Dooega drama group return with a powerful version of Friel play

Dooega drama group staged their production of Translations in Colaiste Acla on Saturday and Sunday December 29 and 30 and will perform in other venues in coming months.

Translations is a three-act play by Irish playwright Brian Friel, written in 1980. It is set in Baile Beag (Ballybeg ), a small village at the heart of 19th century agricultural Ireland. Friel has said that Translations is “a play about language and only about language”, but it deals with a wide range of issues, stretching from language and communication to Irish history and cultural imperialism.

The play is set in the quiet community of Baile Beag (later anglicised to Ballybeg ), in County Donegal in 1833. Many of the inhabitants have little experience of the world outside the village. Irish, Latin and Greek are spoken in the local hedge school. Friel uses language as a tool to highlight the problems of communication — lingual, cultural, and generational.

Both Irish and English characters in the play speak their respective languages, but it is English that is spoken by the actors. This allows the audience to understand all the languages, as if a translator were provided. However, onstage, the characters cannot comprehend each other. This is due to lack of compromise from both parties, the English and Irish, to learn the others' language, a metaphor for the wider barrier that is between the two parties.

Director Martan O Mongain delivers a quality version of this powerful play. The authentic set complements the atmospheric quality of lighting, dress and sound. The whole production induces realism and truth to the confusion of languages and culture of the time.

Dooega drama group will perform Translations in Aras Inish Gluaire, Belmullet, on January 19; in the Royal Theatre, Castlebar, on January 25; the Draiocht Theatre, Blanchardstown, Dublin, and the Library Theatre, Luton, UK on March 16 and 17.


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