György Endre Szőnyi (DSc),
professor; Director, Institute for English and American Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Szeged
The Iconology of Power. Shakespeare at 450 and the Szeged Open Air Theatre
My talk is inspired by Clifford Geertz's definition of culture which I have developed as follows: "culture is a social practice of multimedial, self-reflexive, and narrative representations by the help of which a community constructs, interprets, and operates its own identity." Identity is inseparable from the ideology and practice of power, while one of the most complex forms of cultural representation is the theatrical performance and its idea, the drama. The stories put on stage are almost entirely about power relations, whether taken from political or private life, ambition, jealousy, competition, love. Different ages have been using different visual means – tradition-based iconology – to vividly represent these power relations. Prompted by the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, I shall compare the iconology of power in Shakespeare's time with that of the contemporary modern theatre. Here I shall also look at the Shakespeare-stagings during the decades of the Szeged Open Air Theatre (Midsummernight's Dream, 1963; Hamlet, 1967; Romeo and Juliet, 1972; King Lear, 1977; Richárd III, 2002).