The Theatre of Sabina Berman: The Agony of Ecstasy and Other Plays introduces and makes accessible to an English-speaking audience the work of the contemporary Mexican playwright Sabina Berman. The book contains translations of the four plays that established Berman’s career: The Agony of Ecstasy, Yankee, Puzzle, and Heresy. An introduction by Adam Versényi provides a critical assessment of each play, a discussion of the specific problems of translation involved, and placement of Berman’s work in the larger Mexican and Latin American context.
It is evident that Sabina Berman’s theatrical acumen matches the depth of her dramatic design whether it is the sheer variety of techniques from song to staged tableau that appear in The Agony of Ecstasy; the physicalization of what it means to be interrogated and to interrogate in Yankee; the final enigmatic image of a soldier alone on stage, silently aiming his firearm at an undefined threat that potentially emanates from the audience in Puzzle; or the manner in which the family narrates its own “heretical” actions in Heresy. It is the combination of theatrical technique with universal themes of self-definition that cuts across cultures and ultimately makes these plays translatable.