The special edition of Madách International Theatre Meeting is also perceived as a continuation of the Theatre Olympics. This year it presents a quadriga of thematic blocks, including MITEM+ with Comédie-Française, State Theatre of Košice, Yugoslav Drama Theatre; Synergy Festival with theatre performances by linguistic and national minorities from Ufa to Cologne; National Theatre Showcase with the host theatre’s successful, innovative productions in recent years and BEREHOVE 30 – legendary performances by Hungarian Theatre of Berehove, celebrating its 30th anniversary. It is almost impossible to embrace the vastness of the world, but maybe it is this feeling of “under-exploration” that will make you come back to Hungary again and again.
It is not only the dates and the “anniversary” that unite the Theatre Olympics and the MITEM events but above all the moral code and ethical principles. There is no competition, no winners or losers, no hierarchy, and no labeling. There is no dictate of “box office” and fashion trends. It sounds idealistic, but it turns out that this ideal is achievable. Here there is no stifling of art, art race, and competition. Instead, there is search and discovery, theatrical experiments in form and new artistic language, and adjacent examples of traditional theatre that does not look “museum” or “old-school”. From folk dance to new drama, from circus to puppet theatre, from epic canvases to amateur theatre, there is room for all, different genres do not clash but interact, enriching the audience’s experience. Directors and playwrights – people of the theatre – here closely and astutely shape a program that offers audiences a cross-section of world and national theatre. This is not a crème de la crème or a vanity fair of famous names and brand names, but above all a palette of quality productions into which the artists have poured their thoughts, feelings, emotions, intention, originality, and author’s handwriting. The selection of performances here is carried out carefully and painstakingly and, for example, getting into the National Theatre Showcase is already a significant achievement for the performance and its creators. And for the audience, given MITEM’s many years of trust, it is a guarantee of quality. If you are just starting your journey into the world of theatre or think you have seen everything in theatre, you should be in Hungary and make sure that the time to be surprised (pleasantly) has not yet passed.
MITEM started with performances from twelve countries. In ten years this figure has reached fifty countries and three hundred performances. Judging by the systematic and confident movement of this initiative and its team, this is not the limit. The statistics of this jubilee meeting suggest the number ten – the 10th MITEM, ten performances, ten theatre companies, and twenty-one theatre productions. From 30th September to 23rd October 2023, the Hungarian stage will hear Yiddish, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, French, Slovak, Serbian, German, English, and other languages, the main language of which will be the language of theatre.
The language of memory, resurrecting mameloschen – mother tongue in Eugen Gyemant’s The Book of Ruth (by Mario Diament) will become consonant with the language of fantasy on the themes of The Overcoat (by Nikolai Gogol) directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili and will be complemented by the sound of the language of history and the agony of the world in Agon (by Péter Pál Józsa) directed by Attila Vidnyánszky. The language of overcoming stereotypes will be heard in Nada Kokotović’s production inspired by the film script by Rainer Werner Fassbinder Fear Eats the Soul, it will be echoed by the language of overcoming censorship in Ivo van Hove’s production of the Three-act version, censored by Louis XIV Tartuffe or the Hypocrite by Molière, and the language of human tragedy against the backdrop of dislocated time will be voiced by Attila Vidnyánszky Jr. in a production of Woyzeck (by Georg Büchner). These and other theatre languages and dialects will hopefully find a common language with the multilingual audience.
The famous majestic and graceful bridges of Budapest must have served as inspiration for the organizers of MITEM because building cultural bridges is the main mission of the festival and theatre forum. Here, ideological and political contradictions that are simply not allowed into the theatre hall are successfully overcome. The absence of hypocritical “fine-spiritedness” and “lusciousness” is a feature of the festival, which manages to show sharp angles, but not to wound with them.