Shakespeare's 'Dream' revisited in Basque

Uda-gau bateko ametsa (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

William Shakespeare

Image: Maitane Gartziandia
In 2016, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, the Cristina Enea Park, one of San Sebastian’s most fantastic spots, will host open air performances of the English writer’s most magical work: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Due to the European dimension of the work and the popularity of the text, this is one of the most attractive proposals within the summer programme of the Donostia2016 project. It is also one of the previously programmed projects in the original DSS2016EU cultural programme, within the frame of the Lighthouse of voices.

The work is currently at the pre-production stage and has or will shortly have the participation of the following associations and individuals: several regional theatre and dance companies; several music schools and choirs; agents related to gastronomy and cuisine; the Association of Translators, Correctors and Interpreters of the Basque Language (EIZIE); Patxo Tellería (responsible for the adapted script).

Juan Garzia has translated A Midsummer Night's Dream into Basque, and this work, as well as the original version, will be the starting point rather than a script to be followed word for word for preparing the performance in 2016. The script for this innovative 2016 version will be brought to us by Patxo Tellería.

With the aim of sharing, socialising, debating and, in the end, enriching Juan Garzia's translation, the Association of Translators, Correctors and Interpreters of the Basque Language (EIZIE) organised a series of activities in collaboration with DSS2016EU, under the initiative "New life for Shakespeare's Dream".

The Translator's Kitchen

Within the frame of the Translators kitchen two sessions were organised in order to make the translation process more visible: the first one from a technical perspective, and the second one from the perspective of Bertsolarism (i.e. the oral improvisation of Basque verse).

The first session took place on September 30, International Translation Day, in the Graduation Hall of the Faculty of Arts in Vitoria-Gasteiz. This session was specially addressed to students and lecturers of the Faculty, although anyone interested in the subject was also invited to participate. The translator of the play, Juan Garzia, was assisted by two more experts: Larraitz Ariznabarreta, specialist in Shakespeare's work, and Maialen Berasategi, basque translator. Juan Garzia prepared a series of materials for the session, which are available on EIZIE's website.

Given that one of the most remarkable characteristics of A Midsummer Night's Dream are its measured and rhymed verses, the participation of people related to the world of Bertsolarism was seeked for the second session, which took place on October 30 at Lugaritz Culture Centre, in Donostia. This time, the assistants of Juan Garzia were Jon Martin, bertsolari, and Miren Ibarluzea, bertsolari and translator.

The Basque versions of Shakespeare (round table)

This round table took place on November 20, in the Basement of the Municipal Library. The aim was to compare the three Basque translations of A Midsummer Night's Dream: the version by Bingen Amezaga (ceded to EIZIE by Xabier Irujo, professor and researcher at the Center for Basque Studies in Reno), the one by Bedita Larrakoetxea, and the most recent version by Juan Garzia.

A Midsummer Night's Dream in English and in Spanish (talk)


Ángel Luis Pujante, author of several translations into Spanish of Shakespeare's works, and Juan Garzia, were goint to talk about the English and Spanish versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream on November 27, at the Donostia2016 Hall. Unfortunately, this act had to be suspended due to personal problems of the invited speaker.

Online publication of the new Basque version of A Midsummer Night's Dream

On December 3, Basque Language Day, the new Basque version of A Midsummer Night's Dream was published on EIZIE's website, which is downloadable free of charge.

It is expected that, in addition to the above-mentioned activities, EIZIE, in collaboration with DSS2016EU, will lend continuity to the initiative New life for Shakespeare's Dream in 2015, with another series of proposals to be announced at a later date.