WORLD POLICY JOURNAL • FALL 2010 Artists and Their Art 35 34 I got the offer to publish it in Lima. I had to re-translate my own translation. So the play, as it stands right now, is not the original play, but it’s not the English one either. It is somewhere in the middle. The ﬁrst line in the ﬁrst song in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” begins, “Mi-chael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still.” When I staged this in Lima, I realized immediately that I would have to reinvent the lyrics without losing the meaning. To be honest, I had no idea who Michael Rennie was. I knew that “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was an old sci-ﬁ movie, but that was it. I did my research and found out what all the references meant, but they were still very foreign to me. I started to look for the “soul” of the song, the meaning behind the words: “Impossible and exciting things can happen at a late-night sci-ﬁ double feature. Nothing is impossible at the movies.” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is all about the impossible and the campy. My translation switched from references to “It Came From Outer Space” and “Flash Gordon” to more common and universal movie references: vampires, werewolves, “Godzilla” (Japanese, but huge in Peru), killer robots, “King Kong.” This may seem like an oversimpli-ﬁcation, but I believe that the meaning of the song remains. Everything you see at the movies seems impossible, and yet it exists, and this show is all about that. Translating lyrics has, for me, three basic rules: The most important one is that the song has to tell the same story, even if the words are very different. The second is that the translation has to match the music, beat by beat, but the pronunciation rules in Spanish have to be respected. We can’t choose the way a
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