TETRA (Teatro e Tradução): Towards a History of Theatre Translation in Portugal, 1800-2009

Project funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (PTDC/ELT/67491/2006)

Project funded by national funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (Foundation for Science and Technology I.P.) (UID/ELT/00509/2013.)

TETRA proposes to undertake a historical and critical survey of theatre translation practice in Portugal from the nineteenth century through to the present day, considering both linguistic and intersemiotic translation, and attempting to explain their meaning, relevance and reception at a given historical and social context, focusing on processes such as “acculturation” and “interculturalism” (Patrice Pavis,1996). This approach takes into account the role of theatre translation in the constitution of theatre repertories and in the transformation of local and national artistic practices as a result of contact with foreign models.

The combination of perspectives, interests and methodologies from Translation and Theatre Studies, and insights from areas of study such as Cultural Anthropology and Sociology, through a comparative perspective, will be essential in order to understand theatre translation as a socio-cultural phenomenon, within a descriptive translation studies framework.

Bearing these questions in mind, we propose to demonstrate how the relationship between the dramatic text and its performance affects translation strategies, and how the translation of theatrical practices from one culture to another enriches and determines Portuguese theatrical production during the period under scrutiny, as well as its function within Portuguese culture and society. Consequently, one will appreciate the impact of certain foreign playwrights on Portuguese literary and theatrical production. The main objective of this research will be to understand the processes of theatrical production and reception in Portugal and to contribute to a history of theatre translation in Portugal. Thus, this project will be divided into two inter-related, complementary parts:


Historical and critical mapping and construction of a database, taking into account pre-established classification criteria. This classification will include aspects such as: the influence of specific foreign dramaturgies, playwrights and historical dates, who translated the texts for whom, number of translations, publishers, collections, theatre companies repertoire, number of performances, directors, type of translation and genre. Through the database it will be possible to access all information related to the translation of drama in Portugal during the period of study. It will also be possible to make a rapid and accurate search on more specific topics, compare different information and analyse the relationship between translation and performance, as well as to understand the cultural and social implications of such translations.


A) In a second phase, the project will analyse part of the data catalogued, which will be published in two collections of themed essays.

B) Organisation of several workshops where practical aspects related to theatre translation, opera and surtitling may be discussed.

C) Organisation of an international symposium at the end of the three years, where the project will be discussed and assessed. This forum will have the additional purpose of disseminating similar projects and research undertaken in other countries. This symposium will follow an earlier one that we organised in March 2006.