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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

Translations | Feb. 20-28 | Longstreet Theatre

Theatre South Carolina will present Brian Friel’s internationally-acclaimed drama "Translations" February 20-28, 2015 at Longstreet Theatre.

Theatre South Carolina


by Brian Friel
Directed by Paul Savas

February 20-28, 2015

Longstreet Theatre
1300 Greene St.

Show Times:
Friday, February 20: 8pm
Saturday, February 21: 8pm
Sunday, February 22: 3pm
Wednesday, February 25: 8pm
Thursday, February 26: 8pm
Friday, February 27: 8pm
Saturday, February 28: 3pm & 8pm

$12  |  Students
$16  |  USC Faculty/Staff, Military and Seniors 60+
$18  |  General Admission

Box Office: 777-2551
Or purchase in person at Longstreet Theatre.  Box office opens February 13. 
Box Office Hours: 12:30pm - 5:30pm, Monday - Friday

MFA Acting student Josh Jeffers is British Lt. Yolland and senior theatre major Grace Ann Roberts is Irish villager Maire.

Show times for Translations are 8pm Wednesdays through Saturdays, with additional 3pm matinees on Sunday, February 22 and Saturday, February 28.  Tickets for the production are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military personnel and seniors 60+, and $18 for the general public.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 803-777-2551 or by visiting the Longstreet Theatre box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 12:30pm-5:30pm, beginning Friday, February 13.  Longstreet Theatre is located at 1300 Greene St.

Widely considered as one of award-winning playwright Friel’s greatest works, Translations vividly portrays the struggles of a society trying to hold on to its culture and traditions in a dramatically changing world.  While that may sound like our world today, the events of this story are set in the mid-nineteenth-century, as England, in an attempt to establish common political ground with Ireland, sends British military cartographers into Irish territory with the mission of replacing Gaelic place names with English translations. Tensions between the two sides heighten, however, when a British soldier falls in love with an Irish villager, leading to an explosive clash that threatens to tear the countryside apart.  “A basic fluency in the workings of the human heart is all that’s necessary to absorb the beauties of Mr. Friel’s tender, sad and funny play about the difficulty of finding a home in the world, a person to share it with, and a name to call it by.” — The New York Times

Paul Savas, Executive and Artistic Director of The Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC, is directing the play, which he broadly sums up as “a really interesting story about people and language and change and love, and about what is important in terms of how you live your life.”  Before taking the helm at The Warehouse in 2007, Savas was an in-demand freelance director, actor, fight choreographer and educator, with career highlights including several years performing as a voicing actor with The National Theatre of the Deaf, and co-founding the Hopeful Monsters performance ensemble with, among others, celebrated playwright/actress Ellen McLaughlin.  Savas previously worked with Theatre South Carolina in 2013, serving as Fight Choreographer for King Lear.

Savas recently worked at The Warehouse with Theatre SC Co-Artistic Director Robert Richmond, who directed a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest there in 2013.  (Richmond will be at The Warehouse again February 28 - March 1, as an instructor for the “Shakespeare Boot Camp,” a two-day intensive on techniques useful in performing Shakespearean plays.) 

“This play is about how language evolves, but also what we lose in that evolution,” says Richmond, an Associate Professor in the theatre program.  “As the Irish lose their native Gaelic, they also lose their cultural identity, their history and their future.  It’s a violent act, this intrusion into an established culture.”

Richmond praises the richness of the play’s dialogue, which he says is best appreciated in musical terms.  “It’s a very aural show,” he says.  “A show you not only go to see, but, I think, you have to hear.  There are rhythms and melodies inside of the languages, it’s not just about dialects.”

A major challenge of the script is the convention that while the characters on each cultural side are “speaking” different languages — English and Gaelic — the audience hears only English.  “We’re working on the technical aspects of setting that up,” Savas says, “making sure it’s all crystal clear for the audience.  My main focus is and always has been making the thoughts behind the words clear.”

That emphasis on capturing core meaning is a signature style of the director.  “I will stage rapidly and in really broad brush strokes,” he says, “so that we can quickly get into more detailed work.  I don’t want to let my actors go without being sure that they understand everything.”

It’s just part of a personal approach he says he hopes the student actors learn from.  “I hope what they pick up in terms of how I work is the importance of understanding the thought from points ‘a’ to ‘b’ to ‘c’ to ‘d,’” he explains.  “And I hope they learn some valuable skills in terms of how to approach a piece of work in a fun and open way that really engages them to always come to the process with bold ideas to try.”

Cast in the play are graduate acting students Benjamin Roberts, Nicole Dietze, Dimitri Woods, Rachel Kuhnle, Matthew Cavender and Josh Jeffers; undergraduate theatre students Grace Ann Roberts and Wes Williams; and, guest actors Chris Cook and Park Bucker.  Graduate design students Baxter Engle (Scenic Design), Rachel Harmon (Costume Design) and Chris Patterson (Lighting Design) are bringing the nineteenth-century Irish countryside setting to life.  Sound Design is by guest artist Danielle Wilson.

“The beauty of this play is that we see how two languages interact at the same time, yet somehow actions speak louder than words,” says Richmond.   “We see how two very different societies intersect, but still share basic human emotions — love, joy, loss and pain — and through that perhaps we can celebrate what it is to be human today.”

For more information on Translations or the theatre program at the University of SC, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at