Not lost in translation
Subtitles have long been used to make foreign-language films understandable. Operagoers are familiar with surtitles — the translated texts of lyrics and dialogue that appear above the stage. Now, Broadway theaters are experimenting with a mobile translation app that will help foreign audiences understand dialogues and lyrics in plays and musicals.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the app is being developed by a three-year-old Israeli company called Galapro. Six musicals — The Phantom of the Opera, The Band’s Visit, A Bronx Tale, Chicago, Come from Away, and School of Rock — began using the app at the end of June.
Theaters are paying the company between $5,000 and $7,000 to set up the system, with an additional translation charge of $2,000 to $3,000 per language and show. Audiences who choose to use the app will pay a fee of about $5. Among the most popular languages are Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese.
Meanwhile, after years of trying to persuade audiences to turn off their mobile phones, New York City theater managers will now have to allow it, at least for translation app users.
“It’s reversing everything [audiences] have been taught,” comments Galapro CEO Yonat Burlin.
Musical: Chicago on stage