National Theatre Artistic Concept
On March 15, 2002, the edifice that had been longed for for decades threw open its gates. For our free, democratic, European nation, what did it mean, this National Theatre? Nothing but that: theatre. Its mission: to instill openness, tolerance, and curiosity in spectators – with special attention to younger generations that somehow received no time ever since the system change. For their sake, we must create a new, empathetic cultural medium. According to Róbert Alföldi, “In today's world, relationships are about approach – that is, I am curious about the thoughts of another, who is similarly curious about the way I think, and together we will go further.”
At the National, besides honoring the treasures of traditional Hungarian theatre, we must remain continually present, in the mindset world theatre. That way, we can pose answers more easily and effectively to the question, “How can a theatre discuss today's reality?” The National Theatre has an opportunity to join in contemporary European culture and speak in a truly modern theatre language about our times. We should inspire our peers, both mentally and spiritually, by providing an example of a cultural institution that that embraces a variety of open-minded and integrating outlooks, showing how we could live and should live, paying attention to one another in this disjointed, though free “brave new world.”
The National Theatre endeavors to assemble the Hungarian artists and stage directors who pursue their own indiosyncratic styles, who preserve their intellectual and artistic openness, and who are well-versed in the progress of world theatre – all of whom possess a distinct vision of the world and work in multiple disciplines. (TAMÁS ASCHER, ZOLTÁN BALÁZS, JÁNOS MOHÁCSI, KORNÉL MUNDRUCZÓ, JÁNOS SZÁSZ, PÉTER VALLÓ, and SÁNDOR ZSÓTÉR)
It is also the task of the National Theatre to find new, fresh talent, to support it and incorporate it into the work of the theatre. That is why we wish to extend to the University of Film and Dramatic Arts the opportunity for students completing their studies in stage direction to mount their final-exam productions at the National Theatre.
We would also like to entice significant artists from abroad to stage productions in our theatre. We would bring Hungarian classics to the attention of foreign guest directors in the hopes that the disparate cultures would have a fruitful effect on each other.
Beyond this, the theatre's task (as it has always been) is to produce gems of world literature. At the same time, we are committed to discovering and showcasing the throubbing life, the dramatic power that lies in Hungarian works. The creation of new work is a time- and energy-consuming process, in which case the theatre is in the position to make some requests – that we may provide the company, that we may offer suggestions, that we may recommend directions to take, and that we may count on the presence of the artist or author – secure in the fact that a contemporary piece will be born. In connection with the Year of the Bible, the National Theatre has commissioned ten Hungarian writers, each to write a play about one of the Ten Commandments. (GÉZA BEREMÉNYI, LÁSZLÓ DARVASI, PÉTER ESTERHÁZY, LÁSZLÓ GARACZI, JÁNOS HÁY, ATTILA LŐRINCZY, ZSUZSA RAKOVSZKY, ANDRÁS VINNAI, ANDRÁS VISKY, and PÁL ZÁVADA)
The theatre also intends to premiere and keep on the program contemporary works that have become modern classics, but which are missing from Hungarian theatre repertory. Additionally – in the more distant future – we will seek out contacts with living authors abroad in a bid to obtain new work. (This year, for example, we will premiere Botho Srauss's play The Park, in a translation by András Forgách.)
Having reconsidered the status of Hungarian musical pieces that already rank as classics, we plan to undertake these productions, albeit in realizations that stir up some debate. We would like to create opportunities to push the boundaries of musical theatre and bring new works into existence. Nowadays, modern opera abroad is just as alive as prose theatre – in fact, in many cases, it is developing along paths that are more progressive and more daring. For that very reason – whilst making use of our polyphonic director's corps (mentioned above) – the National Theatre intends to hold opera premieres eventually, since we wish to provide a venue for original musical theatre pieces (plays and performances) to be born.
We have managed to convince five significant Hungarian artists to make over the theatre lobby – temporarily, but radically – with specialy prepared installations and paintings. When people enter, they will be able to see how divergent, even provocative artistic approaches may exist side by side, sparking a new consideration, a new dialogue. These works will remain on display in the lobby for several months, then later enrich the modern collection of the Ludwig Museum. Each of the commissioned artists is drawn to the theatre. Some have designed scenery; others are eager to do so. This, too, will broaden the theatre's openness and fortify the art of scenic design in Hungary. (EL KAZOVSZKIJ, ERZSÉBET VOJNICH, JÓZSEF GAÁL, IMRE BUKTA, and MIKLÓS SZÜTS)
Among our long-range plans, we wish to host performances from outside the Hungarian border all season long, with clear regularity, practically as part of the production schedule. These pieces, directed with powerful worldviews, would not only help expand our approach to theatre with their principles; they would also act as a medium, builidng up our relationships with neighboring countries' theatres (for eample, with the Romanian performing arts, which are progressing in a unique direction).
In every sense, the National Thatre has all the given conditions to be site and home of a representative international theatre festival, which at present is missing from Hungarian cultural life. One goal of the festival would be to bring the most exciting current productions to the Hungarian public. Another goal, whenever possible, would be to work for a theme that would provide harmony for the performances: a given theme arranged around a certain regional area, or a theatre's artistic program, or a foreign director working at the theatre. This would create a context for all the pieces, so artists taking part in the festival would remain in Budapest for a couple of extra nights. We could arrange for their participation in encounters with other theatre professional or audience members. Importantly though, our festival would connect partner institutions at home and abroad. As a realistic estimate, the first such festival could be arranged in 2010. We believe it is natural and necessary for the National Theatre to cooperate with the outstanding and justly famous festivals in Budapest (the Budapest Spring Festival and Budapest Autumn Festival). We would strive to form a cooperation with thinking together at its core, considering the partners' requirements while bringing into harmony their opportunities and their assets.
The theatre has initiated a play-reading series, selections including he freshest work from contemporary international drama literature. Play-readings, with their own particular tools, can display the worthy features of a work, drawing attention to the author's craft and perhaps drawing followers to modern theatre literature. The speciality of today's National Theatre could lie partly its integrating role and partly in its quality. The cultural administration recognizes this quality and makes it possible for the National Theatre to enjoy such distinguished opportunities.
- 2011/2012 schedule
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