Dealing with Difficult Messages in Oliver!
by Michelle Boesch
This year for our summer program we chose to produce the musical Oliver! in Monteverede. Oliver! works well for FCCMT because not only does it allow us the opportunity to work with a many children of all ages from the area, but it also allows us to use a creative medium to address some issues that come up in our student's lives.
Probably the most sensitive issue touched upon in Oliver! is domestic violence: the lead female character, Nancy, is physically abused by another character, Bill Sikes, yet she chooses to remain involved with him.
Unfortunately, many women in all communities are dealing with similar circumstances, and we feel that while it can be difficult to watch this abuse come to a head on stage, that it is important to address the issue not only with the cast, but with our audience. We hope that our students will learn from our rehearsals and discussions, and will have a lasting impact on the community in Costa Rica.
Revisando la Situatción: Creating a Bilingual Oliver!
by Lisa Burns
For this year’s production of Oliver!, we were lucky to have been able to license a professional Spanish translation (done for the Colombian premiere last fall). In the past, we have worked with our students to translate dialogue into their native languages. Now, for the first time, we are also presenting translations of many of the lyrics.
To best meet the needs of both our cast and audience, we are presenting a thoroughly bilingual version of the show. Most songs will be performed with alternating sections in English and Spanish. I’ve been carefully picking through the two librettos to maintain the story-line of each song while highlighting the best of sections of each language-version. Sometimes, the original language is too good to let go -- but there are many cases where the Spanish not only works smoothly but is truly beautiful or witty.
My favorite bilingual construction is “Who Will Buy” or “Comprarán.” The Spanish translation is simple and elegant. The original lyric repeats many times, so no content needs to be lost in either language. But the real thrill is that the vocal arrangement involves different types of musical layering. Thus, after presenting the English and Spanish text, we are able to later build in both simultaneously.
Here’s an example of a translated lyric that I greatly enjoy. Although the rhyming structures and plays on words do not work the same way as in the original English, it captures the spirit and feel of the song -- and gets a good laugh!