Salford academic’s English translated version of acclaimed Hungarian play set for premiere

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A thrilling and irreverent play from one of Hungary’s most highly acclaimed writers has been translated for an exclusive English language world premiere by a University of Salford academic.

Dr Szilvi Naray, Programme Leader for English and Drama & Lecturer in Drama and Translation Studies, has translated and directed a new production of The Bat, a contemporary Hungarian drama from the award-winning poet and writer Krisztina Tóth.

Premiering at the New Adelphi Studio Theatre on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 September, the production from Dr Naray’s professional theatre company, Ignition Stage, is a veiled, dark humoured critique of Hungarian society as it follows the ‘descent into hell’ of our protagonist after a rubber bat goes missing from a school nursery in a story that leads to hatred, blame, suspicion and eventually, tragedy.

The play follows on from Dr Naray and Ignition Stage’s previous translation and production of fellow Hungarian János Háy’s The Dead Man at our MediaCity campus last July, which was recently the winner of the Best Cultural Sector Collaboration Award at the University’s Celebration of Innovation Awards.

On The Bat, Dr Naray said: “Translated drama is a very important way for us to engage with what is happening in other countries. By translating their work, we are translating cultures and providing a window into the other. It’s an act of cultural transfer.

The Bat is fresh, vibrant and entertaining new play that offers the author’s microcosmic representation and critique of the non-liberal Christian democracy that today’s Hungary stands for.”

Dr Naray says the play is a ‘grotesque portrayal of the traps that the Buda hill bourgeoisie sets itself’ and that it attempts to ‘shed light on how many roles women must compete in and the prejudices they must face and fight if they are successful or well-known.’

She believes that her unapologetic foreignised translation strategy and her mise-en–scène will hit multiple nerves with a UK audience as they might just recognise themselves in the ‘otherness’ that Krisztina Toth’s play depicts.

BA English and Drama third-year student Jessica Bradshaw has been the stage manager and assistant director on the play and Ian Scullion, who has been designing sets for Ignition Stage since 2008, is behind the show’s stage design.

Attendees to the performance on Friday 29 September, will also be able to an attend an exclusive and exciting Q&A with the author Krisztina Tóth after the play.

On The Dead Man’s award win, Dr Naray added: “I am very thankful to the University for this award. It makes me want to do more translations because the audience loved it so much. We had a packed house and there was such a buzz on the night.”

Dr Naray’s passion for translating Hungarian drama has also led to her writing a new book, entitled ‘Plays from Contemporary Hungary: ‘Difficult Women and Resistant Dramatic Voices.’

It is a unique collection of five contemporary plays from the 21st century Hungary, translated into English for the first time. Edited and introduced by Szilvi, the book explores not only the themes of these works but also the translation strategy behind them, providing a lens for understanding the paradox that modern Hungary is. The book is released in February 2024. 

Tickets for the performance, which starts at 19:30 on both days, can be purchased via Eventbrite with a third performance taking place at The Kings Arms in Bloom Street at 19:30 on Tuesday 3 October.

Poster for The Bat

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