théâtre à machines

English translation: theatre employing special-effects devices/machinery

21:17 Jan 6, 2019
French to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Art, Arts & Crafts, Painting / type of theatre (17th century)
French term or phrase: théâtre à machines
XXX a fait construire par Petr Rezac un castelet reproduisant le théâtre à machines de l'époque, doté de décors....

I have found this definition in French which is as near as I can get:

Une pièce à machines est une pièce de théâtre qui accorde une grande importance à des effets de mise en scène spectaculaires, analogues à des effets spéciaux.

is this a specific genre in English?
ormiston
Local time: 11:41
English translation:theatre employing special-effects devices/machinery
Explanation:
I think you’re probably going to have to unpack it a bit.

See my reference post.

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Note added at 4 days (2019-01-11 08:47:07 GMT) Post-grading
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That sounds good.
Selected response from:

Helen Shiner
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:41
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +3theatre employing special-effects devices/machinery
Helen Shiner
4 +1the machine theatre / machine plays // a court theatre
Charles Davis
4theater productions that are put on using stage machinery
Barbara Cochran, MFA
3 +1mechanical theater
Trevino Translations
3technically sophisticated theatre
Tony M
Summary of reference entries provided
théâtre à machines
Helen Shiner
"machine plays"
Melissa McMahon

Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
mechanical theater


Explanation:
Just a suggestion. Spelled "theatre" for UK/Canada, IIRC.


    Reference: http://www.google.fr/search?ei=AHMyXKjhAoGSaMmjm-gD&q=mechan...
    Reference: http://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/how-the-va-recreated-an-...
Trevino Translations
France
Local time: 11:41
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: I think this under-translates the idea as expressed by Asker in the definition quote, which sounds very much like 'an FX movie' — where it's primary raison d'être is to show off the visual FX, even if the story is weak ('Avatar'!)
2 mins

agree  Ben Gaia: I think this gives the 18th century feel.
5 hrs

neutral  Charles Davis: "Mechanical theatre" refers to automata, and although Řezač's booth itself might perhaps be a mechanical theatre, it's not reproducing a mechanical theatre ("théâtre à machines" doesn't mean that).
14 hrs
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35 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
theater productions that are put on using stage machinery


Explanation:
www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/0-9/17th-century-theatre/

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 05:41
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: I agree about 'machinery', but please note the source text here seems to be suggesting this is the actual theatre, rather than the productions put on there. / Yes, but note it says 'fait construire...reproduisant' and Rezac was a sculptor, not a dramatist
9 mins
  -> "theater" and "productions" are often used synonymously
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43 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
technically sophisticated theatre


Explanation:
From the way it is being used in your text, I think this would be sufficient; and as Helen has shown us, no I don't think we have a speific term for it in this period in England: French and Italian theatre was far more technically sophisticated in these early times. Which is one reason so much of our modern terminology comes, directly or indirectly, from those languages.

As an alternative, you might use 'mechanized theatre', to convey the idea that it uses sophisticated (for the period!) machinery.

For some perhaps rather later examples, do watch Ingmar Bergman's "Die Zauberflöte" using the traditional (original!) stage workings from Drottningholm Palace.

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Note added at 55 mins (2019-01-06 22:12:10 GMT)
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Here's an article that might make for interesting reading — it seems that 'castelet' may have been a term sometimes used for a marionnette theatre; I'm thinking rather like an ancestor of the traditional 'Punch & Judy' 'tent' theatres we have in Britain?

BaroquiadeS -- Atys en Folie - d'après J.B. Lully

www.baroquiades.com/.../1/atys-en-folie-lully-desrousseaux-...

La machinerie du castelet, véritable théâtre dans le théâtre, permet de passer d'un décor à un autre en un éclair sous nos yeux véritablement ...

Tony M
France
Local time: 11:41
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 88

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Barbara Cochran, MFA: I have a problem with "sophisticated", because I think that back in the 17th century, the machinery might have actually been quite rudimentary, at least considered in terms of what has been around in modern times.
1 hr
  -> Yes, but in the perspective of the times, it was amazingly sophisticated; and even today, it can be seen as ingenious, achieving purely mechanically things that today would require hi-tech solutions. It's a fascinating area of study!
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14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
the machine theatre / machine plays // a court theatre


Explanation:
The sentence will work much better if you use a single term here rather than a phrase, and I think it's perfectly feasible. I have offered two different approaches, because to my mind the term "théâtre à machines" is ambiguous in this context. Although the consensus here seems to be that it refers to a type of building, and it certainly could, it could perfectly well refer to a type of theatrical production. "Théâtre à machines" can mean either, but it much more often means the latter, as an Internet search will readily confirm: a theatrical genre, as for example in the following title of a major work on the subject:

Hélène Visentin, Le théâtre à machines en France à l'âge classique: histoire et poétique d'un genre (1999)
https://books.google.es/books/about/Le_théâtre_à_machines_en...

Though, as I say, it does sometimes mean a theatre building, as in the following example, from the Revue encyclopédique, ou Analyse raisonnée, vol. 12 (1821):

"Il entre dans beaucoup de détails sur la distribution et sur la construction des diverses parties d'un théâtre à machines"
https://books.google.es/books?id=WQcwAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP56&lpg=PP...

The ST, "un castelet reproduisant le théâtre à machines de l\'époque" could mean that the puppet booth (castelet) constructed by Řezač is a reproduction of a Baroque machine theatre building, but it could perfectly well mean that Baroque machine plays are reproduced in it. Personally I think it's more likely to mean the latter, partly because (as I've said) "théâtre à machines" usually means a type of theatrical entertainment, and partly because of the definite article, which suggests the genre to me; I think it would have been more natural to say "un théâtre à machines" (or "de machines") if it referred to a theatre. But of course this is not a decisive argument.

At any rate, if it does refer to the theatrical genre, then it's easy: "the machine theatre of the period" will do fine, or you could say "a machine play of the period" or "machine plays of the period".

"Any presentation which relies heavily on machinery can be referred to as machine theatre".
Martin Harrison, The Language of Theatre
https://books.google.es/books?id=ofbGhtZyiHwC&pg=PA147&dq="m...

"Circé, ou le Balet comique de la Royne (1581) foreshadowed many of the identifying features of this multigeneric machiine theatre"
John S. Powell, Music and Theatre in France, 1600-1680 (Oxford)
https://books.google.es/books?id=cm4NKuoIaBkC&pg=PA162

On the other hand, if we think it refers to a type of theatre building, it's not so easy to come up with a suitable term. The fact is that there is no term in common use in English for this type of theatre building that refers to machinery. Thinking about how I used to refer to them in the days when I taught and wrote about this subject, I think there's no doubt that the choice would have been "court theatre". To me, this is the functional equivalent. In the period we're talking about, a court theatre was inherently a theatre equipped with stage machinery and designed to put on machine plays (and operas, ballets, etc.). That's not to say that stage machinery was not also used in the public theatres, at this time and indeed earlier, but they cannot be called "théâtres à machines", and I think that if you say "reproducing a court theatre of the period" you are conveying what the ST is referring to (if indeed it's referring to a building). The sentence goes on to refer to the scenic resources: "doté de décors...", and I presume that what follows this clarifies what it's referring to.

See this account of Baroque theatre in Britannica for the customary terms for types of theatre building:
https://www.britannica.com/art/theater-building/Baroque-thea...

Of course you could expand the phrase to something like "a theatre equipped with stage machinery", but the sentence will be rather clunky if you do, and I don't think there's any need.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 11:41
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 44

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M: I think the fact the ST says 'fait construire' lus the use of 'doté de...' really does suggest a phsycial theatres construction, as I think both of these expressions would ring rather falsely with a genre (cf. 'the theatre of the absurd', etc.)
8 mins
  -> Thanks, Tony :-) I saw that you had made that point to Barbara, and obviously "fait construire" refers to constructing an physical object (the castelet), but as I say, I think "reproduisant" and "doté" are quite natural usages with a genre.
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
theatre employing special-effects devices/machinery


Explanation:
I think you’re probably going to have to unpack it a bit.

See my reference post.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 days (2019-01-11 08:47:07 GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

That sounds good.

Helen Shiner
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:41
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 332
Notes to answerer
Asker: I ended up rephrasing thus: 'a replica baroque complete with stage machinery...


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  writeaway
44 mins
  -> Thanks, writeaway

agree  Nicole Acher: Yes, or maybe just "special effects theatre".
46 mins
  -> Thanks, Nicole. Yes, that could work as an alternative.

neutral  David Vaughn: "Special effects" for me is a modern cinema term. While "effects" was used, "special" was not used historically to the best of my knowledge. But why not use "FX" if jumbling epochs?
13 hrs

agree  GILOU
3 days 13 hrs
  -> Thanks, Gilou

neutral  Tony M: I agree with David's concern about adding the modern term 'special'; 'effects machinery' on its own would actually suffice.
4 days
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Reference comments


19 mins peer agreement (net): +2
Reference: théâtre à machines

Reference information:
Perhaps someone has access to this article and could help you:

Extract
A term used for French plays, mostly from the middle third of the 17th century, which require complicated machinery for special effects, such as scenes of hell and descents of gods and goddesses. Their authors most often called them tragédies, but occasionally tragédie en machines ...

www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/97815...

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Note added at 22 mins (2019-01-06 21:39:42 GMT)
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This reference indicates in this instance that the theatre in question had two machines - one for wind-making and one for making thunder sounds: http://www.musebaroque.fr/rameau-aricie-philidor-opera-comiq... (see paragraph 3)

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Note added at 29 mins (2019-01-06 21:46:24 GMT)
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https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/uploads/files/2014/06/spec... This reference tends to confirm my suspicion that there was no particular term for theatre or a play employing special effects.

Helen Shiner
United Kingdom
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 332

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  Tony M: Note that in this context, 'machines' are not specific items of equipment (wind, thunder, ...), but rather 'machinery' — many of the old historical terms still form part of current theatrical jargon!
18 mins
  -> Thanks, Tony, though the second reference above indicates otherwise. Nonetheless, I would not translate the term using 'machines' myself.
agree  writeaway
1 hr
  -> Thanks, writeaway
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52 mins peer agreement (net): +2
Reference: "machine plays"

Reference information:
The seventeenth century seems to have been a time when the use of machinery in theatre generally exploded (so to speak) in England in France - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_spectacular#1670s:...

You see the term "machine theatre" and "machine play" but I think rather than a set term you could just offer a descriptive translation along the lines of "reproducing the theatres of the time with their elaborate machinery"... "reproducing the contraption-rich theatres of the time..."

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Note added at 59 mins (2019-01-06 22:16:33 GMT)
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Based on the reference, perhaps you could even incorporate the term "spectacular", as this seems to convey the style of these pieces, focusing on "effects".

Melissa McMahon
Australia
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 23
Note to reference poster
Asker: Your input is very helpful


Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  Tony M: Shrewd observation there (y)
36 mins
  -> Thanks Tony
agree  Victoria Britten
2 hrs
  -> Thanks Victoria
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