Corps de l’article

When translating musicals from one culture to another, a translator’s role is to convert the libretto for its representation in a different context. However, during the process from this translated text to it finally being performed on stage, changes are inevitable. Issues surrounding the nature of such changes, the reasons for which they are made, and their resulting effects, have hitherto been little researched.

Based on the contemporary Chinese translation version of the off-Broadway musical I love you, you’re perfect, now change, this paper seeks to explore such issues. It investigates the ways in which the development of the translated text is shaped by not only linguistic and theatrical factors, but also through interactions and collaborations between the various stakeholders, including translators and production team members, for example, the director and actors.

Employing Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT) as the principal analytical framework, a stakeholder model is proposed to explain the process of musical libretto translation. Together with a case study approach combining textual analysis and empirical studies, it attempts to show how the potential for collaborative practices are expanded through the negotiations from differing stakeholder perspectives.

The findings suggest that, owing to the genre features of musicals, in addition to being concerned with the accurate resemblance between the source and the target texts in order to fit in with the musical framework, the translators operate in a dynamic network environment. They need to collaborate with the production team members, benefitting from the input of the expert knowledge of the latter, in order to produce the successful translation of a musical.