Day 24 Ma Femme, Ma Blonde, et Ma Roulotte
Bringing an Off-Broadway musical hit to a brand-new audience
Working on a musical that is to be presented in a foreign language can be an exciting, though often challenging experience. How can you make a musical that was originally written in English have the same impact for audiences in French or Spanish? Translation is especially difficult with song lyrics, which have a very specific rhythm tied to the music.?
By opening up to the rest of the world, a musical can reach a much larger audience. It can extend the life of a show by weeks, months or even years. It can help raise the profile and prestige of the original work, and serve as an ambassador to other countries with cultures different from our own.?
Our work on “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is a case in point. When I and my colleagues, David Laurin and Patrick Olafson, began work on bringing this low-brow comedy set in Florida to a French-speaking Montreal audience, we were confident that we could bring all the flavor of the original to the Quebecois version. It’s a thrill to be able to share the results with everyone at NYMF 2011.?
I used to think that translation was about words. Having now worked on several English-language musicals that I presented in French, I no longer use words like “translation”. I talk about “adaptation” and use expressions like “cultural equivalents”. You can’t simply translate words; you have to use local ideas and concepts that will help the target audience to understand.?
With musical theatre in translation, who says you can’t change the world??
To buy tickets or to learn more about Ma Femme, Ma Blonde, et Ma Roulotte go to www.nymf.org/mafemme or call 212-352-3101