Translated Hungarian drama comes to life in Salford academic’s theatrical book launch

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A University of Salford academic is holding a theatrical experience to launch her new book which translates five celebrated contemporary Hungarian plays into English for the first time.

Dr Szilvi Naray, Programme Leader for English and Drama & Lecturer in Drama and Translation Studies, is inviting all to the unveiling of her book Plays from Contemporary Hungary: ‘Difficult Women’ and Resistant Dramatic Voices on Thursday 7 March in the Digital Performance Lab on our MediaCity campus.

The launch will begin with a short reading from the book and a brief talk about why translation matters including extracts from three of the book’s plays; Krisztina Tóth’s The Bat, György Spiró’s Prah and János Háy’s The Dead Man.

A ‘Ted-talk’ style discussion will follow from Dr Naray about the importance of translation, demystifying the relationship between ‘us and them’ and breaking down existing prejudices that British people have about Eastern European literature and theatre.

This will then be followed up with an exciting Q&A discussion between Dr Naray and Ursula Hurley, Professor of Life Writing at the University, about the book and the characters within its stories.

Dr Naray, who also runs the theatre company Ignition Stage, said: “This launch will take people beyond the book to understand why I have translated these plays and why translation is so important.

“Translation is a way of travelling abroad without leaving the country. It’s a way of opening up ourselves to others. Books in this country are very insular with only 3% of texts translated whilst in Germany and Italy, it is 80%.

“Inspired by the play's micro-budget productions, this edited collection provides students, readers and small theatre companies alike a chance to engage with these witty, politically irreverent stories of powerful women and explore what it means to be a family unit, all the while pushing against Hungary's dominant hegemony."

Each of the five plays are written by some of Hungary’s most prolific and commercially successful dramatic voices who have each been in direct conflict with Viktor Orbán’s Hungarian Government.

Dr Naray says that the book is ‘a well overdue, essential collection that offers a microcosmic lens for understanding the paradox that today’s Hungary exemplifies.’

She added: “These plays reflect what Hungary has been going through from the change of regime, from Soviet to free market to Orbán. There’s extreme forms of capitalism, absurdist events, anti-heroes obsessed with climbing the social ladder that experience tragedy and strong leading female protagonists.”

The launch follows on from Dr Naray’s previous live performances of two of the book’s translated plays – The Bat and The Dead Man that were well-received upon their debuts.

The book Plays from Contemporary Hungary: ‘Difficult Women’ and Resistant Dramatic Voice, published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, is available to buy now from Waterstones, Bloomsbury and other booksellers.

The launch takes place from 6.30pm until 8pm on Thursday 7 March with complimentary wine served. Booking is essential and you can get your free ticket here.

Cover for Szilvi Naray's book Plays from Contemporary Hungary

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