Abstracts of No. 2023/2, Volume 12

Abstracts of No. 2023/2, Volume 12

CRITICISM

Ildikó Bálint: Between Worlds
Theatre director and playwright Robert Icke adapted Arthur Schnitzler’s comedy Professor Bernhardi (1912) into a play entitled The Doctor in 2019. Since its birth, Icke’s play has been successfully performed in several European theatres. At the end of last year, it premiered in Romania on the stage of the Csiky Gergely Hungarian Theatre of Timișoara. Ildikó Bálint’s article examines the directorial tools employed by Andrei Șerban to create a painfully accurate vision of the sick society of our time through the fateful downfall of the protagonist.

Mónika Rancz: Du has(s)t
It is no coincidence that Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck has been adapted for the musical stage so many times, since the text itself is rich in musical references. Mónika Rancz’s review also has music in focus when analysing István Albu’s directorial take on Woyzeck, a staging combined with a Rammstein cover concert, as played by the Harag György Theatre Company of the Northern Theatre of Satu Mare.

Réka Hegyi: The Age of Corruption
The performance entitled Relatives presented by the Hungarian State Theatre of Cluj is an adaptation of Zsigmond Móricz’s classic novel of the same name. In her review, Réka Hegyi views the performance as the director László Bocsárdi’s homage to iconic theatre artists as Bertolt Brecht, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Tadeusz Kantor.

Katalin Gyürky: “There Is a Girl…”
In her review, Katalin Gyürky chooses a key sentence from Kosztolányi’s novel Anna Édes as a starting point, a sentence which is completely missing from the adaptation staged at the Hungarian State Theatre of Cluj, and then she examines the emphatic and consistent dramaturgical motivations and consequences of the omission of the quoted sentence in the performance directed by István Szabó K..

Tünde Kocsis: A Flight With Broken Wings
The performance entitled The Wave of the independent theatre company Váróterem Projekt (Waiting Room Project) based in Cluj is a stage adaptation of the 2008 German film by the same title. In her review, Tünde Kocsis traces the extent to which the production, set on a small studio stage, with its tight dramaturgy, succeeds in having a similarly disturbing, intimate and shocking effect on the audience as the film.

Ildikó Bálint: “If You Would Hear a High Tale of Love and of Death”
The theatre director Balázs Benő Fehér staged Friedrich Schiller’s well-known play (Intrigue and Love) under the title Intrigue vs. Love with the actors of the Tompa Miklós Company at the National Theatre of Târgu Mureș. Ildikó Bálint’s review explores how this theatrical experiment, using unconventional theatre spaces but conventional storytelling, becomes an unconventional theatrical experience.

Réka Fazakas: How Should We Make Theatre?
In her article, Réka Fazakas reports on the first module of this year’s three-part Reflex International Theatre Festival, which took place in March in Sfântu Gheorghe. Through the analysis of five performances, the author presents us with the valid answers provided by participating performances to the central question of the festival: is it possible, is it worth to make theatre today? Furthermore, we may find out what new questions the event raised about theatre making and reception.

Helga Balázs: Reflex Point
Helga Balázs overviews the second module of the Reflex International Theatre Festival organized in Sfântu Gheorghe. In her report, as she herself puts it, the author takes a sip of each festival performance along with her coffee, telling the reader: „if you were not there, you may still take a look into it, and if you were there, I wonder if we agree?”

ESSAY

Mónika Rancz: A Handful of Metaphors
The Fiddler on the Roof is one of the popular musicals played by Transylvanian Hungarian theatres. In the 2022-23 season, three theatres performed it in parallel. Both the “Csíki Játékszín” Theatre and the Harag György Company of the Northern Theatre of Satu Mare scheduled the premiere for January this year, while the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj has been playing it since 2020. Mónika Rancz’s study approaches and analyses the three performances from the point of view of metaphors. She turns them around like a Rubik’s cube, guessing where each rotation would lead, and keeps trying until a common pattern emerges.

INTERVIEW

Réka Dálnoky: We Watch the Trapeze Artist Because He Might Fall
The author interviews Andrew Hefler, an American-born improvisational theatre artist, on the occasion of the Tomcsa Sándor Theatre’s improvisational performance Afterparty. Andrew Hefler encountered Viola Spolin’s practical methods as a child and was later strongly inspired by the ideas of Keith Johnstone. The interview explores Hefler’s relationship with music, film and theatre, too, but it focuses primarily on exploring his theatrical thinking, which has at its core the idea that theatre should not be a safe space, and it has real stakes only when creators dare to lose.

Réka Bartha: Requiem für eine Jungfrau – A Hungarian Creative Trio in a German Adaptation of Antigone in Sibiu
Thomas Köck’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone premiered at the German Department of the “Radu Stanca” National Theatre of Sibiu in last December. The performance entitled antigone. ein requiem deals with social problems, tensions, dilemmas and especially the anomalies of the 21st century. In her article, Réka Bartha interview the three Hungarian contributors of the production: actress Emőke Boldizsár, light designer László Zsolt Bordos and dramaturge Réka Dunkler.

STUDY

Róbert Csaba Szabó: The Happy Prisoner of War. The Figure of the Hero Returning From Captivity in István Metz’s One-Act Play Jánoska
After the coming into power of the Romanian Workers’ Party in 1948, the state’s cultural policy aimed to unify professional and amateur theatre by creating new heroes who could convey the same ideological message in both spheres. One such hero was the war prisoner returning from captivity, representing the triumph of socialism and the friendship of the Soviet people. István Metz’s one-act play Jánoska portrays a former prisoner returning home and embracing the new socialist values. While the official discourse erased the experience of suffering during captivity, this play served as a societal release valve, allowing for the possibility of a hidden narrative about the hardships faced by war prisoners. The play was initially performed by the State Sekler Theatre of Târgu Mureș and later became popular among amateur theatre groups, spreading the official narrative and transmitting the hope of homecoming, while subtly challenging certain ideological stereotypes.

FOUND IMAGE

Katalin Ágnes Bartha: Laudation of Éva Imre
The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania bestows the Transylvanian Hungarian Contemporary Culture Awards annually. In 2023, it was Éva Imre, an actress of the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, who received the award in the category of performing arts. István Biró’s photo captures a moment from the performance entitled Young Barbarians in which Éva Imre plays the role of the composer Béla Bartók. In her laudation, Katalin Ágnes Bartha highlights this exceptional performance, which “is not ordinary theatrics; it shows a spirit of experimentation and a power that transgresses fossilised forms of theatrical expression, goes against comfortable conventions and takes the audience’s breath away.”

BOOK REVIEW

Nóra Balázs: Till the Last Breath
The THEALTER international festival of independent theatres has been organised in Hungary for thirty-three years. In 2021, a conference was held in honour of the 30th anniversary, and the papers presented were published in an online volume in 2022. The publication edited by Tamás Jászay includes the writings of both experienced and young experts and theatre makers. According to the reviewer, the most exciting reading in the book is the edited version of a conversation between Lívia Fuchs, Zoltán Imre and István Nánay on the past 100 years and the present of independent theatre in Hungary.

DRAMA

Bea Selmeczi – Csilla Bereczki: Umpteenth Butterfly
Why are we telling stories, and whose stories we tell, why, and how? The production created by dramaturge Bea Selmeczi and director Csilla Bereczki, keen on asking these questions, was inspired by the idea of Álmos Szalay’s play, Sokadik pillangó (Umpteenth Butterfly), and is mainly based on interviews conducted with female playwrights nominated in the last decades to The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. This series of monologues and short dialogues focuses on the lives of women, responsibility, compliance, social roles.