9th World Shakespeare Congress brings renowned international Shakespeare scholars to Czech capital

Currently underway in Prague is the 9th World Shakespeare Congress, a six-day event that brings some 600 literary historians and other scholars to the Czech capital. It was jointly organized by the National Theater and Charles University and is entitled “Renaissance Shakespeare: Shakespeare Renaissances.” One of the local congress organizers, Charles University’s Prof. Martin Procházka, speaks about the highlights so far, what significance the congress has for Charles University and what its mission is.

“The World Shakespeare Congress is a world-wide gathering of Shakespeare specialists, theatre historians, culture historians and literary scholars and historians dealing with and writing about not only Shakespeare but also Elizabethan age and early modern time’s theatre but also about adaptations and appropriations of Shakespeare in the contemporary world.”

Prague is hosting the 9th edition of the congress. What were some of the highlights and some of the interesting guests?

“I think the most interesting lecture, and I am proud of it, was the lecture of our best Shakespeare translator, Prof. Martin Hilský. Apart from that, we had a lecture by Stanley Wells, who is now a doyen of Shakespeare studies, and has written about 40 books on Shakespeare.

Martin Hilský
“Today, we have a very interesting lecture by Janet Sears, who is a black Canadian dramatist, about adaptations of Shakespeare. She herself authored an adaptation of Othello titled Harlem Duet.”

I believe there are two local institutions hosting the congress – Charles University and the National Theatre. How important is it for the university to be involved in such international events?

“We benefit from it greatly, because we have common programs with some universities that contribute to this congress, be it with speakers or by arranging seminars, etc. And of course, it is making Charles University visible in global terms, because we have visitors from all five continents. We have speakers from what are, I would say, some of the best universities, such as Harvard or Oxford. All this is extremely important, as it was of course acknowledged by our vice-chancellor Prof. Václav Hampl, who spoke at the opening.”

Martin Procházka
And what can we expect for the last day of the congress?

“Tomorrow we have a plenary, which is a kind of conversation, between Czech theater people, a director and a literary adviser, and a quite famous Georgian director, Robert Sturua, and an American professor who for a long time was a chairman of the International Shakespeare Association. It will mainly be about staging Shakespeare under communism.”