Looking Back on 2021

Another year has flown by, and as 2022 approaches with mixed feelings of hope and uncertainty, we take a moment during this holiday period to take a look back at all we’ve achieved in 2021 and to thank the many friends and colleagues who have been part of another year of doing what we love.

Carrying us through the year, just as they did in 2020, were our monthly meet-and-reads. Staying on Zoom for another twelve months, we met once a month to share new translations of plays from throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds at our informal sessions that are always free to attend and where all are welcome. This year, we continued to span the centuries (from C17th Mexico to C21st Brazil), and were delighted to hear from translators who we were meeting for the first time, as well as enjoying the work of existing colleagues.

To record this most important element of our work, this year we introduced our archive list of all of our meet-and-reads since 2015. Here, you will find a record of all the plays we read, along with links to blogs from some of our contributors about their experience with us.

Our monthly meets will continue in 2022, starting on Friday, January 28. And as always, if you have translated a play into English from Spanish, Portuguese, or any language widely spoken in what is commonly known as the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, we’d love to hear from you.

Having had to postpone our 2020 festival, and with the pandemic keeping UK theatres closed, we were determined in the early part of 2021 to share work with audiences and colleagues around the world, and hopefully to raise all our spirits. This desire gave rise to our first-ever ‘Winter Warmer’, produced entirely online in partnership with our good friends at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, London.

Across one week, we beamed a range of events to screens across the globe, starting with our first-ever Emerging Theatre Translators Scratch Night. This event showcased the work of early-career theatre translators translating from a wide range of languages, presenting plays in a huge range of styles and expertly performed by a wonderful cast. Followed by a panel of industry experts, the Scratch Night sought to entertain and inspire, and we can’t wait to see what comes next from these translators.

Next up was a book launch. This was a hugely significant moment for us, as OOTW formally presented our partnership with Inti Press, publishing six translations from our first four festivals of readings, all in print for the first time. It wasn’t long before these texts found themselves having an impact: Almiro Andrade’s translation of ‘The Blind One and the Mad One’ by Claudia Barral was selected to be part of the pioneering, award-nominated ‘Performing International Plays’ project, taking theatre in translation to educational settings

The third event was our Friday Promenade! A cheery jaunt through four virtual rooms of quizzes, spontaneous play readings, and a screening of our 2021 video project, Pandemic Ceremonies. While still showcasing our work, this was an important chance for us to kick back and have some fun and a few laughs, with wigs and sequins included.

Closing the Winter Warmer was OOTW in Focus, a one-day event exploring Black Playwrights of the Spanish- and Portuguese-Speaking Worlds. We were honoured to be joined by such a wide range of guests for this event, sharing their expertise and creativity to discuss and showcase Afro-Hispanic and Afro-Lusophone theatre-making from Colombia, Spain, Cabo Verde, Brazil, Cuba, and beyond. This was an event of great richness, and a springboard for further activities which we look forward to announcing in 2022. The videos of these panels can still be found on our YouTube Channel.

No sooner was the Winter Warmer over than planning began for the return of our flagship summer festival. We were hugely grateful that, following the cancellation of the 2020 event, we were able, thanks to the brilliant support of our venue, the Omnibus Theatre, to bring our in-person event back.

After a year spent on screens, #OOTW2021 featured plays visiting physical spaces and internal worlds, by writers from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Brazil and Peru. In a prison, at a high school or in a shopping mall; out on the city streets or within the privacy of the mind, our dramatists from across Ibero-America explored identity, gender, fear of the unknown, the weight of history, and the limits of empathy, through science fiction, true-life recollection, the abstract, and the all too real. At the height of the London summer, it was joyful to present these six rehearsed readings of new translations.

More thrilling still was the great success that the festival enjoyed, with several evenings selling out, new audiences experiencing our work for the first time, and old friends being reunited, even from as far away as Las Vegas! As COVID threatens theatres in the UK once more, we count ourselves very lucky that this festival could take place. It featured the skills of a vast array of colleagues both on- and offstage. Read about all of them in the festival programme here.

As 2021 continued, so OOTW continued reaching outwards and engaging with a range of projects around the world. We joined English PEN and the National Centre for Writing’s celebration of International Translation Day in September, with a reading of ‘Absent’ by Felipe Botero, translated by Santiago del Fosco. In October, our director Catherine Boyle and member Almiro Andrade appeared at the annual conference of ALTA, the American Literary Translators Association, and in November, Almiro joined William Gregory, Rachel Toogood and Kate Eaton to talk about our work at the annual conference of the pan-European theatre translation network, Eurodram.

In Las Vegas, Gigi Guizado’s translation of Rafael Guizado’s ‘Scherzo (Dialogue with a Statue)’, which had premiered at our festival in 2018, was produced by The Asylum Theatre, published in Asymptote, and went on to be nominated in a number of categories in the Broadway World Las Vegas Awards.

Our social media presence grew in 2021. As well as still being able to find us on Twitter and Facebook, our Instagram and YouTube channels saw increased activity, and we joined LinkedIn.  Do follow us!

As we take stock of 2021, and do so during a time when the pandemic continues and uncertainty remains, we are hugely grateful to our members, colleagues, friends and supporters. And to absolutely everyone who has shared in our work this year. 2022 will bring more challenges, doubtless many of them unexpected. But we trust that a shared passion for and commitment to international exchange, creativity and cross-cultural storytelling will see us through, just as they have in the past two years. Stay safe, stay with us, and stay tuned.

Boas festas, felices fiestas, happy holidays, from all of us at Out of the Wings.

Join us on January 28 for our first event of 2022, our monthly meet-and-read of a new English translation of a play from the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds.  All are welcome and these meetings are always free to attend.  For information, simply sign up to our mailing list.