature). But its true power lies in its ability to subvert, invert, move, adapt, but always move forward and change. In this sense, it provides a convenient and creative way to view translation – as a performance on a source, and more specifically a certain kind of performance – jazz. In seeing the relationship between the source and the target, the original text/s and its/their newly forged resultant whole, as essentially dialogic and responsive, adaptation and translation can be viewed as performances on their sources. Just as actors might seek to engage with a text, find a connection with it, and perform it in a personal way that reflects their creative response to that text, so too we can begin to see the work of translators and adaptors beyond the world and scope of theatre practice.


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