Theatre translation

From target text to target performance


  • Živa Čebulj University of Ljubljana, Slovenia



theatre translation, authorship, aspects of theatre translation, theatre practice, collaborative translatorship


The article analyses the textual changes that occur in the process of staging a performance based on a translated text. Drawing on Morini’s four types of theatre translation, namely the interlingual, intralingual, intersemiotic, and intrasemiotic aspects of theatre translation (emerging from Jakobson’s classification of translation), the article focuses on the differences between the translated text and the text spoken on the stage through the analysis of the Slovene performance of Sad Songs from the Heart of Europe by the Finnish author Kristian Smeds, translated into Slovene by Julija Potrč Šavli. The play, directed by the Finnish theatre director Jari Juutinen, was performed at the Slovene theatre Slovensko ljudsko gledališče Celje by the Slovene actress Maša Grošelj. As the author of the article participated in staging this play as a language consultant, the article provides an insight into the process, and reveals why and how the changes to the text occurred. As the analyses of the written and staged texts show, the majority of the textual changes were introduced by various agents involved in the production of the play, while some were also due to the multimodal interactions between different theatre modes (speech, scenography, sound, light, props, etc.).


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Primary sources

Smeds, Kristian. 2021. Žalostinke iz srca Evrope. Translated by Julija Potrč Šavli. Working script, language consultant’s book. Celje: SLG Celje.


Secondary sources

Aaltonen, Sirkku. 2000. Time-Sharing on Stage: Drama Translation in Theatre and Society. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Bassnett, Susan. 2014. “Variations on Translation.” In A Companion to Translation Studies, edited by Sandra Bermann and Catherine Porter, 54–66. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. DOI:

Espasa, Eva. 2000. “Performability in translation.” In Moving Target: Theatre Translation and Cultural Relocation, edited by Carole-Anne Upton, 49–62. London and New York: Routledge.

Foucault, Michel. (1969) 2016. “What is an Author?” In Modernity and Its Discontents, edited by Steven B. Smith, 299–314. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Jakobson, Roman. (1959) 1992. “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation.” In Theories of Translation, edited by Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet, 144–51. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Milohnić, Aldo. 2021. “On collective and Devised Creation in Slovenian Theatre.” Amfiteater 9 (1), 69–87. DOI:

Morini, Massimiliano. 2022. Theatre translation: Theory and Practice. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic. DOI:

Nelson, Robin. 2022. Practice as Research in the Arts (and Beyond). Principles, Processes, Contexts, Achievements. 2nd edition. London: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI:

Tarantini, Angela Tiziana. 2021. Theatre Translation: A Practice as Research Model. London: Palgrave Macmillan Cham. DOI:

Zlatnar Moe, Marija, Tanja Žigon, and Tamara Mikolič Južnič. 2019. Center and Periphery: Power Relations in the World of Translation. Ljubljana: Ljubljana University Press.



30. 11. 2023




How to Cite

Čebulj, Živa. (2023). Theatre translation: From target text to target performance. STRIDON: Journal of Studies in Translation and Interpreting, 3(2), 105-119.