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Found in Translation: The people behind the supertitles

Translating international productions keeps you on your toes. We spoke with Supertitle Translator and Operator, Golda Fischer just before the start of this year's Festival.

'I've always had a love for languages and I grew up bi or tri-lingually so I've always sort of been a translator. It wasn't something that I neccessarily chose to do it just sort of happens when you grow up with different languages. So I grew up with German, Hungarian and English. Then I went on to study Italian and French and Dutch, and now I'm learning Russian. So it's one of those things that kept evolving. I don't think there was a point where I decided "I'm going to be a translator" it sort of chose me.'

'I love the fact that I can use translation in theatre. The toughest thing is actually getting a complete script. What often happens with a theatre production, especially when they are new pieces, is that the piece has developed since the version that we get and the script that we have. So we come to rehearsal and we see that the actors are actually not saying what we expect them to say and we have to re-write large chunks of the titles.'

'The recording is really really important because of the pacing of the thing. So if I only have a script I have no idea of how fast the thing is going or where the pauses are so I don't know how to pace the titles unless I have a recording. So we ask for a script and we ask for a recording. Then, depending on the language, I either do a complete translation of the script. If it's a language that I know very well then I might not do a complete translation and I might start writing the titles immediately because titles are not a complete translation they are a summary and a guide. They are not word for word what is going on on the stage simply because if we did that you would only be reading you would have no time to look at what is happening. Much like subtitling in films actually.'

'So if it's a language I know then I will look at the script, I will mark my cue points and say "I want the first slide here, I want the second slide here, I need a blank, here is the next slide" and so on - then I will write them. If it's a language I'm not so confident in then I will get a full translation of the script and then I will mark my cue points and working with that translation I will shorten it and write my slides.'

'I'm really looking forward to Meine faire Dame, the production by [Christoph] Marthaler (Director) because first of all I'm from Germany and I used to go to his productions when I lived in Hamburg. The piece was pretty crazy. It's a piece about language, it's a piece about deconstructing language - they come out with all kinds of nonsense on stage. But it keeps us on our toes and that's also what's fun about it.'

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