In 1997 the Institute of English and American Studies launched the first English-language drama specialization in Hungary as part of the English program at what was then called Lajos Kossuth University (now University of Debrecen, since 2000). Together with the Hungarian Society for the Study of Drama in English (HUSSDE), the Institute decided to organize a festival as a way to close out the four-semester-long program and give the graduating students an occasion to present their production. English drama groups from other universities were also invited to perform at this event. The first festival, which took place May 7–8, 1999, turned out to be such a success that, every year after that, the organizers staged the English-language theater productions as a grand competition among the performing students. The festival presented awards to the best performances, the best male and female actors, and starting in 2007 to the best director as well. (The latter is called the “Dick St George Award”, named after Dick St George (SUNY Brockport, USA), a visiting professor in Debrecen, in recognition of his high-quality work towards the success of the 2007 festival.) The festival was staged for the tenth and last time in 2010. (The program for this final festival is directly accessible on the homepage of the Institute of English and American Studies.) The mastermind behind the festival, the director, and the coordinator for the drama specialization all in one was Péter Szaffkó. Materials related to the previous drama festivals can be found and researched on location in the independent archive of the Institute of English and American Studies.
The final drama specialization class graduated in 2012; after that, the program was discontinued. Since then, the Performing Skills and Performing Scenes classes offered by the department have given students the opportunity to take part in drama activities in English. The tradition of English-language theater also lives on among the Institute’s former students. Confuse-A-Cat Ltd., a theater troupe organized by former IEAS students, has dazzled drama enthusiasts with new productions year after year (including their most successful performance of Zoo Story by Edward Albee, as well as The War Room, based on the works of Peter George and Stanley Kubrick, The Collection by Harold Pinter, and an adaptation of A.R. Gurney’s drama Love Letters). We hope that our new troupe, Nonsuch Co., will carry on these traditions as well.
Documents related to the previous drama festivals can be found on the homepage of the University of Debrecen Institute of British and American Studies: http://ieas.unideb.hu/index.php?p=125
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