My role is all about creating an experience that takes the audience on a journey whilst always allowing them to embrace the Welsh language.
Sibrwd (which translates as Whisper in English) is an app that offers an English synopsis of the performance. A WiFi connection links to a personal mobile device, and during the performance listeners are able to access a detailed synopsis of the play. An important element is that it allows both non-Welsh speakers and Welsh learners to access the performance either through audio, text or both.
As the Sibrwd Dramaturg, my role is to write the cues for this translation and to also implement and operate them during the rehearsals and performance. One requirement is to be a part of the rehearsal process and follow the journey, constantly adapting the scripted translation. Then, recording the cues with an actor, before inputting them into a specific system. This is operated in the rehearsals, through the tech period, and all the way up to the last performance.
It’s a hugely dramaturgical role – and by that I mean that it isn’t enough to just present something to the rhythmical pressing of the space bar. It’s about adapting the text in order to suit the changing perspectives, intentions and meanings of the performance. This isn’t a secondary process, as it’s integral to ensuring that the spirit of the performance is enriched through the translation.
You have to be constantly alert because it’s an organic process. Any new work is adaptable and changeable all the time, and Sibrwd has to be just as organic and fluid. The performance and Sibrwd have to work alongside each other, like two trains travelling on parallel lines – not racing against each other but heading towards the same destination.
Without spoiling the plot, I can say that the mood of the play is energetic and hopeful and, at times, solemn and tragic. It’s important, therefore, to reflect this in the spirit of Sibrwd. One translation is never the same as the previous version. It’s what the scholar Walter Benjamin refers to as the ‘pure language’; that which transcends words.
It’s an absolute joy and a privilege to work on this production. There’s a sense of collectiveness, particularly when the subject matter is so relatable and something that affects every single one of us. Working on Sibrwd enhances this collectivity.