Recently I have been very fortunate with conferences on theatre. To be honest, I have been more fortunate with them than with actual theatre performances, as the last several productions I happened to watch proved to be fairly poor choices. Nevertheless, last Friday I attended the Yeats 150 Symposium, a symposium on Yeats, the dramatist. And I must tell it was a rather special experience.
Ideally every conference has a sort of a conclusion, when all the lectures have finished, and the participants can ponder about the presentations. But this time I do not mean thinking about the presentations individually, but I would say the lectures all together had an overall message.
Some of the opening speeches were given by Pat Kelly, the Ambassador Designate of Ireland to Hungary, Dr. Borhy László the Dean of Faculties of Humanities at ELTE, Dr. Eglantina Remport, the co-ordinator of Irish Studies Programme at ELTE, and Mónika Mesterházi, literary translator. Only by looking at these names, can we tell that the whole conference was a collaboration of people from various fields.
In the introduction of Professor Anthony Roche’s latest book (Irish Dramatic Revival), he referred to Dr. Michael McAteer’s (PPCU) various studies several times, which is a reassuring proof of scholarly dialogue. As he mentioned, he agreed on various points of the statements that he quoted or paraphrased from Professor McAteer, however, they approached certain issues from different angles.
In order to give a rough outline of the conference it should be added that the latter presentations were about distinctly different topics. At least this might have been the impression of one, who reads the titles of those lectures. Dr. Natália Pikli (ELTE) delivered a lecture on Irving’s and Stanislavsky’s theatre, Professor Remport had a very visual presentation on the artistic influence of Whistler on Edward Gordon Craig’s scenery, and on some plays of Yeats. After the short coffee break, Dr. Gabriella Reuss (PPCU) took the stage and spoke about the Hungarian link of the whole issue, including puppetry, and the philological presentation of the correspondence between Craig and Sándor Hevesi. Dr. McAteer presented the contradiction of Stasis and Ex-stasis in the theatre of Maeterlinck and of Yeats.
The speeches could not have been organised any better, as every presentation included some elements of prefiguration to the following presentation. There was a clear chain of thought in the lectures; the four of them somehow continued and completed each other. After the last one the audience – maybe I should only speak for myself – could experience a feeling of fullness, a tiny catharsis that I have been missing from the performances recently.
All in all, it seems that nowadays I have been luckier with theoretical conferences than with actual theatre performances, but this previous symposium just compensated for my recent bad experience. In my view, the overall conclusion of the conference is the undeniable importance of the co-operation of contemporary scholars and the interdisciplinary nature of their studies. Any sort of result can only be achieved by the extensive presence of co-operation, though sometimes we tend to forget that academic work is not a solitary activity.
Source of Images: Selmeczi Tamás