While his play is the first Bulgarian play ever to premiere at a major theater in New York, Ivan Dimitrov was only making his first attempt at drama. His first Bulgarian play ended up winning a contest in Shumen, Bulgaria. He took his prize money and put it towards creating an English translation of the play. While the decision to translate the play was just a realistic step in case anyone wanted to read it from the states, he ended up with an offer to produce the play in New York. He worked with a professional translator on “The Eyes of Others,” and it is now the first play originally written in Bulgaria to land a New York opening.
The Play Translates Well
It might be hard to believe that a play written entirely in Bulgarian would translate well on the American stage. Surprisingly, it does. While Dimitrov is shocked to have his play produced on a coveted New York stage, he did expect the themes to be highly relatable in the states. The play is about mass consumerism and the increasing level of anonymity in the age of digital communication. It touches on themes with references to Facebook and celebrity gossip. With a description like that, it sounds as though an American wrote it. Even the locations in the play were vague enough to remain unchanged in the professional translation. Some food items were changed in the translation so as not to distract the audience. For example, a traditional Bulgarian pastry became a donut.
Dimitrov Worked to Keep the Play From Becoming Too American
While working on the English translation for his play, Ivan Dimitrov actually struggled to keep its Bulgarian identity in tact. It translated to English so smoothly that he worried it would start to feel like an American sitcom. However, he also didn’t want it to sound like he ran it through some soulless translation services to get a literal translation that lacked personality. The play’s themes are understandable to an American audience but also mystical enough to be European or simply foreign in general.
The New York opening of “The Eyes of Others” will prove to be historically significant, and Dimitrov is the first Bulgarian playwright ever to accomplish such a feat. Many Spanish and German translations of plays have hit the New York stage before, but Bulgarian to English translations are less common.