Rate for translating a full-length theatre play
Thread poster: jorgeuk

United Kingdom
Local time: 21:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jan 8

I am about to start the translation of an award-winning Portuguese theatre play into English and, since the Independent Theatre Council does not have any agreed rates, I need some advice on what to charge.
I imagine there are two issues here:

1. The rate of translation to produce an English performable script;
2. The split original author/translator of the full-length play the ITC suggests.

Any help will be most appreciated.
Thank you.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:15
French to English
Some suggestions Jan 9

I've translated a few published works but not any plays or other work for theatre.
As a starting point, there are a number of things you might ilke to take into account:

- your usual rate per word
I would always use this as a starting point and add/substract from this if, and only if, you have good reason to do so.

- take into account intellectual property matters (copyright, royalties, etc)
Make sure that intellectual property rights are known and agreed to on both sides before starting the work.

- I'm not sure what you mean when you describe the "split" between the original playright and yourself
What are you meant to be splitting in terms of the translation? The amount of money you are paid for it? Is this a reference to royalties? if so, how long for, on what percentage? How to be paid? When to ne paid, etc?

- what the deadline is
Is the deadline comfortable enough for you to do this work and to continue working for other clients, or does it mean near 24/7 investment, to the detriment (and potential loss) of other clients once the job is finished. That can be a hard price to pay.

- how the work has to be supplied
Are you to supply the job once it is complete or by instalments?

- an advance on account
Unless this is a very short work, then make sure you get a downpayment of 30%. You should be paid subsequent instalments in some clearly established way, such as at the end of a month, or when you submit a particular amount or part of the work, etc.

- whether you are to have a third party proofread your work
You will need to get a third party to proof-read your work - and your client's agreement to that - and make sure you allow for that in your pricing. Better still, it would be a good idea to include that as a separate item in your quotation.

Without wishing to exagerate anything, unless there are clear standard guidelines somewhere, it might be worth discussing the matter with an intellectual property lawyer.

[Edited at 2018-01-09 15:14 GMT]


Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
Charge what you did before Jan 9

Hi Jorge,

I'm not sure about this at all, but from your CV it transpires you've translated plays before, so can't you just do what you did then? With a bit of a mark-up, maybe.


United Kingdom
Local time: 21:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Thanks Jan 9

Thank you both for your help.
I have in the past translated plays at the authors' request (so they were always private and direct commercial agreements).
This time, and for the first time, I am including the translation of the work in the budget of an official funding application, hence why I want to ensure I am asking for an amount that matches any currently agreed rates. I'll try to speak to the WGGB.

As for the split, it refers to performance rights. I was looking at the ITC Rates of Pay (www.itc-arts.org/rates-of-pay) page, but it is unclear how performance rights would work with translated plays.
I'll follow your advice and ask an intellectual property lawyer.

Thank you.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:15
French to English
Sorry for the lengthy ppost Jan 9

I hadn't thought to look at your profile. Please excuse my long post. You have probably considered all of those things anyway.


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