Truth in Translation

Truth in Translation tells the stories of young, untested interpreters who became the ‘voice’ of victim and perpetrator.

Truth in Translation tells the stories of young, untested interpreters who became the ‘voice’ of victim and perpetrator. They translated simultaneously in the first person, with no time for thought and no option to turn away. Everything flowed through them – lies and truths, forgiveness and rage, pain and celebration. They absorbed everything without having the time to process what they were hearing and speaking until it came back to them in dreams, in their relations with each other and in the haze of drink and dark humor that inevitably came after testimony.

Their mandate was to “not become involved.” Their attempt to follow this mandate is their story. This struggle to remain impervious to what they witness, to use whatever they can find to keep them from self-destruction, leads to the growing awareness that they are not that different from the people for whom they interpret. It is the story of what happens to people who cannot turn away, who are forced to see every side of each truth and lie, and in so doing, test their own identities to the limit. It is a story of what it feels like to bear witness without the option of denial, ultimately revealing that if we drop our masks, we will not die. We will become stronger.

Theatre journalist Lyn Gardner raved about the 2007 Edinburgh production in a Guardian review.

More information about the project is available here.

Interpreters' Conference

A discussion with the actual interpreters looking back on their work translating for South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Truth in Translation Board of Advisors

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Ambassador Barbara Masekela
Cyril Ramaphosa
Anthony Lake
Max du Preez
Glenda Wildschut
Albie Sachs
Charles Villa-Vincencio
Mamphela Ramphele
David Hamburg
Vincent Mai
Mary Tiseo
Pieter-Dirk Uys
Julie Katzman
Sibongile Khumalo
Melanie Verwoerd
Wilhelm Verwoerd
Jonathan Moore
Don Steinberg
Victoria Sharp
George Bizos
Rica Hodgson
Piet Meiring
Peter Storey
Reverend James Morton
Douglas Tanner

Bosnia and Herzegovina
20 September 2008
Mostar, Open Air Performance at the Mostar Bridge
26 – 27 September 2008
Belgrade, BITEF, Terazije Theatre
29 September 2008
Novi Sad, National Theatre
2 October 2008
5 October 2008
Pristina, National Theatre
6 – 7 October 2008
Pristina, National Theatre
8 October 2008
13 October 2008
Zagreb, Gavella Theatre (20h00)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
18 October 2008
Sarajevo, MESS Festival, Zenica Theatre
20 October 2008
Sarajevo, National Theatre
29 April – 5 May 2008:
HIFA Festival
Harare and Bulawayo
Northern Ireland/The North of Ireland
25 October – 3 November 2007:
Lyric Theatre, Belfast Theatre Festival
10 – 13 October 2007:
Stockholm Stadsteater
15-20 October 2007:
Folkteatern Theatre, Gotheborg
United States of America
6 – 8 September 2007:
SMU, Dallas, Texas
12 – 15 September 2007:
The Whiting, Flint, Michigan
21 – 23 September 2007:
Colorado Festival of World Theatre, Colorado Springs
28 – 30 September 2007:
Center for the Arts, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4 – 6 October 2007:
Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington D.C.
3 – 27 August, 2007:
Assembly Hall, Edinburgh Festival
South Africa
1 – 24 September 2006:
The Market Theatre, Johannesburg
13 February – 3 March 2007:
The Baxter Theatre, Cape Town
5 August 2006:
Amahoro Stadium (FESPAD Opening Ceremony)
6 – 7 August 2006:
The French Cultural Centre, Kigali
9 – 11 August 2006:
The National University of Rwanda, Butare

MESS Festival (Sarajevo)Recipient of The Silver Laurel Wreath Award for Best Production
Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards (Cape Town)Nominated for Best New Indigenous Production
The Scotsman Fringe FirstRecipient (Edinburgh)
Amnesty International Freedom of Expression AwardShortlisted production (Edinburgh)
Music Theatre Matters Awards (Edinburgh)Recipient for Best Composer (Hugh Masekela)
Edinburgh Festival FringeNominated for Best Book Writer and Best Musical Production
2007 Award (Edinburgh)Nominated for Best New Musical Production (Edinburgh Festival Fringe)
Guardian Newspaper (Edinburgh)Voted one of the top three productions (Edinburgh Festival Fringe)
Naledi Awards (Johannesburg)Nominated for Best Production, Best Musical Performance by an Actress (Thembi Mtshali-Jones), Best Composer/Music Director (Hugh Masekela), and Best New South African Play

Everything Theatre Should Be
A Unique Moment in Time - The TRC
Responses in Rwanda
Responses in South Africa
See peace play plea by Tutu
Balkan performances prompt discussions about past atrocities
Truth in Translation tours the Balkans
Translating the truth about apartheid
South African production asks whether forgiveness can heal
Letting Bygones Be Bygones
Play gives voice to apartheid experiences
'Truth in Translation' tells of South Africa's healing
Powerful play 'Truth' relives end of apartheid in South Africa
'Truth' sets new standard at Center for the Arts stage
Interpreting 'Truth' for Tomorrow's Peace
South Africa's Healing 'Truth'