Suffice it to say that the Bellevue College drama department is brewing an eclectic, culturally resonate production of “Translations”, a drama concerning the transition from the Gaelic language to English in Ireland in 1833. Last spring, the BC drama department finished a play with similar themes, “The Foreigner.” On this subject, Tammi Doyle supplied her view that “we have a really diverse student body. It’s really important to me as a theatre artist how we show cultures. Everything from the huge culture of a country or region to the culture of a family.”
As chair of the theatre department and a director of several productions this for the 2012-2013 drama season, Doyle has done her best to bring material to the BC stage that is relevant to students and brings in to focus issues that occur worldwide as well as on campus.
The heart of “Translations” is the challenge of translating an entire culture. “Characters in the play speak one of two different languages. When they’re speaking Gaelic, they speak English with an Irish accent. When they’re speaking English, they speak English with a classic English accent,” said Doyle in regards to the important challenges of the production. “We have a really good dialect coach, Karen Jo Fairbrook. She has been working with the students once or twice a week. It’s a great new skill for actors [to] have.”
While equipping the cast with the imperative dialect skills, Carly Worden is busy composing an original score for the production, an addition that Doyle believed would enrich the enjoyment and quality of the performance. “I really wanted an original score for two reasons. One, I think theatre and music are connected. I also think the idea of connecting music to Ireland and Irish culture is really important.” The title “Translations” is taken to heart on the production team, who work together to translate the themes of the play in as many ways as possible, with costuming, lighting, acting and musical choices.
When reflecting on her decision to bring “Translations” to the BC stage, Doyle explained, “sometimes, you get a really great theme. I get really attached to great themes, but they aren’t always great plays. This is a really good play.” Doyle emphasized that “Translations” is a must-see for its fundamentally well-written script, crafted by Brian Fruel, for its good plot and great characters.
“Be prepared to be taken back in time and travel to an exciting place,” said Liz Craswell, who plays the role of Sarah in “Translations”. “She can’t speak and mostly communicates through miming. On stage, I have the tendency to restrict my movement and I become very quiet,” said Craswell in regards to rehearsing her role.
“This role has definitely challenged my physicality and helped me open up on stage,” she offered in closing. “Translations” will be shown in the Stop Gap Studio Theatre from May 16-18 and again the following weekend on May 23-25 for $10.