Set the Stage! Teaching Italian through Theater: Theories, Methods, and Practices
One might wonder whether preparing English translations and surtitles for a play performed in Italian by foreign language students in an academic environment is necessary. At first glance, there seem to be several reasons to avoid this enterprise. The translation of a text is a complex and time-consuming endeavor for both students and the instructor. It imposes a painstaking work of editing and line-by-line comparison between the original and its rendition in English. Although the translation could be rendered as a communicative and/or collaborative assignment, the goal is the production of an English text. The focus on English required by translating and surtitling may seem contradictory and even counterproductive in theater performance-based courses, in which speaking the second language is both a central goal and a decisive tool for language enhancement. And, after all, surtitles in English would allow only an audience of non-Italian speakers to enjoy the performance. However, despite these concerns, translating and surtitling a full play into English may be tremendously fruitful and rewarding. The development of surtitles fosters the comprehension, analysis, and enactment of the play; reinforces learners' linguistic skills; helps develop their cross-cultural competence; boosts their motivation; and, more generally, promotes an interest in and appreciation for Italian theater within and beyond the Italian programs.
Marini-Maio, Nicoletta. "English Translations and Surtitles for the Public Performance: Rationale and Practicalities." In Set the Stage! Teaching Italian through Theater, edited by Nicoletta Marini-Maio and Colleen Scheutz, 342-350. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.