Past Projects: Hungary
CITD’s Hungarian initiative is part of a larger, international initiative to engage with the theater artists of Hungary, whose work is under increasing scrutiny by the government and who daily work with the realities of censorship, severe funding cuts, and a widening divide between the ideologies of the government and the people.
Angels in America by Tony Kushner.
Directed by Andrei Serban. Produced by The National Theatre in Budapest.
In 2010, the political tide of Hungary changed severely as elections brought to power the Fidesz party, whose sweeping victory in Parliament gave them “the ability to change Hungary’s constitution at will, and already there are increasingly alarming sings of political control over theater, culture and media in the country” (Letter from the Hungarian Theatre Critics’ Association, January 2011).
Despite internal crisis, many of Hungary’s artists and journalists have been working to bring international attention to the the political situation, especially organizations like the Hungarian Critics’ Association, an independent organization of the theater critics and scholars based in Budapest.
The Critics’ Association put forth public letter on the Hungarian Watch website, which condenses and conveys the urgency of the situation. Read that letter here.
CITD took an American delegation of theater artists and journalists to the Hungarian National Theatre Festival in Pecs in June 2011. There they witnessed the early effects of the growing anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, and increasing hostility towards independent artists–the promised “Off Program” of independent theatres at the festival had been shrunk severely from the previous year, and CITD soon learned that the next year, all the independent companies had been uninvited from participation altogether.
Viktor Bodo’s Rattledanddisappeared, based on The Trial by Franz Kafka. Produced by the Katona Josef Theatre.
In light of the lack of governmental support for the independent theater companies, the Critics Association and CITD decided to create a separate showcase for those companies, along with some of the edgier work from the state run theaters, work from artists who are currently being pushed out of leadership positions, like Robert Alfoldi.
The showcase took place March 2-9, 2013, with 120 international guests in attendance, including a 25-strong American Delegation organized by CITD. Over the course of the week, the showcase presented 25 shows by Budapest-based theater artists and companies, ranging from the extremely close-up performance of UBU ROI by Maladype to the large scale epic performances of the National, including ANGELS IN AMERICA. Other companies included in the roster were the long-standing independent Pinter Bela Company, HOPPart, and a lecture/discussion with Kretakor’s director Arpad Schilling.
In addition to the performances, a series of often-heated discussions were held on topics of contemporary and independent in Hungary and the rest of Europe, in addition to seeing and talking with artists who are creating new communities, such as the new Juranyi Arts Incubator, an arts center supporting independent artists of all disciplines.
The showcase was a huge success, but the work of the artists has gotten harder than ever. CITD is working with the American participants to fund second-step projects, in order to keep an open channel for the artists we met as they face greater and greater challenges to their freedom as artists and as citizens.
See what we did at the Hungarian Showcase and follow further developments on their Facebook page.