« It was our first steps taken in Hungary, more precisely in Budapest where we were given a warm welcome by Kader Lejri, Anna Lakos and Julien Couzy from the Institut français.
For three days we met students from different universities who were passionate about the French language and had worked on translating excerpts from plays (in this case Moi aussi je suis Catherine Deneuve by Pierre Notte, Terre sainte by Mohamed Kacimi and Burn baby burn by Carine Lacroix). Laurent Mulheisen (director of the Maison Antoine Vitez ) and Marc Martin (French-Hungarian translator) assisted Anna Lakos in hosting the discussion where questions around translating soon came up.
How to translate the idiom - as opposed to the language - including puns, expressions and styles?
"You have to let your mind wander a bit," said Laurent Mulheisen about his numerous translating experiences, to forget the text and detach from the words in order to get closer to the meaning, tempo and idiom.
Many fruitful hours were spent at the theater museum in Buda which resulted in two days of readings at the brand new National Theater on the banks of the Danube in Pest. The actors in the troupe were excellent, putting the text to good use and also reading L'Enéide by Olivier Kemeid and La Mélancolie des barbares by Koffi Kwahulé.
The theater is run by Róbert Alföldi whose programing choices* have caused a lot of controversy and a huge wave of racism and homophobia that has reached all the way up to the parliament. The Jobbik party (an extreme right-wing party that is the third largest in the country) asked in the middle of the session how long the National Theater was planning to mock the holy trinity of "work, family fatherland". The answer: "we'll settle that too." Thus in all likelihood Róbert Alföldi will simply be dismissed before the end of the season. It's hard to believe.
Keep in mind that the government, headed by the newly and widely reelected prime minister Viktor Orban (Fidesz conservative party), is taking aggressive authoritarian measures to control the media, change electoral laws, reform institutions by restricting the authority of the Constitutional Court and abolishing the Council of State ( ! )… This is happening right here in Europe - and it sends chills down your spine. Moreover, Hungary will be the head of the European Union starting January 1st. Without deluding ourselves, let's hope this presidency will shine a light on their clearly fascist domestic policies.
These discussions between hosts and guests are also about that. Discovering how other people are living, what conditions are like for artists, and how self-expression is being increasingly muzzled and controlled in certain places right here in Europe.
Köszönöm szépen (thank you very much) to everyone. »
* With Pál Závada's play Hungarian Festival