Bernadette Cronin

Panel 2D: From Page to Stage, and in Between
Session 2 – July 1, 15:30 – 17:00

 Killing Stella: Translation and/as Transcodification

Gaitkrash Theatre Company’s ( 2018 production KILLING STELLA was adapated and devised from post-war Austrian author Marlen Haushofer’s novella Wir töten Stella (1958). Opening up questions about gender inequality, power, truth, lies, good and evil, Haushofer’s narrative text consists of the confession of a female narrator (Anna) to collusion in the abuse of a young woman (Stella) in her care. The text features all of the quintessential characterics of the classic German novella from the 19th century tradition, including a central leitmotif, à la Paul Heyse’s ‘Falkentheorie’, namely, a baby bird calling for its mother in the lime tree. This tautly woven textual tapestry and critically acclaimed piece of writing by Haushofer features a panpsychic world, haunted by figures from Greek mythology, and replete with colour and sonic symbology. It has been convincingly read as an allergory for Hitler’s nazi faschist state. At the centre of the adaptation work was the drive to develop a multi-layered language of performance – interweaving visual aesthetic, music, physicality, physical, and adapted monologue – to translate and transcodify Haushofer’s 1958 Austrian novella for a 21st century English-speaking theatre audience but without losing the ‘foreign’ characteristics of the text. Drawing on Lawrence Venuti’s translation theory of foreignisation vs domesticisation, I will discuss elements of this adapting and devising process including my translation of Haushofer’s text and scripting of the monologue.

Gaitkrash’s production of KILLING STELLA was funded by an Arts Council Ireland Theatre Project Award (2018) and premiered at Everyman Theatre, Cork (July, 2018), subsequently touring to Belltable (Limerick) and Theatre Royal (Waterford) in 2019. Another version of the piece has been invited to premiere at the Austrian Cultural Forum in May 2020 as part of a conference to celebrate the centenary of Marlen Haushofer:


Bernadette Cronin is an actor / theatre practitioner-researcher, and co-founder of Gaitkrash Theatre Company, a collective that makes experimental theatre work at the intersection between art forms. She is a lecturer at the Department of Theatre, University College Cork, where she teaches adaptation, theatre practice, voice, and texts and contexts. Her research focuses in the main on adapting and devising. She holds a diploma in translation (German / English) from the Institute of Linguists (IoLET). She is also a designated Linklater voice teacher and a yoga instructor (traditional ashtanga/hatha yoga). Both of these practices inform her teaching and thinking around the processes of theatre-making.