Speakers’ Biographies

Karen Witthuhn (Administration GETTING ACROZZ)
was born in 1969 and studied Drama in Theatre, Film & TV at the University of Bristol. Since 1995, she has worked as a director, dramaturg and production manager at municipal theatres, in the independent scene and for international theatre festivals such as PAZZ and Theaterformen.
Since 2000, she has been a freelance literary translator from English to German of mostly theatre plays and texts as well as novels and film scripts.  She is also specialized in surtitles for theatre productions. In 2009, she joined Transfiction, a synergy of literary translators, which she co-runs with Lucy Renner Jones.

Yvonne Griesel (Administration Symposium)
is a qualified interpreter for Russian and French. She wrote her PhD dissertation on “Surtitling in Theatre” at the Humboldt University, Berlin in 2006. She actively participates in theory and practice, teaching and translation and is the author of Translation im Theater (2000) and Die Inszenierung als Translat (2007). She works as freelance surtitler, translator and interpreter. With SprachSpiel, she has specialised in finding the appropriate form of transfer for every theatre production, whether it be synopsis, surtitles or interpretation.

David Maß (Administration Symposium)
founded the Kleine Internationale Theater Agentur (Small International Theatre Agency) in 2006, which specialises in translations and surtitles. Permanent cooperation partners in Berlin include the HAU, Deutsches Theater, the Schaubühne, the Volksbühne and the Berliner Festspiele. He is often on the road for national and international festivals as communication is always most in demand where borders are crossed. His vision is that the surtitler will soon be regarded as a key member of the creative and technical team, and as a matter of course will travel with the touring production. He is pleased that appreciation of good surtitling has grown over the last few years among artists, theatres and festivals and that its contribution to the success of a guest performance is gradually being recognised. Since 2011, he has been a founding member of TEATRIS, a network of theatre-makers and lovers resident in Berlin-Wedding whose aim it is to connect creative people.

Andrea Zagorski  (Copyright and surtitling)
studied German and Theatre Studies at the Humboldt University, Berlin and has been a dramaturg at various theatres for both children and adult performance. Since 2002, she has worked for the Internationale Theaterinstitut Zentrum Deutschland (ITI). She is responsible for the area of contemporary drama and translation including the translator meetings during the Mülheimer Theatertage festival, the Festival of New Plays from Europe in Wiesbaden, the Academy for Inter-Generational Vision, and the symposium “play young” alongside Nina Peters during the Theater der Welt 2010 festival in Mülheim and Essen. In 2007 and 2009, she led the jury of New Canadian Drama for the Canadian Embassy and has been on the advisory board for the support of art and culture in Berlin/Pankow since 2008. She is the co-editor of various publications of international drama for Theater der Zeit as well as Stück-Werk 5, a textbook on young German-language authors.

Irja Grönholm (Simultaneous interpretation)
was born in 1951 in Eberswalde and lives in Berlin. After her ‘A’ levels in 1970, she obtained a degree in Biology after studying from 1970-74 at the University of Greifswald. From 1974-84, she was an academic assistant at the German Academy of Sciences at Berlin. Since 1984, she has been a freelance translator for Estonian literature (fiction, drama, children’s fiction and non-fiction). She has done numerous translations of novels and plays, and was the co-editor of estonia, a magazine for Estonian literature and culture from 1990-2004. She is the editor of estonia 2006 and estonia 2007, periodicals for Estonian literature. She has had numerous publications in anthologies and literary journals and has worked on documentary films, radio broadcasts and conferences among other things. She is a curator in Estonia (Kulturjahr der Zehn). Prizes and grants include the via estica prize for translations from Estonian awarded by the Estonian Writer’s Association in 1991; some short-term grants at the Künstlerhaus Schloß Wiepersdorf in 1993, 1994 and 1997; grant from the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby/Schweden 1994; residence grant at the European Translation Centre Straelen in 1996; order of the Republic of Estonia “Maarjamaa Rist V. Kl.” 2007; annual prize of the Estonian Cultural Capital for translation in 2008; shortlisted on the Brücke Berlin Prize 2010 with the translation of Eeva Park, Falle, unendlich.   

Isolde Schmitt (Simultaneous interpretation)
has worked for years as a surtitler and interpreter for Wiener Festwochen festival. She is also a freelance conference interpreter, translator, surtitler and subtitler as well as an editor at the University of Graz and Vienna. She has translated a book on Marcel Duchamp for the Piet Meyer Verlag/Basel (to be published in autumn 2010) and two children’s books (new edition/encyclopaedia “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “The Three Musketeers”, published in 2010 at the Verlag für Schule und Wissenschaft, Vienna). She is a qualified graduate interpreter for French and Russian (University of Vienna). In 1992, she finished the first stage in a law degree (cand. iur.) In 2004, she finished the foundation stage of feminist course and earned the title of Academic Consultant for Feminist Education.

Tabitha Allum (Surtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing)
is the Chief Executive of STAGETEXT, an organisation based in the UK which makes theatre performances and cultural talks accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people through captioning and speech-to-text transcription. She has been in post at STAGETEXT since the start of 2005. Previously, she worked as Touring Officer for Arts Council England, a role in which she advised theatres around their provisions for deaf and disabled people, and as a fundraiser for a theatre company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Uli Menke (Surtitling – Translation and Structure)
was born in 1968 in Möhnesee. After training to be a bookseller, he worked at the Heinrich Heine Buchhandlung, Berlin, at the P.U.F., Paris and at the Buchhandlung Knesebeck 11, Berlin. From 1992-1997 he graduated from a degree course in General and Comparative Literature, Religious Studies and Ethnology at the FU Berlin and in Paris, Vincennes / St. Denis. In 1997, he obtained a Maîtrise with Michel Deguy on Maurice Blanchot, «Thomas l’obscur». Since then, he has worked as a freelance translator and dramaturg. He lives in Brest.

Anke Nicolai (Audio description for the blind)
studied social work and social pedagogy. Since 1998, she has worked as an author for films with audio description, and as a freelance editor and sound director for public German, Swiss and Austrian television. She is a founding member of the organisation Hörfilm e.V – Vereinigung Deutscher Filmbeschreiber,  and was the chairperson from 2000-2011. Since 2006, she has led projects and created audio descriptions and has done live voice-over narration for integrative film, theatre and music events in cooperation with film festivals, municipal theatres and opera houses.  She has developed museum and tourist audio guides suitable for the blind and has given seminars and workshops. In 2012, she founded “audioskript”.
a.nicolai@audioskript.de, www.audioskript.de, www.hoerfilmev.de

Bernd Benecke (Audio descriptin for the blind)
is the head of Audio-Description at Bayerischer Rundfunk. He started with Audio Description in 1989 when the first movie was described in Germany. He worked as an Audio Description author and narrator for movie distributors, different
TV-stations and since 1997 for Bayerischer Rundfunk, where he built up the AD department. Today he mainly trains the authors and revises the Audio Description scripts. He is one of the authors of the German Audio Description guidelines and
heads workshops in countries around the world (Germany, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, South Africa). In 2007 he was part of an AD project at “Theater Konstanz”.

Francesca Spinazzi
(Alternative methods, synopses, programmes etc.)
was born in Milan, Italy and grew up in Lima, Peru. Since 1972, she has lived in Berlin, where she studied Romance languages, German and Theatre Studies.
Since then she has been an active curator for interdisciplinary projects in the fields of theatre, dance, music, film and literature. From 1978 to 1989 she worked with the Berliner Festspielen with a special emphasis on Eastern Europe, Israel, Africa, Latin America, Middle and Far East. She worked with Claudio Abbado during his creative direction of the Berlin Philharmonic and with Pina Bausch (at the Nordrhein-Westfalen festival in 2001, 2004 and 2008). She cooperated at various international festivals including Santiago de Compostela and Mulhouse. In 2008 she was a dramaturg at “Theater der Welt 2008″ in Halle/Saale.
She is currently a dance curator for the Nike Wagner/Kunstfest Weimar. Additionally, she works as a translator from German, Italian, French, English and Spanish.

Gudrun Hillert and Christian Pflugfelder (Sign language interpretation on stage)
Gudrun Hillert, born on 02.01.1970 in Braunschweig, is a qualified graduate sign language interpreter and has lived since 1996 in Potsdam. She is married and has three children. Since 2004, she has worked full-time at the Humboldt University, Berlin as a lecturer for sign language interpretation. After her ‘A’ levels, Gudrun studied in Hamburg to be a special needs teacher (first state examination) and is a graduate in sign language interpretation.

Christian Pflugfelder, born on 07.08.1973 in Stuttgart, is the child of deaf adults (CDA) and a state certified sign language interpreter. He has lived in Grafrath near München since 2010, is married and has five children. Since 2001, he has worked as an independent sign language interpreter. After school, Christian trained to be a typesetter. In 1991, he began to work as an interpreter for German  sign language, first in private circles and then officially.


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