Abstracts 2019

Abstracts (in alphabetical order of the presenters)

Almási, Zsolt: Insertion, Politics and Duncan
Deletions, modifications and insertions in playtexts are common practice in the Hungarian theatrical appropriations of Shakespeare nowadays. These may be seen as violations of the sacred Shakespearean texts for the sake of updating his works for the present audience, or as genuine acts of bringing Shakespeare home, of making him speak to the present. In this paper, I shall argue that as of today in some of the productions insertions may reorient the political claims of the performances by reflecting on current political tendencies in Hungary. To prove my point, and to narrow down the analysis to a manageable size, I shall focus on only one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies, i.e. Macbeth, to a production (directed by Rémusz Szikszai) designed for a larger, public-funded theatre (Jászai Mari Theatre, Tatabánya, Hungary) premiered in 2018. In this production, I shall analyse a textual insertion, a speech delivered by Duncan to announce the new method of succession in Scotland. The analysis of this insertion may well exemplify the methods of politicising Shakespeare in public-funded theatres, and I will argue that when exploring a playtext one should not disregard the materialization of the speech on the stage either.


Aloui, Amira: The Early Modern Political Tragedy of the State: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ben Jonson’s Sejanus as political (counter) discourses
 In his 1971 study, J. W. Lever was the first to address the state in Jacobean drama and speak of what he terms as “the tragedy of state”. It may seem like an anachronism to speak of the ‘state’ in sixteenth-century England. However, it is possible to put the political apparatuses under the rubric of ‘the state’, or as an early form of what today’s conception of the state can be. Lever acknowledges an early modern awareness of the state and defines it as follows: State for the Jacobean dramatists was not the embodiment of a sacrosanct, God-ordained authority. Nor was it merely the instrument of this or that ruling class. Though entrenched in a system of privilege and oppression, it was recognized as an autonomous, self-perpetuating entity, with its own breed of agents and informers. (xx) In this regard, my present research will be studying Hamlet and Sejanus as two tragedies of the state. The two plays are more than a ‘mere’ political commentary on the state. They can rather be seen as two plays that address the emerging notion of the modern state and the cultural politics behind it, as well as the crisis of/within the state. Therefore, I will be studying early modern political thought and how it is represented onstage. I will be tracing a brief genealogy of different political apparatuses starting from medieval times to early modern monarchy. Republicanism, republican ideals, and visions of utopias were repeatedly addressed by the stage. The two plays under examination, however, end on an equally pessimistic tone. I will be presenting concepts of the state both onstage and offstage as the two key aspects of my research project, and delineate how these two plays in particular can be seen as a political (counter) discourse. Hamlet and Sejanus can be seen as two plays that advance an avant la lettre awareness of the (crises of the) state as an institutionalised phenomenon.


Bernáth, András: Religion, Idolatry and Bardolatry in Shakespeare’s Tragedies and their Reception
The paper discusses some religius issues in Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, considering them in their original, early modern context and also in their modern reception. While these plays are permeated with religious references, Shakespeare’s theatre and his plays have traditionally been regarded as secular, and approched mostly from secular perspectives. In recent decades, however, there has been a “religious turn” in Shakespeare studies too. Even so, some interpretations of the religious elements are arguable, perhaps in line with the dilemmas and ambiguities of the plays themselves. Idolatry specifically appears in Romeo and Juliet, and it was a key issue in Elizabethan England as well. In the reception, however, Bardolatry is also a major issue. The paper also considers how this almost religious awe concerning Shakespeare can be related to some of his characters and their reception.


Bús, Éva: John Poole’s Hamlet Travestie with Burlesque Annotations as a mirror shown up to the nature of early 19th-century Shakespeare criticism
The conspicuous growth in the number of the editions of Shakespeare’s works published in the 19th century is apparently paralleled by a no less conspicuous rise of popular interest in the Bard’s legacy. It would be difficult to claim with absolute certainty that the latter was a direct consequence of the former, but it would be equally difficult to separate the two phenomena. One thing is sure, though: it is in the 19th century that Shakespeare, and especially, “Shakespearean language” become “gradually appropriated” (Bate, “Parodies of Shakespeare” 1985, 75) into contemporary high and low brow culture. The two aspects, that is, the high and (somewhat) low(er) brow manifestations seem to come face to face (and, we might add, go hand in hand) in John Poole’s Burlesque Annotations which function as the last two acts of his Hamlet Travestie (1810). In my paper I want to discuss how Poole’s play mirrors recent editorial practices, and certain aspects (if any) of contemporary Shakespeare criticism.


Cioni, Fernando:Shakespeare in performance: Authorship and multiple authorship in 18th and 19th centuries promptbooks and performance editions
From the Restoration to the late Romanticism, editors, revisors, actors, and theater managers appropriate the dramatics texts, engendering a multiple authorship de facto, both concerning the adaptation and the dramatic rewriting, and the theatrical performance. Through the study of the performance editions and the promptbooks of some of Shakespeare’s plays, I will point out this particular form of authorship and multiple authorship of Shakespeare’s texts that, when they are turned into texts for the theater, are appropriated, adapted, and rewritten.


Dávid, Gergő: A Wittgensteinian Investigation of Macbeth and Faustus
“I don’t know my way about” (49.123) is how Wittgenstein characterises the form of a philosophical problem in his Philosophical Investigations. Knowing how to proceed is intertwined with issues of anticipation, hope, expectation, and action. Furthermore, a sense of ambiguity and crisis permeate Wittgenstein’s works. All the aforementioned keywords can be linked to Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Both the scholar and the warrior-king find themselves in situations unfamiliar to them and they rely on the words of supernatural beings. However, the language games – to borrow Wittgenstein’s terminology – of these creatures are fundamentally different from those of Faustus and Macbeth. The two anti-heroes give contrasting responses to the supernatural based on the power of their imagination. The paper’s aim is to show how language games lure the protagonists into the “fly-bottle” of language and how their imaginative faculties exacerbate their plight. When discussing language I am going to rely on Wittgenstein’s works – primarily On Certainty and Philosophical Investigations – and I am contextualising issues related to imagination with the help of Montaigne’s Essays.


Fazekas, Sándor:A balrog és a Grál: Shakespeare Szonettjeinek új fordításáról
Szabó Lőrinc kanonikus fordítása kettős természetű: egyfelől a Szonetteket ismerté és közkedveltté tette, másfelől azonban sokakat inspirált a szövegek új és új megközelítésére, újraírására. Projektbeszámolóm elején összegzem saját, az eddigektől merőben eltérő alapelveimet, mutatok néhány fordítást, majd pedig reményeim szerint a beszámoló műhelymegbeszéléssé alakul, ahogyan ez a Magyar Shakespeare Bizottság idén tavaszi ülésén történt. Azóta szélesebb merítés áll rendelkezésre, még többféle kérdéssel és problémával, amelyek Shakespeare szóhasználatát, verselési elveit, világnézetét és képalkotását érintik.

Kling, Ádám Márton: Shakespeare and Early Modern English Culture in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and the Marvel 1602 Comic Books
British novelist and comic book writer Neil Gaiman is well-known for his interest in Shakespeare and early modern English literature and culture, especially in his critically acclaimed The Sandman series. However, his eight-part graphic narrative, titled Marvel 1602 (2003), co-produced with comic book artist Andy Kubert, and the various spin-offs of his work have enjoyed less attention so far. Gaiman’s Marvel 1602, which creates an alternative reality set in late Elizabethan England, not only reimagines the heroic fictional characters of modern times in a Shakespearean manner, but also reintroduces the era of the early modern English playwright to the modern reader. The primary goal of my research is to answer how and why the Shakespearean Myth as well as the culture and literature of the early modern English period appear in the context of graphic narratives. During my 20 minute project presentation I would like to showcase the discoveries of my research so far and elaborate on how exactly the special grammar of comic books, which is the careful mingling of text and imagery, helps in preserving the legacy of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries.


Matus-Kassai, Gyöngyi: Shakespeare and the Bible (Project title)
My research focuses on the relationship between Shakespeare’s dramas and the Bible: in terms of “Shakespeare Tenses”, how his works enter into dialogue with the past, the biblical text, and how the past is made relevant and present. On the one hand, this past is made present in early modern English culture in general through Bible translations; on the other hand, Shakespeare’s dramas provide an excellent example of how he used these texts to make his own art relevant for the contemporary audience. In recent decades, the field of Shakespearean studies has witnessed a growing interest in Shakespeare and religion. Scholarly works contributing to the ‘religious turn’ in the field (cf. Jackson, Marotti, Lupton) do not intend to theologically interpret Shakespeare, nor they want to settle the ever-disputed question whether Shakespeare himself was Protestant or Catholic, or religious at all, but they study religion as a way of thinking. I examine Shakespeare’s indebtedness to the Bible in a similar vein,. On the one hand, I am interested in whether and to what extent sixteenth-century translations of the Bible, and especially Tyndale’s translation – on which most later translations were based – had an effect on Shakespeare’s works. On the other hand, I am interested in examining key concepts in the plays which have strong connections with the Bible and the religious thinking of the era. In the case study, I would like to examine such a concept: friendship. I argue that there is a hitherto undiscovered link between the friendship of Rosalind and Celia from As You Like It and the one between David and Jonathan from the Books of Samuel. Both stories present an exceptionally strong friendship between two parties who could easily be each other’s rivals; one of them even defends the other against a jealous royal father. In this study, I examine this relationship in the context of Biblical, classical and Renaissance ideals of friendship.


Oroszlán, Anikó: Színésznők „micsodatartóban”: Női szereposztás és dramatikus hagyomány a Shakespeare-színpadon
A világ színjátszásában nagy múltja van annak, hogy egyes szerepeket az ellenkező nemhez tartozó színészek játsszák (cross-gender performance). Köztudomású, hogy az angol reneszánsz színpadon a női szerepeket férfiak alakították, és emiatt a Shakespeare-színjátszásban a mai napig sokkal elfogadottabbak az ún. all male cast produkciók, mint a kizárólagos női szereposztás. Ez az attitűd némileg reflektál a kora modern angol kultúrában tapasztalható férfiruhát viselő nővel szembeni ellenszenvre, ami megjelenik William Shakespeare A két veronai nemes című vígjátékában is: Júlia, Proteus szerelme tiltakozik az ellen, hogy komornája, Lucetta visszataszító „micsodatartót” (codpiece) varrjon a neki szánt férfijelmezhez (2. felv. 7. szín). Dolgozatom néhány elemzett példán keresztül azt a kérdést vizsgálja, hogy a #MeeToo és a politikai korrektség körüli viták korában milyen elemzési lehetőségei vannak a női cross-gender performance-nak olyan klasszikus, kánonalkotó, férfiközpontú drámaírók esetében, mint amilyen William Shakespeare. Úgy tűnik ugyanis, hogy bár a 19. század óta létezik a jelenség, hogy színésznők játsszák el Shakespeare híres tragikus férfikaraktereit (a legismertebb Sarah Bernhardt Hamletje), a kritika mégsem tud érdemben mit kezdeni a női Macbethekkel, Richárdokkal és Prosperókkal. Ezért az előadás arra is keresi a választ, hogy a klasszikus angol (nemzeti) színjátszás tradícióit milyen kihívások elé állítja ez a nem mimetikus, a női testet középpontba helyező, és a Shakespeare-színpadon általánosan tapasztalható férfi nézőpontot és játékhagyományt megingató jelenség, ami, bár felforgatónak, forradalminak és újszerűnek tűnhet, az angol színháztörténetben mégsem teljesen ismeretlen.


P. Müller, Péter: Shakespeare on non-Shakespearean stages: some Hungarian productions with subversive space usage
From the last third of the 19th century until World War I, the company of Ferdinand Fellmer and Hermann Helmer have designed and built 48 theatres in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Bohemia, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, and in the Ukraine. These theatre buildings look pretty much the same nowadays, especially their inner structure, regarding the stage and the auditorium. This type of boxset or proscenium theatre can be found all around the Western world, including the West End, and the Broadway.
It is well-known however that Shakespeare wrote for a different theatrical space, although sometimes the King’s Men performed indoor, in Royal Palaces. Nonetheless, the majority of Shakespeare’s plays was written for a stage surrounded from three sides by the audience, lit by daily light, using two main side doors, and three structural levels of performance.
The contradiction between the implied stage structure in the Shakespeare dramas and their production framed within the 19th-20th century standard theatre form have made many directors to struggle with these traditionally given theatrical spaces, and led some of them to an innovative, sometimes subversive usage either of the common proscenium theatre form or, staging Shakespeare within a significantly different space.
The present paper focuses on some Hungarian Shakespeare productions in which the traditional stage structure, the proscenium stage is the visual framework of the performance. Nonetheless, the production uses this traditional, bourgeois space structure in a way that the performance leaves the “fourth wall”, and the bourgeois stage illusion. Major interpreted examples are the production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream opera directed by Sándor Zsótér in Szeged in 2001. There at one point of the performance the chorus occupied the balcony boxes and embraced the audience by their voice. In the production of Hamlet directed by László Bagossy in Örkény Theatre in 2014, the set included a stand of a sport stadium facing the audience where the plot and the political manoeuvres mirrored the contemporary off theatre processes. In the production of Richard III at Radnóti Theatre directed by Andrei Serban in 2018 the set evoked the Elizabethan stage structure with its levels, symmetries and golden ratio.
Beside these examples of the usage of traditional boxset stage there have been other Hungarian Shakespeare productions which were put into other kind of spaces, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by János Csányi in Merlin (later moved into Bárka) Theatre in 1995 with the audience sitting on swings on two levels, and on the floor. Furthermore, the production of Hamlet directed by Tim Carroll in Bárka Theare in 2005 where spectators were seated randomly in the hall of the production and the play took place among them without the use of any separate stage.


Reuss, Gabriella: Memories of theatre performances. The cultural impact of Shakespearean acting copies
What I plan is writing a monograph in English that is similar to (but not identical with) my ‘Shakespeare Londonban és Pest-Budán. Színházi előadások emlékezete’.  My claim is that the value of these British acting copies and their role in shaping traditions of both acting and spectating is quite underestimated. The Hungarian book centred around Macready’s 1834 experimental restoration of King Lear and his promptbook, and approached the great eras branded by great actors (David Garrick, Edmund Kean, John Philip Kemble, W. C. Macready, Henry Irving) in the usual chronological order. The present project, however, thematically addresses the functions the so-called acting copies performed. To point out the unique role the so-called acting copies played in British theatre history the working title is ‘Memories of theatre performances. The cultural impact of Shakespearean acting copies.’ The acting copy, which is an illustrated promptbook and that is published in print, is in a quite liminal position, in-between the performance and the literary-dramatic text. It is usually published with a frontispiece that adds, evidently to legitimize itself: “accurately transcribed from the promptbook”, “as it is now performed”. Shakespeare was popularly known for the wider public from these publications, and notably not from Johnson’s or Steevens’s scholarly editions), so it is worth looking at what exactly these publications were like and the way they influenced the contemporary reception, and the viewing of Shakespeare.


Ruttkay, Veronika: Experimental Stages: Drama as the matter of fact from the Enlightenment to early Romanticism
This paper looks at how (Shakespearean) drama became the matter of “fact” from the era of the late Enlightenment to early Romanticism. In the wake of David Hume’s powerful call for the “anatomy” of the human mind in A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40), a number of critics proposed to obtain “facts” about human nature through the close reading of dramatic texts. Shakespeare’s tragedies in particular were singled out by Henry Home, Lord Kames, William Richardson, Alexander Gerard, and others, as offering “experiments” that revealed the otherwise hidden effects of powerful passions on the mind. But the nature of such “experiments” and the status of the “facts” yielded by them remained highly ambiguous. In my paper, I look at a selection of philosophical, critical, theatrical, and scientific writings from around 1800 in order to find out what kinds of knowledge were sought in (Shakespearean) drama in the formative years of British Romanticism.


Schandl, Veronika: Questions of the Shakespeare Burlesque – Then and Now
The heyday of the Shakespeare burleque was the nineteenth century when illegitimate theatres showcased travesties of Shakespeare’s works laden with puns and contemporary references, visual gags, cross-dressing and over-the-top costume and stage design – mainly to critique Shakespeare’s cultural worth and to ridicule the authentic productions’ claim for authenticity. The paper wishes to engage itself with the possible research fields these plays might offer to scholars. Furthermore, it also aims to highlight a current trend in contemporary Shakespeare productions that indicates the re-emergence of the burlesque as an interpretational trend.


Stróbl, Erzsébet: Present and Continuous: I. Erzsébet kultusza
Az angolszász történelmi emlékezetben Shakespeare mellett I. Erzsébet királynő alakja is kultikus jelentőségűvé nőtt. E kultusz mind a mai napig az érdeklődés középpontjában áll, amit az utóbbi két évtized Erzsébet királynőről szóló tudományos könyveinek nagy száma, és populáris filmjei, illetve filmsorozatai is jeleznek. Jelen előadás egy magyar nyelvű, a kultusz eredetével foglalkozó mű egy fejezetét mutatja be, amelynek központjában a királynő egyik kultuszformáló látogatása, Kenilworth kastélyában, 1575-ben megrendezett szórakoztatása áll. Erre az alkalomra Shakespeare is utalást tesz majd húsz évvel később keletkezett Szentivánéji Álom című darabjában, jelezvén, hogy akkorra már széles körben ismertté és referenciaértékűvé vált az esemény. Az alkalomról fennmaradt két nyomtatott forrás elemzése rá kíván világítani mind Erzsébet királynő országjárásainak kultuszalakító szerepére, mind pedig a kenilworth-i látogatás különleges jelentőségére.


Zámbóné Kocic, Larisa: Tanult házsártok: Képzett nők és társadalmi visszahatás Shakespeare Makrancos hölgyében
Tanulmányomban Shakespeare Makrancos hölgy (The Taming of the Shrew) c. darabját egy tágabb kontextus, az úgynevezett shrew narratívák – shrew a házsártos angol főnévi megfelelője – keretében vizsgálom, különös tekintettel a nők kora újkori képzésére, műveltségére. Célom túllépni azon törekvéseken, amelyek a fenti kontextusra, illetve abból adódóan a shrew szó jelentésének kétértelműségére  hagyatkozva szeretnék a korunk számára, a feminista kritikát követően, emészthetőbb szövegként bemutatni Shakespeare nőgyűlölő darabját. Szeretnék ugyanis rávilágítani a darab értelmezése (és többnyire színrevitele) során mellőzött részleteire, amelyek proto-feminista utalásokkal bírnak, ellentétben a darab cselekményével és recepciótörténetével. Végezetül, egymás mellé helyezve e részleteket és a kora újkor nők neveléséről alkotott nézeteket, új adaptációs lehetőségeket szeretnék felvetni a Makrancos hölgy számára.