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© Jeff Busby 2019

Faith in language

Yuchen Wang plays The Translator in Golden Shield, which is a role he carries around in his regular life as a bilingual artist living in an English-speaking country.

How do you find your character in a role that is mostly a function or device of the play? Have you created a backstory? What is your entry point into the character?

I think it is a common misinterpretation that The Translator is merely a device of the play. Then again, aren't all characters in a play merely a device in the grand scheme of storytelling? Let me stop myself before I venture into the land of philosophy, yet again. The Translator and I have that in common; we both tend to get carried away with our passions. I find it easier when the character is attached to a certain era, or cultural and social background, however, The Translator is a being outside of the known three-dimensional world. To me, he's all knowing yet naive. Therefore, my entry point is where he begins and ends the journey, from intellectual maturity to emotional maturity, which is the ultimate journey every single one of us have to face.

What have you learnt about the challenges of translation from this play?

Translation and I aren't exactly strangers. Part of the natural duty of being bilingual is to carry the part of the translator. I have been put on the spot to be the temporary translator in numerous occasions. And the challenge has always been what Felicia has pointed out in the play, to take something in one culture and translate it in a way in which it makes sense to another culture.

The main relationship your character has, is with the audience. How do you hope to develop this rapport with different audiences in each new performance?

Well the translator's journey is human, therefore universal. It's this universality that brings people together. So, hopefully, in each new performance different audiences and I would cross that bridge together.

Felicia has said that the attempt to translate and understand each other is what really matters, even if the process is flawed. Has your thinking on the act of communicating changed while being involved in the play?

In some ways, yes. Like The Translator, I sometimes put too much faith in language. Always trying to find the right word to connect ideas and thoughts. But a lot of the time, communication is not words alone, it's an act of vulnerability which allows another person to see you. To give them the power to hurt you, but trust that they won't. I think that's what successful communication brings.

Have you or would you ever consider being a translator yourself?

Yes I would, in fact, if I didn't become an actor first, I would probably be a translator.

Published on 12 August 2019

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