Translations was first performed at the Guildhall, Derry, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, 23 September 1980. It was the first production by the Field Day Theatre Company founded by Friel and Stephen Rea. It was directed by Art Ó Briain and featured the following cast:
- Mick Lally (Manus)
- Ann Hasson (Sarah)
- Roy Hanlon (Jimmy Jack)
- Nuala Hayes (Máire)
- Liam Neeson (Doalty)
- Brenda Scallon (Bridget)
- Ray McAnally (Hugh)
- Stephen Rea (Owen)
- David Heap (Captain Lancey)
- Shaun Scott (Lieutenant Yolland)
"Translations" received its American premiere at Cleveland Play House in 1981, starring Richard Halverson as Hugh. The production was directed by Kenneth Albers with scene and lighting design by Richard Gould. The play was staged in New York City later that year by the Manhattan Theatre Club, starring Barnard Hughes. It was briefly revived on Broadway in 1995 in a production starring Brian Dennehy. In 2006–2007, the Manhattan Theatre Club returned it to the stage at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey and the Biltmore Theatre in New York, directed by Garry Hynes.
The play was published in 1981 by Faber and Faber, who still publish it today. It is published in the United States and performance rights are held by Samuel French Inc. It is a set text on the Leaving Certificate English curriculum in Ireland and, in the United Kingdom, it remains a popular set text among English and Drama & Theatre A-Level students, as well as being a List B text in the ELLA4 part of the English Language and Literature B ALevel. It won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize for 1985.
An Irish-language version of the play has been produced. The play has also been translated into Welsh by Elan Closs Stephens. The Welsh version has visited a number of venues in Wales and was first published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, under its Welsh title Torri Gair ("Breaking the Word"), in 1982.
Translations was adapted as a radio play directed by Kirsty Williams, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, on 4 September 2010 (see Translations (radio play)).
"Translations" was adapted for a Catalan audience in February, 2014 by Ferran Utzet, and performed at the Biblioteca de Catalunya (Library of Catalonia) in Barcelona. It was produced by Perla 29.
April 15-19, 2015: Pace Performing Arts (Pace University) New York, NY. Presented at the Schaeberle Studio Theatre, and playing to sell-out crowds over its 7 show run, Translations was directed by Lester Thomas Shane. The show starred Nikk Lopex (Manus), Hayley Griffith (Sarah), Jeremy Kreuzer (Jimmy Jack), Madison Reiske (Máire), Declan Eells (Doalty), Cydnie Hampton (Bridget), Keith Boratko (Hugh), Mikey Anderson (Owen), Jade Ziane (Captain Lancey) and Riley Galt Suter (Lieutenant Yolland).