I posted a response to my friend's link, which I also posted as a response to the article, and I also felt like sharing it here. It's a short, true story about an interaction I had with Edward Albee back in 2003 that also states, briefly, my thoughts about how he treated this, and other, translators.
I call total B.S.! And...maybe partial responsibility for this.
I was in grad school at Southern Methodist University in 2003 when Edward Albee had come to our campus to accept an award from The Meadows School for the Arts. The school had planned several days of workshops and talks with Albee in order to give the students a chance to have time to learn something from America's greatest living playwrights. During one such meeting Albee said to an assembly of all of the students from the theatre department, "I make sure ALL of the major premieres of ALL of my plays are done EXACTLY as I wrote them to the word, to the letter, and to the punctuation. There has never been a premiere done of one of my plays for which I didn't do this." Shortly after that statement he opened up the assembly to questions.
I was the first one to raise my hand and asked, "Do you speak German?"
Albee looked confused and said, "What...?"
I repeated the question and added, "I'm just curious. Do you speak German?"
He said, "No. What does that have to do with anything?"
"You don't?" I said.
Albee repeated, "No. I just said that."
Then I said, "Well, then I'm confused."
"About what?" Albee said, looking somewhat annoyed with me.
"Well," I said, "didn't your first play, THE ZOO STORY, originally premiere in Berlin, Germany?"
There was a long silence. Albee stared at me (or what felt like THROUGH me) and said, "Yes. Yes it did."
I asked, "Was it performed in an English language theatre?"
Albee answered, "No. No it wasn't."
So then I asked, "Did you go through it line-by-line with someone?"
"No. No I didn't." Albee replied.
Finally I asked, "So what did you do?"
There was a long pause during which it seemed like Albee considered his answer and said, "I just trusted my translator and director."
Albee answered questions for the rest of that first assembly that weekend, but he kept on glancing (actually...GLARING) back at me. I think I angered him with my cheeky line of questioning. There was then a lunch arranged for the whole student body of the theatre department in honor of Mr. Albee.
Friends of mine in the department came up to me and said things like, "You have got some nerve! Where did you come up with that question?!"
I answered to one, who later became a close friend, "Well, I once dated a translator. She was really adamant about what her work meant to her, what went into it, etc. and felt that playwrights sometimes ignored her work and didn't honor it. I felt like he wasn't doing that."
I was clearly gloating...maybe a little too loudly.
It was a buffet style lunch when one of my teachers (I'll call that person R.B. here) said, "Maybe you want to sit over here, Mark?" This professor escorted me to a table that felt like it was one the other side of the room away from everyone else, and, most of all, away from Albee.
"Great," I thought, "I've been exiled! I should have kept my mouth shut, I guess..."
Shortly after that, R.B. escorted Albee to the same circular table where I was seated and sat him directly across from me. R.B looked at me, lightly smiled, and then walked away. Albee and I caught eyes for a second, looked away from each other and proceeded to eat our lunch. Other students quickly swarmed in to sit at the same table and started launching questions at him about career, how he liked Dallas, his writing process, etc.
One of my colleagues from my grad class, in the middle of one of her questions, for some reason, stopped and said, "How rude of me. I keep talking and asking questions." She looked at me and said, "Mark, do you have any additional questions for Mr. Albee?"
There was a long silence during which all those seated at this circular table turned to me and waited for what I would say. I also remember Albee carefully putting down his silverware in a very determined fashion and staring at me as I said, "Yeah...uh...can you pass the rolls?" He reached over to the rolls, which were in a basket on his side of the table, passed them to someone to his right, who then passed them to me. I said, "Thank you." Albee continued staring at me, pressed his lips together and just nodded a few times in silence. I said nothing else and the other students started firing questions at him again.
My friend who turned the questioning over to me came up to me immediately after lunch and said, "'Can you pass the rolls?!' That's all you could think to ask?!"
I said, "What? They were on his side of the table. How else was I supposed to get them? I'm also fairly sure he wanted to kill me for my other question."
If I didn't drive Albee to this policy of totally disrespecting a translator, then I am certain I was fairly instrumental in cementing it in his mind as a good policy to shut-up young, impertinent scamps like myself.