A theater performance on the quad kicks off a year of translation-themed activities.

By William Sweet

[Spectacles] It was like being caught inside a myth, mid translation.

In September an audience on the first-year quad found itself submerged inside a performance by an unusual theater company. Double Edge Theatre, based in Ashfield, Mass., and known for its rigorous physical performance and collaborative ensemble approach, presented a “traveling spectacle” throughout the entirety of the quad. Actors included troupe member Milena Dabova ’07.

Collage of 3 photos from performance in quad

The performance, conducted for Amherst’s annual Copeland Colloquium, drew from stories in Don Quixote, The Odyssey and Arabian Nights and featured the troupe’s trademark style of elaborate sets and acrobatic choreography.

Actors were suspended from trees, stationed atop Frost Library and employed in operating set pieces—a cyclops head, the wooden horse that ambushed Troy, the ship that bore Odysseus home.

Goddesses on platforms, jinn emerging from lamps and a silver horse over the horizon: the crowd was nimbly ushered from piece to piece. These pieces integrated aerials and dance, as well as song and verse in Greek, Albanian, Arabic, Turkish and Georgian.

Silver horse suspended from trees in quad

Amherst’s 2014 Copeland Colloquium, “Words in Transit: The Cultures of Translation,” is a collection of lectures, films, courses and performances examining language in the world today and how language affects immigration, journalism, diplomacy and the role of the humanities in a multicultural society. The year-long colloquium is being organized by Professors Ilan Stavans, Catherine Ciepiela ’83, Anston Bosman and John Drabinski. W.S.

Audience watching actors in quad

Rob Mattson photo