Organisers of the Madách International Theatre Meeting (MITEM) announced newest additions to the line-up of performances. A Greek company performs Kafka, and a Chinese company brings their Faust. There will be a Polish avant-garde and an Indian traditional performance. Attila Vidnyánszky Jr’s stage direction comes from Cluj. More theatre world stars are added to the line-up: Jan Fabre, Simon McBurney.
MITEM, which will be held for the ninth time this year, will be the central event of the 10th Theatre Olympics with more than fifty performances, with the National Theatre hosting most of the programmes. We have gathered a selection of interesting and exciting performances, including productions by companies and directors that can be seen for the first time in Hungary.
Report to an Academy
Greek director Savvas Stroumpos has created a stage version of Franz Kafka’s Report to an Academy with Zero Point Theatre. The protagonist of the play is a monkey called Red Peter, who is taken by a hunting expedition to Hamburg, where the animal is used in a variety theatre: learning human behaviour, it is used on stage to demonstrate the violent process of humanisation. Tickets can be purchased here.
Chorus Reparatory Theatre is based in Manipur, a state of India, and has grown to become an international centre for contemporary theatre. The company’s founder, Ratan Thiyam, born in 1948, is a writer, director, designer, musician, painter and actor who is also a member of the International Committee of the Theatre Olympics. In the performance based on Shakespeare’s work, the title character is a disease, a dangerous epidemic, the ugliest manifestation of the human race in today’s world, the literary, artistic, scientific and religious measures taken to eradicate it have failed so far. The text of Ratan Thiyam’s performance tries to remain as faithful as possible to the Shakespearean original, making it an outstanding experience even for those unfamiliar with the production’s special language: maripuri. With English and Hungarian subtitles. For tickets, please click here!
Drive your plough over the bones of the dead
Based on the novel of the same name by Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk, the performance takes place in the framework of a real international collaboration: world-famous touring theatre company Complicité presents the black-humoured, archaic-noir play called Drive Your Plough Over The Bones Of The Dead. A thought-provoking, ironic thriller larded up with otherworldly elements, a tale on the universe, poetry, the limits and possibilities of activism—all staged by award-winning English actor, writer and director Simon McBurney. Click here to buy tickets.
In the performance entitled Young Barbarians, the director, Attila Vidnyánszky Jr, explores the friendship between Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók, the two world-renown Hungarian musicologists, their motivations and experiences of their joint work, using Miklós Vecsei’s text to confront the audience with the still topical issues of Hungarian identity and national identity. To answer these questions, the actors of the Hungarian State Theatre of Cluj, with the participation of the Tokos Orchestra, try to ask Kodály and Bartók for help. Their aim is not to convey any kind of message, they are just looking for echoes that still speak to the viewer today as they did a hundred years ago. Éva Imre, who stars in the performance, was awarded the Lajos Őze Prize in Gyula in 2022. This special production will be performed four times on the Gobbi Hilda Stage of the National Theatre. Tickets are available here.
In the solo performance directed by Jan Fabre, Stella Höttler plays Cassandra, the priestess, the shaman, the holy woman, the fortune-teller. Her tragedy is that no one believes her, because she is considered a half-wit, hysterical, the village idiot: whispering, shouting, screaming, repeating for years the horrors she has seen, all to no avail. But she could have saved the world so many times. The essential elements of Jan Fabre’s theatre are chaos and discipline, repetition and madness, metamorphosis and anonymity; his approach to theatre is characterised by a rich form of expression, and his dialogues are complemented by other elements: dance, music, opera, performance art, and improvisation. Click here for tickets.
CCY – Witkac-Y Menagerie
On the Gobbi Hilda Stage of the National Theatre, the Witkacy Theatre Zakopane presents a production of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz—or Witkacy as he is widely known—to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of the Polish writer and his 125th birthday. The production, directed by Andrzej St. Dziuk, is inspired by the writer’s early works and has the hallmarks of all his later dramas. How was the young artist’s imagination influenced by the times in which he lived, and how did literary and artistic works and musical compositions shape his spirit? In addition to presenting these, the production makes another attempt to understand the theatre’s namesake—providing the actors with a great opportunity to play together. Tickets are available here.
Stories from the Mahabharata
Finally, we would like to draw your attention to an exciting performance, a genuine curiosity and its accompanying programmes: the Stories from the Mahabharata introduces the Indian Kathakali style of performance to the audience. This centuries-old art movement draws on the diverse culture of performers and ritual practices characterised by lavish combinations of spectacular face paintings and costumes, hypnotic and sophisticated singing, and musical playing. Before the performance, you can also witness the artists’ preparations: while they are painting their masks, and dressing up. For the first time in Hungary, the audience will experience a full, traditional Kathakali night: the performance will last seven and a half hours, ending at sunrise. Afterwards, we can witness the kelikottu, or sun salutation ritual, with breakfast. So, the artists don’t just present a performance, they conjure up a piece of India as well. As an accompanying programme, there will also be an informative talk on 25 May by Tiziana Barbiero, a founding member of the Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo, who will talk about the myth and poetry of the Kathakali dance theatre. Tickets for the performance are available here.
Finally, we recommend a performance by a Chinese company, the Beijing Central Academy of Drama. Their play, The Tragedy of Faust, directed by Liu Libin, is a five-act adaptation of Goethe’s classic, which differs significantly from the original in that it presents the five stages of Faust’s life in reverse order, from the end to the beginning. The play will be performed on the stage of the National Theatre on 10 May. Tickets are now on sale.
- For more information about the performances at the MITEM, click HERE.
- Please also check out the festival’s website: mitem.hu
- For the performances of the Madách International Theatre Meeting, which is part of the Theatre Olympics, the organisers have announced three free passes, which can be purchased HERE.