Urdu translation of Schiller’s play launched
By Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: The Urdu translation of Friedrich Schiller’s The Robbers by Shamim Manzar was launched at the Goethe-Institut on Thursday evening.
Informing the audience about Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) and giving the background to the play, Goethe-Institut Director Dr Markus Litz said that in 2009 the institute celebrated the playwright’s 250th birth anniversary and planned a few programmes. Schiller was a friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s but didn’t acquire as much fame as the latter despite the fact that his poems, plays and philosophical theses had a lot to say. So the institute thought that it’d be good if Schiller’s message was spread in the subcontinent in general and Pakistan in particular.
Dr Litz said he wanted to present a theatre play that should attract the young people, and The Robbers (Die Rauber)seemed to be an apt choice because Schiller wrote it when he was just 20 years old. Talking about the play, he said it dealt with the issues of law, infinite freedom and the nature of evil. He said Shamim Manzar accepted the task of translating the play into Urdu, which is the first step towards more activities related to the great playwright. As a second step, a theatrical presentation of the Urdu adaptation of the play would be planned.
Shamim Manzar read out a few passages from Dr Litz’s introductory essay to the play in Urdu. The essay titled ‘Azadi sirf khwabon ki dunya mein milti hai — Schiller aur insaan ki jamaliati tarbiyat ka tasavvur’ embodied issues that began with Kant’s thoughts on aesthetics and Schiller’s similarities to them.
It also discussed the two main characters, the two brothers Karl and Franz in the play, who, according to Dr Litz, in a way symbolised Cain and Abel – one hankers after power and wealth while the other is striving to achieve revolutionary anarchy in the Bohemian Forest. The essay ended highlighting the significance of translation as a sacred undertaking (which is derived from a Latin word ‘translatio’, meaning shifting the remains of martyrs from one place to another).
After that, actors Ehtisham and Paras did a dramatic reading of two scenes from the play (Act 1 Scene 1, Act 2 Scene 3). While they chose the right passages for reading because of their content, the two actors seemed under-rehearsed. Paras fumbled on a few occasions through the reading session and Ehtisham sounded monotonous but was better than his colleague.
In the end Shamim Manzar said the read-out passages clearly indicated Schiller’s message was relevant to all times.