Interview with Manuel Vieites

Entrevista con Manuel VieitesManuel Vieites has a long trajectory alternating theatrical practice, as director and actor, with theatre research. He has been instrumental in the development of training spaces for practitioners and educators, culminating with the establishment of the Escola Superior de Arte Dramático (Galician School of Dramatic Art) in 2005, the first third-level educational institution in the Galician context.

After his visit to Cork for the Symposium Translation, Language and Performance on the Galician Stage,  we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Manuel, ti levas moito tempo investigando sobre o teatro en Galicia; por que pensas que os textos irlandeses teñen tanto éxito na escena galega?

Manuel, you have been carrying out research on drama in Galicia for a long time; why do you think Irish texts are so successful in the Galician scene?

A cousa ben de tempo atrás, pois Irlanda sempre foi en Galicia un país irmán, unha relación fraternal en boa medida promovida polos primeiros historiadores que falaron do pasado celta de Galicia, e logo por poetas que cantaron a Breogán, e despois por xentes das Irmandades da Fala que viron no Movemento Dramático Angloirlandés, no Abbey Theatre, un exemplo a seguir para ter un teatro nacional en Galicia. Por outra banda entre os dous países hai bastantes semellanzas, pois teñen elementos comúns, tanto na configuración socioeconómica (a base agraria) como antropolóxica e cultural. Cando estaba lendo hai anos Riders to the sea de John Millington Synge, non podía deixar de pensar na nosa Costa da Morte. Irlanda exerce por todo iso unha atracción especial nas galegas e nos galegos, ao mellor porque os irlandeses forman parte da nosa primeira diáspora, cando Ith e Mil chegan ás terras de Irlanda.

It all started a long time ago, since Ireland has always been a brother country for Galicia, a brotherly relationship largely promoted by the first historians who spoke about Galicia’s Celtic past and then by poets who sang to Breoghan, and by the people of the Irmandades da Fala who saw in the Anglo-irish Dramatic Movement, in the Abbey Theatre, an example to follow to have a national theatre in Galicia. Besides, there are quite a few similarities between the two countries, as they have common elements in both their socioeconomic configuration (the agrarian foundations) and their antropological and cultural composition. When, years ago, I was reading Riders to the sea, by John Milington Synge, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Costa da Morte. Due to all this, Ireland exerts a special attraction in Galician men and women, perhaps because Irish people were part of our first diaspora, when Ith and Mil arrived to Irish lands.

Ademais da túa reveladora panorámica sobre os estudos teatrais en Galicia, durante o simposio ofreciches tamén un obradoiro de tradución. Que che parece máis interesante da tradución de textos irlandeses ao galego? Tes algunha recomendación para os estudantes que se queiran dedicar á tradución de textos dramáticos?

Apart from your eye-opening overview about Drama Studies in Galicia, during the Symposium you also offered a translation workshop. What do you find most interesting about the translation of Irish texts into Galician? Do you have any recommendations for students who want to translate dramatic texts professionally?

Para min traducir determinados autores, coma Synge, supón un reto porque obriga a facer un exercicio de adecuación textual que por veces supón retorcer a lingua, e facela avanzar, recuperando vocabulario en desuso, ou recreando formas de falar que non están presentes na comunicación cotiá. Por outra banda están todas as cuestións culturais que son especialmente interesantes. Mentres traducía The Pillowman de Martin McDonagh, malia ser el un autor nacido en Londres que escribe en inglés, non deixaba de pensar na tradición oral que ambos pobos comparten, e que mantén tantas semellanzas. Tamén mentres traducía Deirdre of the sorrrows non deixaba de pensar na saudade, un sentimento compartido. Para os estudantes que queiran traducir textos dramáticos non deixaría de lembrar que o texto é un texto dito, un texto que emite un personaxe, polo que hai que traducir “actos de fala”. Por iso resulta importante ter en conta aquel libro de Austin How to Do Things with Words (1962) e a corrente de estudos que inaugura, a veces referida como “pragmática da comunicación”.

For me, translating certain authors, such as Synge, is a challenge because it forces you to do an exercise in textual adaptation which, sometimes, means that you have to twist the language, make it advance by recovering vocabulary fallen into disuse or by recreating ways of speaking that are not present in day to day communication. Besides, we have a lot of cultural matters that are especially interesting. While I was translating The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh, even though he is an author born in London who writes in English I couldn’t stop thinking about the oral tradition which both peoples share and which maintains so many similarities. Also, while I was translating Deirdre of the Sorrows I couldn’t stop thinking about saudade, a shared feeling. To the students who want to translate dramatic texts I would remind that the text is a recited text, a text that is emitted by a character, which means we have to translate “speech acts”. That is why it is important to bear in mind that book by Austin called How to Do Things with Words (1962) and the trend of studies it inaugurated, sometimes referred to as “communication pragmatics.”

Ti xa coñecías Irlanda pero, pensas que estes días que pasaches en Cork mudou a túa visión sobre os textos irlandeses? E ao revés, pensas que a túa experiencia con textos irlandeses mudou a visión (ou as expectativas) que tiñas de Irlanda?

You knew Ireland already, but do you think these days you spent in Cork changed your view about Irish texts? And, the other way round, do you think your experience with Irish texts changed your perception (or your expectations) about Ireland?

A miña estadía en Corcaigh [“Cork” en inglés significa cortiza, “Corcaigh” significa xunqueira, o que nos leva á tradución da toponimia e ás súas aberracións; “Killarney” non significa nada, mentres que “Cill Airne” si, a igrexa dos abruñeiros] foi moi estimulante por tantas propostas interesantes que escoitei e das que tanto aprendín. O máis estimulante foron as conversas e debates entre as persoas participantes o que sempre permite ampliar a perspectiva e a veces acceder a outras visións que non se tiñan. Galicia é un país en construción, como o foi Irlanda e como o segue sendo, polo que traballar con produtos culturais sempre axuda a comprender outras realidades que poden axudar a explicar a propia.

My stay in Corcaigh [“Cork” in English is a type of tree bark, and “Corcaigh” means bog, which leads us to the translation of toponimy and its abominations; “Killarney” doesn’t mean anything, whereas “Cill Airne” does, the church of sloes] was very stimulating thanks to the many interesting suggestions I heard and from which I learnt so much. The most stimulating thing were the conversations and discussions among the participants, which always help to widen one’s perspective and sometimes lead to other views which weren’t there before. Galicia is a country in construction, like Ireland was and still is, so working with cultural products always helps to understand other realities which may help explain one’s own.

Como sabes, na Universidade de Cork temos alumnos que estudan galego que devecen por descubrir novas palabras curiosas. Cales son as túas palabras máis queridas en galego?

As you know, in University College Cork we have students who study Galician and are eager to discover new interesting words. What are your most loved words in Galician?

Todos eses nomes que se van perdendo, e da que ao mellor a miña xeración é a última en atoparlles sentido: carqueixa, estadullo, souto, estrobo, castiñeira, aba, cómaro, fabal, rasa, adival, limpeiro, loro, rula, laverca, sobreira, abruñeiro…, palabras que refiren unha cultura agraria que desaparece, unha cultura que lle daba sentido á lingua nosa. E moitas máis. Hai anos unha alumna da Escola Superior de Arte Dramática de Galicia fixo un exercicio de interpretación que consistía nun monólogo no que falaba das palabras do seu avó, as palabras do mundo do avó, un labrego medio mariñeiro. Un mundo de palabras que ía debullando como se estivese abrindo un dicionario. Unha experiencia fascinante.

All those nouns we are losing, which my generation might be the last to find a meaning in: carqueixa, estadullo, souto, estrobo, castiñeira, aba, cómaro, fabal, rasa, adival, limpeiro, loro, rula, laverca, sobreira, abruñeiro…, words referring to an agrarian culture which is disappearing, a culture that gave meaning to the language that’s ours. And many more. Years ago a girl from the Escola Superior de Arte Dramática de Galicia (Galician School of Dramatic Art) did an interpreting exercise consisting of a monologue in which she spoke about her grandad’s words, the words of her grandad’s world, a farmer part sailor. A world of words that she started uncovering as if opening a dictionary. A fascinating experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *