PEN World Voices Festival presents Playing with Fire: Theater in Translation as Resistance Agnes Walder, Martin Puchner, Jeremy Tiang, Michael Eskin

About This Show

Plays have an aliveness and immediacy of impact that allow them to palpably reimagine and, thus, shape reality. In many locations, theater has become a site of resistance and transformation. The dearth of translated plays in this country, therefore, amounts to occluding an important aspect of the global ethical sociopolitical conversation. What are we missing? Critic and translator Michael Eskin will reflect on translating Éloge de la faiblesse (In Praise of Weakness) by severely disabled original philosopher Alexandre Jollien – a Socratic play devised, among other things, as both an act of resistance to our society’s discourse on disability and a call to redefining what it means to be “normal” and/or “different.” Poet and translator Agnes Walder will reflect on translating Tyrtaeus: A Tragedy by Holocaust victim Lajos Walder. Written in Hungary in the early 1940s in response to Nazi occupation, it was rediscovered in 1988 and published in the U.S. for the first time in 2017. Playwright and translator Jeremy Tiang will speak about the challenges of translating work from the Chinese-speaking world, whose political contexts and modes of resistance may not be as familiar to western audiences. Moderated by Martin Puchner.

Agnes Walder is a poet and the English translator of the plays and poetry of her late father, Lajos Walder – who was killed in the Holocaust. She was born in Budapest, Hungary. As a thirteen year old, she escaped with her family during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Agnes lives in Sydney, Australia. She has two sons and six grandchildren.

Martin Puchner is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. His most recent book, The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization, tells the story of literature from clay tablets to the Internet.
Photo Credit: Johannes Marburg

Jeremy Tiang translates plays and novels from Chinese, and is the recipient of a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship. He is also a playwright and the author of the novel State of Emergency.
Photo Credit: Oliver Rockwell

Michael Eskin is a cofounder of Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc. His numerous books include Poetic Affairs, The DNA of Prejudice, and Yoga for the Mind. His translations have appeared in The New Yorker, World Literature Today, and elsewhere.
Photo Credit: Kathrin Stengel

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 7pm

Free with RSVP

Estimated Runtime
90 minutes

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