Translation Adaptation Cover Artwork: Dried vegetation - such as bark, roots, and seeds - partly framed on a wall.
Ellen McLaughlin: On Translations and Adaptations
From the Ripe Time production of Septimus And Clarissa - Photo by Richard Finkelstein
From the Ripe Time production of Septimus And Clarissa. Photo by Richard Finkelstein.

One of the dismaying things about working in adaptation as I have is that the assumption tends to be that I haven’t actually written, but only edited, translated, or manipulated the original source. I remember particularly seeing with some pride that Howard Zinn, something of a hero of mine, had quoted a long section from my play The Persians in the New York Times only to reach the end of it and see that he’d attributed the quote to Aeschylus. It was especially painful because that was a section I’d completely made up that appears not at all in the original Greek.

Sign In To Access This Article

Subscribe to gain full access to The Dramatist Issue Archive.

Join and become a Dramatists Guild Member, Business Subscriber or subscribe to the magazine with an annual plan for unlimited access.

Guild Members receive our magazine as a benefit of membership!

View Options


Ellen McLaughlin
Ellen McLaughlin

’s plays have received numerous national and international productions. They include Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, Ajax in Iraq, and Septimus and Clarissa. Producers include The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, The Guthrie Theater, and The Almeida Theater, London. She is also an actor.