We are delighted to have teamed up with Mumbai Theatre Company, Rage Productions with support from the British Council for a rehearsed reading of Translations.
This partnership brought Indian and Irish theatre artists together to explore themes of colonialism, communication, and language. The hope had been pre-Covid to have the workshops in Mumbai and Belfast in person but due to the ongoing pandemic these exciting workshops were carried out online.
'There's a startling moment midway through Translations when the young English officer Yolland reflects to his friend and guide Owen how he was supposed to have joined the East India Company and should have ended up in Bombay rather than looking wistfully over the silvery sands of the Tra Bhan and falling in love in Ballybeg. The poetic Yolland is doomed in Ireland. Would he have been as doomed in India? He is, after all, a reluctant member of an army viewed by the local population as invasive.
India and Ireland share a history of colonisation, revolutions and partitions and all that lies in the shadow of a 20th-century constructed border. India is so vast and diverse in heritage, culture and languages that Northern Ireland must seem like a quarrelling village beside it.
That's why I am immensely grateful to the British Council for funding this reading. It has been a privilege to have this chance to work with this fantastic company from Mumbai called Rage and watch our Lyric actors work closely over zoom with their actors on this textured and ever revealing masterpiece. There have been fresh discoveries in a play I know well as it is explored by these wonderful actors under the expert guidance and gentle prodding of the director, Arghya Lahiri. It’s been fascinating to see the similarities in approach and occasionally the differences.
Covid has been devastating in so many ways this past year and derailed so many theatre projects. Still, it also offered us this opportunity to connect, discuss and explore digitally for the past few months on two different continents. In both our countries we went through different waves of lockdown, worried for the health and safety of each other and always continued working via zoom together. I am immensely grateful to Padraig Cusack for introducing me to the dynamic Shernaz Patel and pointing us in the direction of the British Council grant. I also want to thank Anne Friel for allowing us to work on this powerful play in such a unique way.
The next steps will be to bring Rage to Belfast. And perhaps a real trip to Baile Beag is not out of the question, and maybe then it's finally time to bring Yolland to Mumbai.'
- Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer
'This reading came together with some species of strange magic. A collaboration between Rage and the Lyric, mooted at a literature festival in North India, casually shunted aside by a pandemic. A year later, Jimmy Fay and Shernaz Patel attempted to find common ground, a way to move forward while most of us were trapped at home, while theatres lay dark and empty. I got a phone call and I wouldn’t have even been in Mumbai to receive the call if the UK hadn’t gone into its third lockdown.
We thought we’d meet. Online. On Zoom. Read Translations – a major, legendary work by one of the world’s great dramatists. We thought we’d speak of the politics of language, of power, and of colonisation.
What we didn’t expect was the resonance across continents. Two ancient cultures, riven by doubt, invaded, tortured, still grappling with identity. Of a rough, knowing humour that survivors possess. Of ideas torn apart by religion, and by lines on a map, and by the people drawing those lines.'
- Arghya Lahiri, Director
Supported by the British Council’s Connections through Culture India-Northern Ireland programme.
This rehearsed reading in currently unavailable to the public.