Translations by Brian Friel (1981)
Theatre | Historical Drama
“The action takes place in late August 1833 at a hedge-school in the townland of Baile Beag, an Irish-speaking community in County Donegal. In a nearby field camps a recently arrived detachment of the Royal Engineers, making the first Ordnance Survey. For the purposes of cartography, the local Gaelic place names have to be recorded and rendered into English. In examining the effects of this operation on the lives of a small group, Brian Friel skillfully reveals the far-reaching personal and cultural effects of an action which is at first sight purely administrative.”
pooled ink Review:
Loved it. I highly recommend it. It’s focused on Ireland but its foundational message can be applied to nearly any conquered civilization/people…which is almost every country in existence at some point or another. I loved everything about this play, the diction, the tone, the message, the delivery. It was political without meaning to be. Friel was simply telling a historically based story and the deeper message and revelations behind it were a natural attachment.
I wrote a paper on this play in college and I loved doing the research for it, delving into the history and symbolism, and meanings, and all of that nonsense that I usually make fun of English majors for. I’m afraid delving into a proper review for this play may be far too long for a blog post so I can only hope you choose to read it for yourself, sit back, and actually think about what you just read. Think beyond the words while simultaneously investigating the words themselves. For this is a word play with as much weight in the very words as there is underneath them.
Purchase here: Translations
Recommendations: If you enjoyed this play (because I know you’re going to read it and love it) then I also recommend Friel’s play The Homeplace as well as The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh.
Meet Brian Friel!
Brian Friel is a playwright and, more recently, director of his own works from Ireland who now resides in County Donegal.