Cia Elevador de Teatro Panorâmico talk about translating As You Like It

Posted to General with 1 Comment on 26.09.12 by Sarah Ellis

The Brazilian theatre group Cia Elevador de Teatro Panorâmico was founded in 2000 by their artistic director Marcelo Lazzaratto. Ten years later the group undertook the translation and performance of As You Like It. The following is taken from an interview given on 21 June 2011 when their translation was completed and the show was playing at the company’s theatre. The interview appears as transcribed in the book of their translation, published by Balão Editorial. At the interview was Marcelo Lazzaratto (actor and director), and the actors Carolina Fabri, Gabriel Miziara and Pedro Haddad                                                                                                                                               

How did the translation process begin?
ML: ‘…as a study and research process. I believe that the difference between a theatre group like ours and a more commercial one is exactly this: we take some time. In a commercial staging, the cast is picked up, the play is rehearsed and right after it goes to stage: our time runs in a different pace. We had the time to complete this process.’

How long did it take it to finish it?
M.L.: ‘The whole process took about a year, but I believe we’ve spent 8 months working specifically with the text.’
C.F.: ‘…it was all done by us.’

Were any of you translators before this experience?
M.L.: ‘Not with theatre. Everyone had experiences with translating, but not a whole play.’
G.M.: ‘For the play Ponto Zero [Ground zero], we translated a few things. For example, we took La Chinoise, by Godard, which didn’t have a Portuguese translation, and transcribed the film, and later translated it.’

And what was the biggest difference, and which new difficulties arrived, when translating as a group?
M.L.: ‘This material came to the group that debated everything, line by line… It wasn’t easy! We had to deal with everything: choices, moods, and visions. ‘
C.F.: ‘We discussed every line, every comma. So, by the time we had to memorize, it felt really organic.’

Do you have a different relationship with this work?
G.M.: ‘Yeah, and during the process of studying it, we took different versions of it, translated by others, and experimented with those characters.’
M.L.: ‘Translating is making options. Obviously. But they’re not easy to make, because one sentence leads to different paths, according to the option of a synonym done before, that means, in reality, the same thing, but that in the next sentence, or in the next reply, is more or less adequate and offers another path of senses. This new path determines things outside the sentence, for example, even the characterization of a character.’

Do you believe that your translation has a tendency to have a longer life in the market?
M.L.: ‘I believe so, because Shakespeare is there. We didn’t mess with him, didn’t try to transform him. We only made culture adaptations that were completely pertinent.’
C.F.: ‘Because the original one didn’t make any sense in our time and culture.’
M.L.: ‘Maybe it would be something that Shakespeare would write if he lived nowadays.’

Still in this subject of doubles: almost every actor plays two or more characters in your production. Do you think that Shakespeare aimed this as he wrote?
M.L.: ‘Yes, some cases are famous. It is almost certain that the actor that played Cordelia in King Lear also performed the Fool…. That’s the beauty in Shakespeare. Pure theatre: the actor is something one minute, and a whole different thing the other.’
C.F.: ‘And gains us over.’

It’s a shame that this transformation of a character into another is not perceptible in the text, because it is very moving to the audience…
C.F.: ‘But the text is a work of art meant to become another: the staging. This is our version, but another company can discover another aspect.’

During the translation, the staging was always on your mind?
C.F.: ‘I guess that’s inevitable, because everyone in the translation group, from the beginning, are actors. So, being actors translating a theatre play, it is almost impossible not to think about the staging.’
P.H.: ‘Even if it is just picturing yourself saying that line on scene.’
M.L.: ‘We didn’t necessarily think about the staging, but in the enacting.’

Are you satisfied with the results?
Everyone: ‘Yes!’
M.L.: ‘When I compare our translation with the others, I think ours is indeed really good. It has fluency, it’s intelligible, not simplistic. It’s not a simplified version.’

Would you repeat this translation experience with another text?
M.L.: ‘Definitely!’
C.F.: ‘It makes us feel that’s the best way to go.’

Talking about the text, which of the characters was the most difficult to translate?
C.F.: ‘The Fool! … There is this long part where he talks about the seven causes of quarrel, with specific names to each one. That was… hard.’

With so much, how long does the performance takes?
C.F.: I believe that about 3 hours. This Fool’s scene, for example, has to be long, so that Rosalind has the time to change. He gains time for the other actor – genius.

One last question to wrap it up: what’s the feeling of seeing your text, your translation, to which you’ve dedicated so much work and time, being published?
P.H.: ‘It’s the feeling that our work we’ll reach farther, democratizing our research, our artistic discoveries. What before was only divulged on the stage, will be able now to reach new audiences and serves as creative material for others.’

For more information about Cia Elevador de Teatro Panorâmico visit:


  • Claudio Motta

    I have saw this PLAY, “AS YOU LIKE IT”, at the Theater they have – It is a Elizabethan one, small, but very enjoyable. The text is very modern and the Play is terrific. The whole work (translation and the PLAY itself) is a Great Job, It is a big pleasure to see a Shakespeare’s play translate into Portuguese with young actors who liked so much acting.

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