Resistance, Productive Reception and the Metonymies of Translation: Drama Translation in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore
Gilbert C. F. Fong (Department of Translation, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
The staging of foreign plays has been very popular in the Greater China Region since modern Western theatre was first introduced into China around the turn of the 20th century. In Hong Kong, for instance, more than half of the stage plays are translated, mostly from Europe and America. The paper proposes to study the different strategies of drama translation in four Chinese-speaking communities, namely, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore in terms of selection, faithfulness, and performance, and to consider them as reflections of local realities in their varying responses to foreign culture.
With different histories and socio-political backgrounds and systems, each of the above-mentioned regions has evolved and adopted its own strategy of translation suitable to its needs, dictated by political power or commanded by market or aesthetic concerns. Mainland China, with its political demand for national form, prefers synthesizing the foreign with the domestic, i.e., by way of a veiled resistance. Hong Kong, being less political, is more driven by market and artistic forces. In Singapore, because of its tri-lingual make-up, drama is closely related to nationhood and language issues. And Taiwan becomes increasingly vocal with its own brand of strident regionalism, especially with the rendering of foreign plays into the Minnan dialect.
The paper helps us to acquire a better understanding of Chinese-language theatre and its development. More importantly, it will also challenge established definitions of translation, provide new insights into its nature and applications (particularly in its metonymic aspects of connection and context), and probe into the complexity of culture transfer, proving that “in-between ness” can be a source of inspiration and innovation.