Found in Translation – Bringing Russian and Punjabi to British Stages

Teatr image

A thinking-networking event for performers, theatre programmers, academics and students.

Wednesday 5 June 2019, with live performances.

At Wolfson College, University of Oxford

  • How does a brand new play from Russia or Ukraine actually reach a British theatre stage?
  • How does a multilingual Punjabi-Urdu-Hindi-English poem play out with British audiences?
  • What acts of ‘translation’ are needed to realise these creative or poetic journeys?
  • What kinds of partnerships can bring multilingual performances to UK stages?

These are some of the questions which will be addressed at this event!


10.00 – 10.45 Welcome, followed by introductory roundtable discussion of contemporary Russian-language drama in Russia and Ukraine, including the theatre critic Pavel Rudnev (Moscow) and the Ukrainian playwright Maksym Kurochkin.

10.45 – 11.15 Coffee

11.15 12.00 A brief presentation on Torture (2018), a startling new verbatim play by Moscow-based dissident theatre collective Teatr.doc, followed by a round-table discussion examining the processes of how this work travelled from Moscow to be performed in London in 2019, at the Royal Court Theatre. Including Larissa Itina (Anglo-Russian Culture Club) and John Farndon, Alex Thomas, and Pavel Rudnev.

12.00 – 13.00 A translation workshop: exploring how to turn a text such as Torture into a performable play. Led by Noah Birksted-Breen and Alex Thomas: Irina Pavlova with Fiona Bell; Veniamin Gushchin.

13.00 – 14.15 Sandwich lunch

14.15 – 15.45  How can Ivan Vyrypaev’s beautiful and violent play Oxygen (2003) resonate with UK audiences when reworked by British hiphop artists?

A roundtable discussion with Pavel Rudnev (theatre critic), Lady Sanity and Stanza Divan (hiphop artists and adaptors), Noah Birksted-Breen (director) and Rajinder Dudrah (project curator and academic).

15.45-16.15  Tea


16.15 -18.00 Poetry in motion – a Slanguages event

Multilingual spoken word and hiphop performances with Rupinder Kaur (Birmingham-born Panjabi poet), Stanza Divan and Lady Sanity, followed by Q&A with audience.


18.30 Dinner for invited guests


Participation at the workshops is by invitation only; the performances will be free and open to the general public

This event is being run alongside a related workshop, ‘Staging Queer Lives in Russia and Ukraine’, in Manchester on 6 and 7 June 2019.


Image source: An open source image used by Teatr.doc to publicise its production of Torture: Russians protesting against the detention and torture of the 11 young people in the Penza case outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm, 29 Jan 2019.