Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Book Meme Question #3

What was the last book you bought?

The Plays of Anton Chekhov, translated by Paul Schmidt. I purchased this volume for the Directing class I took over the Fall and Winter. Another classmate directed a scene from "Uncle Vanya" and I really loved the translation. I went to the library (here's looking at you, Joe!), perused it thoroughly and bought it the next week. I love Chekhov almost as much as I love Shakespeare, but most translations of his plays are too academic for my taste. This guy got it right; his translation of these plays are active and wonderful to work with.

Sometime in the future I'll treat y'all to my full-on rant on how high school English teachers are ruining theater in this country, but I'll leave you with this thought: plays were meant to be seen and heard, not read. Paul Schmidt clearly understands that, which is why this book is now included in my theatrical library.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Well, of course, Roman "closet drama" was written as a literary exercise meant to be circulated and read, not produced for the stage. And I expect there are other similar anomalies. But your point is well taken.

My high school Brit lit teacher did us a wonderful service when we actually read The Rivals out loud in class. We just came in every day for a week or so and divided up parts. I have a wretched time understanding comedy on the page, and hearing it out loud, even without staging, was a big help. Plus it was just plain fun. It was one of the best ways to communicate "these people are not that different from you" that I've seen.

As far as bad translations of Chekhov go... do the words "awwww, baloney" ring a bell?