Author ORCID Identifier


Dr. Tarek Shamma

Document Type



Theatre Arts

Publication Date

Fall 2-11-2023


Intersemiotic Translation, Interpretation, Interpretive Model, Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration, Cognitive Process, Collective Translation, Performance, Cybernetic Art, Inspiration


The research uses Whispers, a graduate student theater project as the case study to analyze the cognitive process of inter-semiotic translation from different media/semiotic pairs. The study adopts the Interpretive Theory of Translation proposed by Danica Seleskovitch and Marianne Lederer as a point of reference to examine artists' thought processes when translating across sign systems. Spontaneous reflection of the artists, retrospective interviews, and written statements of the artists used during the performance have been collected along with copies of the source and target media. The paper begins with an introduction to the Whispers and the Interpretive Model proposed by Seleskovitch and Lederer, then proceeds with six section analysis, discussing Sylvia Skok’s paintings as the source media, Neva Derewelzky’s translation from painting to music composition, Marielle Zuccolo’s translation from poetry to American Sign Language, the cast’s collective translation from paintings to poetry, René Neville’s translation from painting and poetry to choreography, and the dancers’ translation of their names into choreography. The study concludes with a discussion session, summarizing the inquiry, reviewing the strength and limitations of the project, and proposing directions for further investigation.


The research was the final project of Intro to Translations under the advice of Dr. Tarek Shamma who had offered tremendous help in navigating through the challenges of studying, recording, and analyzing inter-semiotic translation. I would have not had the courage and confidence to embark on the journey without his encouragement and continued support. The limitations to the scope and penetration of the project make a lot of areas in need of further inquiry and discussion. As the author and conductor of the project, thoughts and feedback from scholars of translation studies and contributors of all backgrounds are welcome and appreciated.

My sincere appreciation to René Neville, the director of the Dance Project Whispers, Andrew Horowitz, the faculty supervisor, Sylvia Skok, the creator of the paintings, Neva Derewetzky, the composer of the music, and the fantastic dancers— Laura Ulrich, Jeanne Norton, Marielle Zuccolo, and Madisyn Mercado for generously sharing their perspectives and insights on the subject.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.