The translation residency at La maison de la littérature lives inside me like a delicious dream…

In this dream, I shared an apartment with François Archambault. The apartment had a special white door. When we opened the white door and walked through it, we entered a beautiful, light-filled library. Inside the library, we climbed a wooden spiral staircase. There were large glass-walled offices at the top of the stairs. We could see snow falling all around us and the wind howled across the rooftops as we worked together on the translation of François’s play, Pétrole. The play was going to premiere at Théâtre Jean Duceppe in the fall. We were excited about the future. We ate delicious food in wonderful restaurants. We played hockey with strangers. We went to the theatre and smiled at the people sitting next to us. We went to a hockey game, sat close to the ice, and cheered for both teams. We walked back and forth between the apartment and the library, wearing matching grey slippers. We were happy. 

One night, while a blizzard blanketed everything outside, we went down the spiral staircase. At the bottom of the stairs was a small stage. They gave us each a dressing room. How glamourous! In the dressing room was a mirror. I saw my face – I was beaming. Pétrole had become Paradise in Flames. 

The stages are now all sleeping. Theatre is in an empty library. We are all waiting for the door to open again.

Pétrole is slated to premiere in 2021 at Théâtre Jean Duceppe, if possible.

There will be a staged reading of Paradise in Flames when we’re able to gather again. 

On the last day of their time together in Quebec, Bobby and François offered a glimpse of their long-standing collaborative process and discussed various challenges of translating for the stage, including the somewhat unusual problem of rendering a play written in French which features American voices. The conversation was hosted by Sonya Malaborza, LTAC representative for Atlantic Canada. Listen to it in its entirety in French here: