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Gained in Translation

Live English dubbing expands audience for Spanish-language festival.

Graciela Rodríguez is a popular actress/comedienne from Uruguay, one who drew raves and big crowds during a run at Teatro De La Luna in Arlington earlier this year.

When Rodríguez returns to Teatro this fall for a festival, Marcela Ferlito will pay attention to every word that leaves the actress's mouth — and then quickly translate them.

As Rodríguez acts on stage, Ferlito will be in a booth with a script in front of her. When Rodríguez speaks a line in Spanish, Ferlito will speak the same line in English for theatergoers to hear nearly simultaneously through Walkman-like headsets that have their own radio receivers and are given at no additional fee according to the theater.

Live English dubbing is one way Teatro De La Luna hopes to attract a diverse crowd to its Fiesta Del Teatro Hispano (A Celebration of Hispanic Theater), scheduled to be held from Oct. 12 through Nov. 18 at Gunston Arts Center, 2700 S. Lang St. in Arlington. The plays performed by the theatre group, which stages bilingual presentations of Latin American and other Spanish-language plays during its festivals and special engagements, are translated in one of two ways: live dubbing or through subtitles projected in a PowerPoint-like presentation.

Ferlito said the Fiesta's multi-week format made live dubbing the optimal choice. "It'll just be easier because it's three different shows. It takes a long time with the PowerPoint. It's just easier for me to read the script," she said.

It's more than just reading. Ferlito, an actress herself, must anticipate the tempo of the performance on stage, watch out for missed or altered lines, and lend her own emotions to the work. "I don't do a flat reading," she said.

Ferlito, whose parents founded Teatro De La Luna, said presenting these Spanish-language plays in a bilingual format expands its potential audience.

"It actually really, really does," she said. "We're such a diverse community. Latinos want to come to the theater, but non-Spanish speaking people want to come as well. We really do want people to be exposed to Latino theatre."

NUCKY WALDER, producer for Teatro De La Luna, said Rodríguez will star in "Como Rellenar un Bikini Salvaje (How to Fill a Wild Bikini)" from Oct. 12 - 21. Having Rodríguez on stage for what amounts to nearly a one-woman show made the dubbing decision an easy one. “When we have many actors on stage, we prefer to project the PowerPoint subtitles so the audience can read. In this case, we have a solo performer, so we do the live English dubbing — simultaneously," she said.

Rodríguez was lauded for her work during Teatro's IX International Festival of Hispanic Theater, helping to sell out four nights of the U.S. premiere of "No Seré Feliz, Pero Tengo Marido (I might not be happy, but at least I’m married)." Her month-long return engagement is the catalyst for the Fiesta Del Teatro Hispano mini-festival. Walder said her company had tried to stage "Como Rellenar un Bikini Salvaje" for the past five years, and now will produce the comedy written by Brazilian playwright Miguel Falabella with

director by Omar Varela of Uruguay.

Varela will also direct Rodríguez and actor Fernando Larrosa in "Suelta, Ardiente y Peligrosa (On the Loose, Hot and Dangerous)," a cabaret that according to Teatro's Web site will spotlight "a hilarious parade of stereotypical personalities." The show runs from Oct.26-Nov. 4.

Closing out the Fiesta is Mexico Compania De Teatro Bojiganga, which will stage "Romina y el Bellini(Romina and the Circus Bellini)" from writer/director Alejandro Velis. It's billed as "an ode to love ... the dreams, frustrations, and joys of a circus clown’s life as seen from within."

Tickets and showtimes are available by visiting www.teatrodelaluna.org. Call 202-882-6227 or 703-548-3092 for more information.

“We want to give people more opportunity to see these plays. That’s the idea," said Walder.