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Margherita Laera

ECR Keynote Speaker
Be My Guest? Practicing Reciprocal Hospitality Through Theatre Translation  
 
This paper mobilises the notion of hospitality as a metaphor to establish theatre translation as an ethical and political practice that can contribute to a more inclusive and equal world on and off our stagesIn the first part of the talkI draw a comparison between how people welcome guests, how nationhost migrants and refugees, and how theatre-makers engage with translated plays. Evaluating models of cultural interaction and hospitality, I discuss the assimilationist, communitarian, and cosmopolitan approachesthen draw on Derrida’s understanding of hospitality as an aporiaone can only welcome guests if one is the owner of the house; however, true, unconditional hospitality would undermine the distinction between self and other, between what is mine and what is yours. Returning more specifically how to host foreign plays, I explore the notion of ‘creolization’ – borrowed from social sciences – as a possible metaphor for a kind of hospitality that is reciprocal, and where no one can claim to be the exclusive owner of the house. I argue that when staging a play in translation, practitioners do not only act as hosts of a foreign text, but also inhabit it as guests and are hosted by itI propose that the practice of reciprocal hospitality, as constitutive of stage translation, is a powerful reminder that we are always already made of the stories of others. In the second part of the talk, I apply this thinking to the context of Drama education in British secondary schools. My AHRC-funded public engagement and impact project, Performing International Plays (PIP)proposes to create learning and teaching resources to encourage more teachers and students of Drama to engage with plays in translation as part of the GCSE, A Level and BTEC curricula. Through collaboration with Drama teachers, we hope to promote inclusive learning environments that disrupt established power dynamics between monolingual British students and English as an Additional Language students. Who is hosting whom – and whose home is it? 
 
Dr Margherita Laera is a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent, Canterbury, where she is co-Director of the European Theatre Research Network. Margherita is the Online Editor of Theatre Topics and Theatre JournalShe has published widely on Italian theatre, theatre translation and adaptation in edited collections and scholarly journals, such as Contemporary Theatre ReviewModern Drama and Performance Research. She is the author of the forthcoming book Theatre & Translation (Red Globe Press, 2019) and of Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy (Peter Lang, 2013). Margherita edited Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (Bloomsbury, 2014) and London: Brexit Stage Left (Cue Press, 2019). She has recently completed an AHRC Leadership Fellowship with a project entitled ‘Translation, Adaptation, Otherness’ (2016–19), for which she received the TaPRA Early Career Research Prize in 2018. Her current research is about multilingual theatre; contemporary theatre translation practices in the European Union; and engaging secondary school students with plays in translation. She regularly translates plays from English to Italian and vice versa.