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July 15, 2012
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v2.1 Reference

Dramatic Licence

Translating Theatre from One Official Language to the Other in Canada

By Louise Ladouceur
Foreword by E.D. Blodgett, Translated by Richard Lebeau

Translation is tricky business. The translator has to transform the foreign to the familiar while moving and pleasing his or her audience. Louise Ladouceur knows theatre from a multi-dimensional perspective that gives her research a particular authority as she moves between two of the dominant cultures of Canada: French and English. Through the analysis of six plays from each linguistic repertoire, written and translated between 1961 and 2000, her award-winning book compares the complexities of a translation process shaped by the power struggle between Canada's two official languages. The winner of the Prix Gabrielle-Roy and the Ann Saddlemyer Book Award, Dramatic Licence addresses issues important to scholars and students of Translation Studies, Canadian Literature and Theatre Studies, as well as theatre practitioners and translators. The University of Alberta Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada, through the National Translation Program for Book Publishing, for our translation activities.

About the Authors

Louise Ladouceur is Professor at the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean, Edmonton, Alberta, where she is in charge of the Theatre Studies Program and the theatre company Théâtre au Pluriel. Richard Lebeau is a translator who currently lives in Edmonton. E.D. Blodgett (1935-2018) published numerous books of poetry as well as diverse criticism and literary translations. He was Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta. He won the Governor General's Award twice, for poetry and translation. From 2007 to 2009 he was Edmonton's Poet Laureate.


"Dramatic Licence, which was originally published in French in 2005 and has been translated by Richard Lebeau, runs a fine-tooth comb over 12 plays - six that went from English into French, and six the other way - from the past 50 years, including works by Michel Tremblay and Edmonton's own Brad Fraser. What Ladouceur discovered was that all of her samples underwent significant changes along the way. Sometimes references to specific street names or cultural figures were erased; sometimes the entire tone of the play was altered to make it more palatable for the new audiences.... Dramatic Licence is a valuable resource for anyone interested in issues of translation, Québécois culture, or Canadian theatre in general." Michael Hingston, Edmonton Journal, October 7, 2012

"Dramatic Licence shows the complexity that often comes with translation, and keeping the original power of the words. Studying many plays written throughout the second half of the twentieth century, Dramatic Licence is a strong addition to any language studies or theatre studies collection, highly recommended." The Midwest Book Review, The Language Studies Shelf

"Perhaps the most salient feature of translating, says Ladouceur (theater and translation, U. of Alberta-Saint-Jean), is that drama in French is invariably from Quebec, and so considered Québécois, whereas drama in English is considered Canadian. She looks at literary translation in Canada, from one stage to the other, translating for the stage, descriptive analyses of the French repertoire translated into English and the English repertoire translated into French, and a comparison of the repertoires in translation." Book News Inc., 2013

Although the study focuses on the unique situation of translating drama between two official languages, its well-thought-out methodological framework makes it applicable to other contexts as well.... Ladouceur's excellent analysis is divided into six chapters.... All in all, Ladouceur's book is a highly inspiring and thought-provoking study of theatre translation in a specific context with two official languages. The analysis is very well conducted and summaries help the reader to see the wood for the trees. The study is essential reading for anyone interested in theatre translation and translation of literary works." Sirkku Aaltonen, Target 25:3, 2013

"The sixty-two introductory pages demonstrate the impeccable care with which Ladouceur has approached not only her research, but also her explanations for the reader. While the discipline of translation studies has a broad following, its particular problematics applied to theatre are less well known; however, anyone with an interest in the area will find in this book a rock-solid introduction to build on. Ladouceur has also given an invaluable context enabling one to understand the highly detailed analysis that follows through the rest of the book.... Ladouceur's superb scholarship will now be able to inspire a broader range of students and scholars of translation, theatre, and Canadian Studies." Glen Nichols, Canadian Theatre Review, Fall 2013

"[A serious meditation] about the impact that translations have on texts, as well as the forces that influence those translations. It fills an important gap in terms of the history of translating theatre in Canada. Statistical analysis is woven together with a narrative history of theatre translation in Ladouceur's book, and she provides a number of close readings of translations and adaptations of plays from one language into the other. Also invaluable is the exhaustive bibliography of Canadian plays in translation, complete with production history [T]his book should appeal to anyone with an interest in Canadian literary and cultural history."—Lee Skallerup Bessette, Canadian Literature

9780888645388 : dramatic-licence-ladouceur-lebeau-blodgett
Paperback / softback
300 Pages
$38.99 USD

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