Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Opening Speech #V4Shakespeare

I spent Monday and Tuesday (2-3 December) at a conference we organized at Pázmány Péter Catholic University. These were two awe-inspiring days, when we listened to each others' project descriptions and aimed at finding the common denominators. The theme was "Shakespeare in Central Europe after 1989: Common heritage, national identity," a topic that is both rather timely, interesting and also fascinating for people from the Post-Communist countries of the region.

Instead of providing a summary of what happened, I thought that my opening speech may capture the essence, the objective and atmosphere of the conference. So here it is!

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Hamlet, 1.5.186-8)

As at this conference and in the project we are dealing with Shakespeare’s theatrical reception, and from the theatre, we may well learn that words can be adapted to the present, let me adapt Hamlet’s words to the moment.

We, 14-15 participants in the project used to be strangers until Dr Jana Wild, Jana has welcomed us, brought us together, initiated this project. We should be and are grateful to her.

Our relationship with the Visegrád Fund was that of a stranger as well. The Visegrád Fund did not know us before, and yet they welcomed us, the reviewers found value in our project, the administrative staff helped us through the ups and downs of the application process. We, thus, are grateful to them as well.

And we as a research team were strangers to Pázmány Péter Catholic University, too. And yet the leaders of the university, the faculty and institute welcomed us. And also it was an angel, i.e. Zsuzsanna Angyal who was the first to welcome us, and who supported our endeavours in a million ways. Furthermore, neither the project nor the present conference could come into being without my dear colleagues, Dr Kinga Földváry, and Dr Gabriella Reuss, dear, dear Gabi and Kinga thank you so much. So for this welcome, our gratitude goes to them.

And though Dr. Wild welcomed us, and we have worked so far as a team, we are still strangers to each other. We, the 15 participants, from 4+2 countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland + Romania, UK) and 11 universities have been socialised in different educational, cultural, historical contexts, national identities. So welcoming each other in Hamlet’s manner is still a task ahead of us. We should and I am positive we are going to demonstrate that in spite of and with our differences we will form a cooperative, supportive scholarly team that aims at unravelling the mysteries of that aspect of the universe that we have chosen and by our education and interest are determined to.

God may help us in our endeavours!