Mind your language: the trouble with theatre surtitles

Great translations make foreign productions accessible, but poor ones are a distraction. Should surtitles sometimes be shown the stage door?

One of the pleasures of London theatre-going over the past 20 years has been just how many foreign-language productions it has been possible to see. Shakespeare performed in another tongue has been a particular revelation as the Globe’s 2012 Globe to Globe season amply demonstrated, although what made that – and it’s ongoing spin-offs – so pleasurable was the chance to see Shakespeare amid an audience whose native tongue was the language in which the play was being performed. If you want evidence that London is truly an international city, this is it.

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