From the page to the stage, French language students at DePaul saw their translations come to life this month during a visit to The Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago. It was the culmination of a project that began when director Dado Gyure approached Modern Languages Professor Clara Orban about helping with a new English translation of Eugene Ionesco’s “The Killing Game.” Orban designed two of her winter French Translation classes around the project, and on May 16 several of the students got together with Orban to see the play.
"Watching Red Orchid's production of the Ionesco translation that we helped craft with the student translators allowed us to see how our words can be transformed on stage,” Orban says. “A project like this affirms that learning another language in the United States can open all sorts of unexpected doors. Second language skills are among the most useful for our students because they allow us, literally sometimes, to translate another culture for our fellow citizens."
Ten undergraduates in the class translated the play, while four graduate students translated the lengthy preface to another Ionesco play, which contained information the actors thought might be helpful, says Orban. The graduate students were also editors of the undergraduate translations. As it turned out, Helen Gary Bishop’s 1970s translation of "The Killing Game" did not include a key "cannibals" scene, and DePaul's translation helped the actors bring back this chilling climax of the play, explains Orban, who served as editor-in-chief to provide a final reading and polishing before the translation was sent to the theater.