Theatre professor Neil Blackadder awarded translation grant

2011 Translation Fund Grant from the PEN American Center

July 25, 2011

Neil Blackadder
Neil Blackadder directs a rehearsal at Knox College

Knox College theatre professor Neil Blackadder has received a grant from PEN, a leading international writers' and human rights organization, to support his English translation of a German-language play about a paternity test that disrupts one family's tranquility.

The PEN American Center awarded Blackadder a 2011 Translation Fund Grant for his forthcoming translation of "The Test," by Swiss playwright Lukas Barfuss.

Blackadder's translation is one of just 11 projects selected by PEN from more than 130 applicants in 2011.

"'The Test' is one of Barfuss's most successful plays, and has been staged at major theatres across Germany," PEN said in its announcement of the grant.

The play is about a mild-mannered German businessman who learns, via a genetic test, that he is not the biological father of his child. "The shocking results of a paternity test and its moral implications force an agonizing examination into what defines a family," PEN said in a news release.

Each translator will receive a $3,000 grant from PEN's 2011 Translation Fund. The fund is supported in part by a grant of $25,000 from

Earlier this year, Blackadder received a grant from the Howard Foundation to support his translations of "The Test" and two other plays by Barfuss -- "Malaga" and "Alice's Trip to Switzerland." His translation of another Barfuss play, "The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents," has been praised by critics and performed in both London and New York.

Blackadder has taught at Knox since 1998. Most recently he directed the Knox production of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King." In addition to several other play translations, his publications include the book "Performing Opposition: Modern Theater and the Scandalized Audience."

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.