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03 Bbg Decode

03 Bbg Decode

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Published by geishanoir

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Published by: geishanoir on Nov 14, 2009
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01/07/2013

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44
DECODING DON JUAN’S SEX LIFE:USING CONSPECTUS TO CLARIFY THE BURLADOR’SCHARACTER OBJECTIVE, STRATEGY, AND THROUGH-LINE
Staging Don Juan’s sex life is, quite literally, the first problem that the firstDon Juan play poses its translators. The problem is sticky, unavoidable, andhuge, especially for translators working in the United States. Both the
 Burlador
and
Tan largo
open with a man and a woman onstage in a late-night rendezvous,consummating a new level of intimacy in their relationship. Does that mean the
comedia
’s inciting incident starts with sex? The plot proceeds to carry Don Juanfrom seduction to seduction, tricking a series of women (and men) withpassionate intensity. Does that make libido the inner fire that drives theBurlador from
burla
to
burla
, setting his agenda and spelling out his strategy forachieving it? The play’s spectacular climax includes passing references to women who’ve been wronged. Does that mark Don Juan as a sex criminal, damned forletting his sex life get completely out of control?In this chapter, three cords of inquiry twine together to give translators atthe end of their rope a revolutionary new grip on answering these questions.
 
Conspectus – the process of studying the play through a succession of translators’ eyes – provides a tool for identifying problematic sites where sexgets involved in the action and hammering out revolutionary new perspectiveson what these sites mean for playing the role of the Burlador.
 
Synoptic treatment – a body of work six translations big, representing what istraditionally the most “literal” approach to reproducing the
 Burlador de Sevilla
in English – supplies a territory for Conspectus to excavate that’sarguably the deepest, widest, and richest grounds ever staked out for studyingany 
comedia
and for solving the challenges that Golden Age drama poses forperformance today.
 
Decoding – the practice of unlocking every performance effect that’sembedded within the
 Burlador
and
Tan largo
’s performance score, retrievingall the stagecraft buried in the Spanish script – contributes the translationtechnique that Conspectus uses to dig new insights out of Synoptic territory.
 
45
Held together by these cords of inquiry, this investigation into staging sexfollows the following trajectory:
 
The beginning of the chapter, “Stakes,” examines the consequences of makingsex the driving force behind Don Juan’s story, particularly for reviving theBurlador in the United States. Michael Kidd’s translation of the
comedia
,completed in the US in 2004 and premiered in Toronto later that year,provides a cautionary example of the warped and diminished dramaticexperience that results when the Burlador
 
from Sevilla becomes the sex-driven, sex-dominated, and sex-damned Ladykiller of Seville.
 
The middle of the chapter, “Location and Dislocation,” adapts strategiesrecently developed to clarify sexual relationships in Shakespearean comedy tothe task of decisively identifying (for the first time in translation history)places where sexual activity takes center stage in the
 Burlador
and
Tan largo
,and places where sex does
not 
sit in the
comedia
’s driver-seat. Textual andstructural analysis of three representative sites – the play’s inciting incident,Don Juan’s
inclinación
soliloquy, and Catalinón’s three invocations of theunusual verb
 forçar
– assemble conclusive evidence that sex plays anemphatically secondary role in the first Don Juan play.
 
The ending of the chapter, “New Ways to Play the Burlador,” converts thechapter’s analytical finding that sex is
not 
a driving force in Don Juan’scharacterization into practical information that actors can use.Reexamination of the 17
th
-century script demonstrates the importance of mirroring and identity exploration for the first Don Juan’s performance, andproduces model translations of critical passages for putting that revolutionary rediscovery of the character onstage.This method of inquiry hauls a mother-lode of stageworthy mettle to thesurface of the first Don Juan – findings that revolutionize the translation of DonJuan’s character objective, character strategy, and character through-line. Whatdrives the Burlador, this investigation documents, is delight in seduction (notsex), a boundless interest in finding the festering secrets in other people’s livesand arranging a salutary airing for them. The strategy that he characteristically deploys to fulfill his objective, this interrogation determines, is mirroring (not
 
46
sexual conquest), the dynamically actorly practice of reflecting the inner lives andouter mannerisms of the people he’s involving in a
burla
. The through-line thatconnects the arc of his action from start to finish, driving him ultimately into theStatue’s arms, this excavation uncovers, is an identity quest (not a quest forsexual fulfillment), a virtuoso exploration of what it means to be human thatcarries Don Juan from the role of “v n (h) o m b r e s i (n) n o m b r e,” throughthe role of “Burlador,” and into the role of championing
valor
, without everstopping to search and correct his own internal
ser
[fundamental human being].These sweeping results spring from specifically-grounded research. Assembling a Conspectus on translating one verb into English, for example – thesparingly used, critically-positioned verb
 forçar
– clearly diagnoses an elusiveproblem in re-producing the
 Burlador
and
Tan largo
’s stageworthiness:translation’s tendency to mistake what the play has to say about sex. Assessingthe performance impact of 
 forçar
provides a vantage point for viewing theconsequences of translator squeamishness that suppresses sex in the play,translator eagerness that overblows the role of sex in the play, and translatorpositions between those extremes that wonder what to make of sex in the play.The resonant juncture in the dramaturgy marked by 
 forçar
acts as a case study toclarify the dynamo that drives the
 Burlador
and
Tan largo
(i.e., seduction), andto suggest new techniques for putting the life of this play onstage in English (e.g.,through physically realizing Don Juan’s role as other people’s mirror, andthrough re-producing the Burlador’s own identity quest as a unifying arc in the whole play’s performance).From the chapter’s site-specific case studies of 
 forçar
,
inclinación
, and the
comedia
’s inciting incident, the outline of a new art for making the first Don Juanaccessible in the US today begins to emerge. It even becomes possible to suggest ways of reinvigorating the production of other Golden Age dramas throughConspectus findings about the
 Burlador
and
Tan largo
.

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