Русская версия

Dificulties of translation, or Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Dificulties of translation, or  Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Tatyana Shvets, theater critic


“Sum Sum2” performance,  room 91 of “Baltiyskiy Dom”/Balit House theatre, St.Petersburg, Russia

Directors: Eberhard Köhler, Valentin Levtsky

Set design –Danila Korogodsky
Composer and player –Rreto Senn (Switzerland)

Selina\Alina –Gitte Repin\Svetlana Smirnova-Kazagadgieva
Sister –Linda Ferster\Elena  Polyakova

Urs-Peter\Petr –Patrick Serena\Vladimir Postnikov
Friend, Priest –Mattias Bernhold\Sergey  Mardar`


Once again about live. It may  be the main idea of “SumSum2” perfomance, directed by Eberhard Köhler and Valentin Levitsky. Perfomance interpretation of the eternal  theme  is modern and urgent. Intenet, globalization process, foreign languages as  symbols of our time, minimalistic multifunctional  sets, live sound of instruments, songs “a capella” as contemporary  theatre trends (sets made by  Danila Korogodsky). Stage space is  abstract and lack of any  geographic concern (all detals that  need are drawn on the glass walls by actors  themselves during the performance). And that  it the thing  makes the story of the main heroes closer to the audience.

As in ancient Greek plays, “Sum Sum2” has  its actors of “choir”: those who play the sax and clarinet (Reto Senn), sing songs in peaceful international English, герои, voice the tapes for language practice.  

The narration leads in the parallel planes, sometimes  even in parallel dimensions. Like in canon singling tradition, the history is told twice – in Russian and in German.

All heroes are searching love, and  everybody  deserves to be loved. One of the main sences of the performance is waiting – waiting of the future meeting, starting of communication, love story developing and understanding of each other. Russian guy Petr should  meet with German girl  Selina, German Urs-Peter – with  Russian girl Alina,  friends  of the main heroes want to  be aquainted  with  girls` sisters, sisters – with  the  boys they  are dreaming about. But the awaiting in all cases is better and sweeter that  the meeting  itself. One may  cite Chekov`s words “everybody  is  so nervous, so  nervous and there is a plenty of love”. These words sute the situation a lot.  

The play`s author Laura de Wek and directors  of the performance stress the gender priorties very carefully: these are girls who  are learning  the languages of their new mates, despite it is  not easy  and they  don`t reach  much  success and the communication process depends on the sisters but  the girls  tried  to  do their best.  As  it was said, even for the intention to do something  man deserves compliments.

Women`s images in the  performance prove the state that  different people in different  countries  may  be in the same situation and may  struggle the same problems. In this case feelings are more important that nationality. Easily treated combination of deep emotions and light sense of humor and irony in sisters` images by Elena Polyakova and Linda Ferster should be specially mentioned.

The performance as a whole may  be compared with Moris Ravel`s  “Bolero”: beginning with  quiet piano the  motiv becomes louder and in the end  sounds  in  pure and aggressive forte. In «Sum Sum2» perfomance emotional tension can be seem twice: in the scene in the beach  when  language barriers and impossibility of their overcoming  may ruin the relations between lovers, and in the final scene of the conversation that  causes the end of love. Last  chance and last  hope for  Hollywood styled happy end can`t be true: cross standing of actors  in this scene and their parallel discussions in both languages stress the dramatic feeling. Even  the  translation is not  correct  any more  and differs from the base text more and more. Hope for the happiness  was not proved. But could  it have been different? The dialogue needs two persons to take part.  To build  relations one need  two  persons involved. Could love have coped such difficulties when there was  only one  person who  tried  to  improve the situation? Certainly, not. 


It is interesting, that the first  nights of “SumSum2” in St.Petersburg were at the same time with the 2nd  Moscow international  Youth Biennale of art “Stop! Who is coming?”, that  was  focused on the theme of borders.  But the same theme  sound completely different in the performance and in the Biennale projects. “SumSum2” tells us that the difference in mentalities and habbits is more difficult for overcoming while comparing with geographic borders and pass controls. The conclusion one can make is that studying languages  is always great,  but  the thing  that is  more important is the skill of understating the other person, and that is the thing we are losing so quickly. And that  is the thing  that  by  no means more important  that  grammar rules and  reach vocabulary.