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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 111 | March 22 , 2009|


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Story of a Translator

ONE Hundred sacks of Rice is a drama written by Japanese playwright Mr. Yozu Yamamoto based on a real story about 140 years ago. Recently it has been translated by noted translator and theatre personality Professor Abdus Selim.The play was performed at the National Theatre, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy as part of the Japan Cultural Festival 2009.The play was an output of a 10 day workshop on the 'Samurai' style, conducted by Japanese instructor Kimura Shinji.It is a joint production by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Embassy of Japan, the Japan Foundation and Japan Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The play, directed by Golam Sarwar and translated by Abdus Selim won the Uchimura Prize of the year, conferred by the International Theatre Institute, Japan. The Uchimura Prize is given to an individual or institute that works on Japanese plays outside Japan.

In the following interview, Abdus Selim talks about his early translations and his growing interest in the genre and his recent success to Sarah Z H of Star campus.

Star Campus (SC) : Sir, how did you come to know about this play and why did you choose this particular play?

Abdus Selim (ASM) : Well, I was asked by Shilpakala Academy on behalf of the Japanese government to work on this play. Basically, they wanted to channel it through Bangladesh and the play and I was both recommended.

SC: What was your first impression when you read the entire play and how did it later change as it has won the Uchimura award?

ASM: When I first went through the play, I felt that it was a very ordinary play and I didn't quite like it. But after I saw the performance I was very happy with the translation. The costumes that were designed and the props used were very impressive to make me change my mind.

SC: Tell us how you got hooked on to only translation and specifically translating plays?

ASM: When I was a freshman at the University of Dhaka, I worked with Ramendu Majumdar (noted theatre personality) on Macbeth as a propmter. From then on I grew a natural interest in dramas.

SC: What was the first ever play you worked on, if you could please tell us in more details?

ASM: My first translation was Bertolt Bretch's 'Life of Gallileo'. Later I translated many other plays like 'Mother Courage and her Children','Round Heads and Pointed Heads' etc.

SC: What were the other plays that you enjoyed working on?

ASM: Agatha Christie's 'Mousetrap', Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' and Henrik Ibsen's 'Lady from the Sea' was some of the most delightful ones.

SC: Other than 'One Hundred Sacks of Rice' what have you recently worked on?

ASM: Translation is simply my passion so I think I never go without translating and thus one of my very recent translations would be Harold Pinter's 'Homecoming'.

SC: Any last words about Yozu Yamamoto's 'One Hundred sacks of Rice'?

ASM: I'm just glad it came out very well at the end. When I had gone to see the performance, I was deeply motivated, as I felt very content that I was able to use the most appropriate words to form the dialogues of this play.

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