Friday, 2 December 2016

Obituary József Gedeon

József Gedeon (Igor Grín 2008)
József Gedeon, manager of the Castle Theatre in Gyula, Hungary, organizer of the Shakespeare Festival (Gyula), member and founder of many Hungarian and international art associations, died Nov. 25. He was 60 years old.

József Gedeon was born in Gyula, spent most of his life in his hometown with the exception when he studied in Szeged, where he obtained his degree in Comparative Literature, and in Budapest to study Art and Design Management at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design. When in his hometown he worked as an extra and then as an actor in theatrical productions, was a teacher of Literature and English, was the head of the Cultural Department of the Local Government, and became the director of the Castle Theatre in 1995. As the director of the Theatre he organized the annual Summer Festival, part of which was the Shakespeare Theatre Festival. He also brought into being an International Jazz festival. He was the founding member of the Hungarian Erkel Ferenc Society, the Association of Outdoors Theatres, the Hungarian-British Friendship Society at Gyula, and member of the Steering Committee of the Hungarian Shakespeare Committee, initiator and founder of the European Shakespeare Festivals Network.

József Gedeon was a man of vision, charisma and uncompromising power. His achievements as a local cultural patriot, as a national and international figure of cultural life need no further commentary. I have known him since the refoundation of the Hungarian Shakespeare Committee, when he was invited to act as an active member of the board of the committee. Since then I have been in touch with him in a variety of capacities, mostly owing to events related to Shakespeare’s reception. He was full of energy and enthusiasm for whatever he was involved in: he was keen on giving a lecture on the history of the Hungarian Shakespeare Festival (he travelled 300 kms to Budapest and another 300 back home for this speech). Besides being passionate and knowledgeable about Shakespeare, the theatre, Gyula, he was always happy to listen to other people’s opinions, he was open to discussions concerning the conference during the Shakespeare Festival, but he was also able to disagree when he found reason for doing so.

His death does not solely fill everybody who knew him with remorse but also creates a vacuum in the Hungarian cultural, theatrical life, also in the Hungarian Shakespeare reception, a vacuum that can hardly be filled. A man of heart and steel has been lost, a man who was one of us and also above us, a man who made history, cultural history, a man we on every side of Shakespeare reception sorely miss.

Zsolt Almási
Secretary of the Hungarian Shakespeare Committee