Fame and Glory

I went to a performance of Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Mandrake at Gallaudet University last night. The program book contained a little biographical blurb for everyone who contributed to the play—Machiavelli, the cast, the props designer, etc.—except for the translator, Nerida Newbigin. At least they mentioned her name.

It was almost, but not quite, a bilingual production. Two of the actors were students at Gallaudet, who performed in pantomime, but I don’t think they used any actual sign language.

I tested my theory that plays would be easier to read in Hungarian than novels by downloading a copy of Bánk bán, a famous 19th century play by József Katona. Unfortunately it’s very early 19th century, and my modern Hungarian wasn’t up to the task. Then I looked for plays online by Ferenc Molnár, a famous 20th century playwright, without success. So I requested a couple of his plays from the Library of Congress, and within minutes got word that neither of them was on the shelf where they were supposed to be. My next round of requests was for four books, and this time I got three of them. Sure enough, these plays were a lot easier to read than the other material I’ve been working on. I photocopied the one of them, Harmónia, that could be laid flat with the least stress on the binding.

Most interesting phrase so far: széttolható üvegfal, which translates literally as “glass wall which is capable of being pulled apart”. (The compound széttolható isn’t in the dictionary, but all four pieces are common.) I would translate it as “sliding glass doors” (or possibly “partition”, if I thought it important to retain the sense of “wall”).