Out of the Wings was co-founded in 2008 by Catherine Boyle, David Johnstone and Jonathan Thacker, following their work with the Royal Shakespeare Company on their acclaimed Spanish Golden Age season (2004). The first years of the project resulted in new translations, readings and performances, a wealth of research, a conference and other public events. It also produced a searchable database of English translations of plays from throughout the Spanish-speaking world, still available at the project website outofthewings.org.
In 2015, Out of the Wings was relaunched as a monthly meeting where translators and other theatre practitioners meet to read a new English translation of a play. These sessions are free to attend and anyone with an interest in theatre and international collaboration is welcome.
Since 2016 we have hosted an annual festival of play readings, workshops and discussions, showcasing plays in translation from throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, ranging from 90-year-old classics to the best of contemporary writing.
We’re proud of our achievements, but most of all of the people who have contributed to them. OOTW would be nothing without the many friends and collaborators who have joined us on our journey. Remaining open to all is crucial to our practice. Our monthly meetings are free to attend and all are welcome. There is always more for us to discover: come and help us discover it.
The OOTW Festival as we know it today began in 2016 and was held at King’s College London, and billed more humbly as a muestra or mostra – a showcase. The plays were selected from the work of OOTW’s regular members, who had joined the monthly play-reading laboratory that remains the backbone of our work throughout the year.
By 2017, however, we sought submissions of translations from subscribers to our mailing list and beyond, in what would eventually become the public call-out used to programme the festival today. 2017 also saw OOTW move to the Cervantes Theatre, home of the London Spanish Theatre Company, where we remained for two years. Having held theatre translation workshops a year previously alongside the readings, we also expanded this part of our programming.
In 2019 the festival found a new home at Omnibus Theatre, Clapham. The auditorium, café and garden provided a perfect backdrop for our readings and our workshops, and an informal space to spend time with visiting writers, translators and theatre-makers
from the UK and abroad. Inspired by the many conference and discussion events that took place during the original OOTW research project, the OOTW Forum was launched in 2018. Returning in 2019 and 2023, the Forum – like OOTW itself – brings together researchers, practitioners and organisations from all across the theatre translation community for a day of exploration, discussion and exchange.
The COVID pandemic prevented a festival taking place in 2020. Instead, OOTW increased our activities online. New colleagues joined us, from Vancouver to Bangalore. The online film project Pandemic Ceremonies was produced, shot and broadcast across several continents; our monthly reading group moved online (and has remained hybrid ever since), and the readings of the 2021 festival were filmed to allow greater access as the pandemic continued.
2021 also saw the launch of our partnership with the publisher Inti Press, with a growing selection of titles from our festivals now published and available for readers around the world.
By 2022 the festival was bigger than ever. Our call-out for plays in translation received enough submissions to programme the week eleven times over. Over six festivals, we had showcased 35 plays from 11 countries, from 15th-Century Mallorca to 21st-Century Venezuela, all in UK premiere translations.
Many of these plays, and of those shared at our monthly meetings, have gone on to have further lives in performance, publication, or both. The list of these onward destinations is long and growing all the time: Theatre503, Foreign Affairs, the Actor’s Centre, Barons Court Theatre and Omnibus in London; Asylum Theatre in Las Vegas; Odyssey Theatre in Ottawa; the Columbia International Playwriting Festival and LaMicro Theatre in New York; publishers Inti Press, Oberon, Bloomsbury, Routledge, Legenda and Asymptote; award nominations including the Valle-Inclán Translation Prize and the Focus Brazil Award.
To keep up to date with our activities, and to attend our free monthly meetings, sign up HERE to join our mailing list.
And stay tuned to our website ootwfestival.com