The 2023 Olympiad is a particularly responsible, post-traumatic Theatre Olympics, because it reflects the experience of a fracture not only in world harmony, but also in the theatrical fracture.
The pandemic that has forced the rethinking, the loss, in order to regain the art of theatre will certainly be reflected in this world reporting event. The Theatre Olympics is not just a celebration of theatre, but also a preview of what theatre art has come to in the interim.
There is no doubt that the Hungarian edition of the Theatre Olympics will be a special one, already by virtue of the impressive statistics. From April to July, four-hundred companies from fifty-eight countries will come to Hungary to present a festival of light, as bright as the light of software and eyes burning with love for art, in spite of all the gloom of non-theatre. The seven hundred and fifty performances, in which seven-thousand and five-hundred, performers will be involved, suggest a potential record for the largest theatre festival at the moment! Needless to say, all theatre genres apart from the boring ones will fit in here. However, it was not the numbers but the quality and high artistic criteria of the performances that determined the selection of the Jubilee Theatre Olympics.
Founder of the Theatre Olympics, Theodoros Terzopoulos discusses the cross-cutting theme of the upcoming event: “We always try to find a leading theme for the Olympics, paying special attention to the cultural specificities of the host country. For example, the role of small and large communities and nations in a globalising world can be an exciting theme these days. Nowadays, everyone is trying to get ahead individually, which threatens the particular values of peoples and nations. It works against diversity. It is our duty to cherish our collective treasures.
The heart of the Olympics will be the ‘festival within a festival’ – the 9th MITEM. It has a very special program and a signature tone. It is a case in which the names of the productions are not so important as the names of their authors, each of whom has made a chapter in world theatre history: Suzuki Tadashi, Theodoros Terzopoulos, Heiner Goebbels, Romeo Castellucci, Eugenio Barba, Alessandro Serra, Declan Donnellan to name but a few.
Sometimes, the anticipation of a holiday is better than the holiday itself. The Theatre Times will tell you about what is to come, but we can already say who will not be at the Theatre Olympics. Attila Vidnyánszky, director, and artistic director of the 10th Theatre Olympics: “Our Ukrainian friends, who have been to MITEM several times, have seen their theatre life come to a halt – but as soon as things are back to normal, we will make it possible for them to attend the Olympics in the spring, even at the last minute. And we won’t be able to see Russian performances either. As soon as the political situation is right, we will host Russian artists again”.
And as often happens in life – everything is indeed decided at the last minute. The Ukrainian Ivan Franko National Drama Theater will be present at the Theatre Olympics with The Resistible Rise of Arturo U” and Caligula. Brecht and Camus are not only significant, but also a symbolic choice. Certainly these productions have a special overarching purpose today.