A colourful programme and major artists at MITEM
"...And bring upon this wide world, brotherhood." This quote from Madách serves as the motto of the 2022 Madách International Theatre Meeting, which brings to Budapest performances from France, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Italy, Bosnia and Vietnam. This year's National Theatre showcase takes place from 20 April to 8 May. MITEM's organisers have done their best to offer Hungarian audiences a wide range of choice despite the pandemic.
The press conference presenting the programme of the 8th MITEM recalled that to date, 170 performances from 38 countries have been presented during the Meetings, to a combined audience of 53 500. This year there will be 16 performances from 13 countries.
Péter Fekete, Minister of State for Culture of the Ministry of Human Resources, underlined at the event that the fact that the National Theatre is hosting the Meeting for the eighth time demonstrates that foreign companies have a good time here, discussing ideas, because this is a place where they can be debated. And the fact that Hungary, despite the pandemic, held the previously postponed Meeting in the autumn shows that culture can help to heal psychological wounds," the State Secretary added.
Speaking of MITEM's philosophy, National Theatre Director General Attila Vidnyánszky said that from the outset, the goal had been to bring the country's leading theatre into international circulation. In recent years, the theatre has grown into a genuine world theatre. Thanks to its international network, for example, this season the National Theatre hosts productions by Norway's Eirik Stubø, Russia's Nikolai Roschin, Greece's Theodoros Terzopoulos and Spain's Ignacio García.
Director-choreographer Yvette Bozsik spoke about her production Clown Wanted, based on the play by Matei Vişniec. Dramaturge András Kozma highlighted productions by major directors from Poland and the Baltic States. He added that Moscow's Vakhtangov Theatre, celebrating its 100th anniversary, was bringing its jubilee super-production to MITEM.
MITEM's chief organiser Edit Kulcsár said it was important to see the production behind the numbers. This year for example, a Bosnian theatre production will be presented at the Meeting for the first time, after garnering over 50 awards at various festivals throughout the region. Actor Martin Mészáros pointed out the opportunity to meet the masters of international theatre. National Centre for Circus Arts Managing Director Dr. Beáta Borsos presented one of MITEM's highlights, AO Show from Vietnam, to be performed six times at a satellite venue.
Participants of the press conference received video welcome messages from Rimas Tuminas, Director of the Vakhtangov, Jean Bellorini, Director of Théâtre National Populaire, French playwright Valère Novarina, and Gábor Tompa, Director of the Hungarian Theatre of Kolozsvár (Cluj).
This year's Meeting offers theatre enthusiasts a diverse range of productions in terms of both geography and genre. The international series will open with Gábor Tompa's production of Hamlet from Cluj, rife with unconventional solutions, daring innovations and associations; and it will conclude with War and Peace, a clean, actor-centred production by one of Russia's most influential theatrical workshops, Moscow's Vakhtangov Theatre, on the Main Stage of the National Theatre.
Zakopane's Witkacy Theatre brings Polish classic Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf by Stanisław Witkiewitz to MITEM for the first time. The Ivan Franko National Drama Theatre company will be back from Kiev, this time with a special production of Sing, Lola, Sing, written by contemporary author Alexander Chepalov based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat (Small Town Tyrant) and the film Blue Angel. Attis Theatre of Athens will return as well, this time with poetic composition Amor. The New Theatre of Riga brings a stage adaptation of Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov to Budapest. Also from the Baltics, Lithuania's Klaipèda Drama Theatre will present a production based on Caravaggio's life, and another Lithuanian company, Vilnius' OKT/City Theatre will present Russian contemporary author Ivan Viripayev's play Delhi Dance. Théâtre National Populaire and La Criée - Théâtre national de Marseille co-produce poetic play Game of Shadows by Valère Novarina, one of France's most important contemporary playwrights.
Another regular participant of the Meeting, St. Petersburg's Russian National Drama Theatre (Alexandrinsky Theatre) company will bring exciting social fiction play Today 2016 – ... to Budapest. A unique, anthropologically inspired adaptation of Macbeth will be presented by the Sardegna Theatre Teatropersona Company from Cagliari, and Kamerni Teatar 55 from Sarajevo will present Remember Dolly Bell?, a contemporary reflection on the world of Emir Kusturica.
The Theatre Meeting keeps pushing genre boundaries, but this is no longer a novelty. The Czech Republic's Drak Theatre brings us Georges Méliès' Last Trick, a non-verbal magic show by Jiří Havelka and Marek Zakostelecký, which will transport us all the way back to the golden days of film-making. AO Show from Vietnam combines acrobatics with contemporary dance and theatre techniques.
National productions include Clown Wanted by the Yvette Bozsik Company, based on Matei Vişniec's play, and Kaleidoscope - Hommage á Béla Bartók, an unconventional dance performance.
The list is also impressive in terms of directors, including one of the most important European directors, Latvia's Alvis Hermanis (Black Milk, 2017). The audience was introduced to the doyen of Greek theatre, Theodoros Terzopoulos, at the MITEM postponed to autumn 2021 (Aias, the Madness; Alarme). Vakhtangov Director Rimas Tuminas, many of whose productions have been very successful in previous years (Evgeny Onegin, 2017, Oedipus Rex, 2018, Uncle Vanya, 2019) needs no introduction. Valery Fokin is a household name to MITEM fans (Marriage, 2015, Zero Liturgy, 2014, Schweik. The Comeback, 2018). He has also worked at the National Theatre, where his adaptation of Dostoyevsky's The Crocodile premiered in 2016. Valère Novarina is a special creator of contemporary French theatre (In the Forest of Names, 2015, So Spake Louis de Funès, 2016), this time, the programme includes his play, rather than a production of his. MITEM will welcome Gábor Tompa, President of the European Theatre Union since 2018 (Waiting for Godot, 2021). Ukrain's Dmitro Bogomazov has also been to the Meeting before (Coriolanus, Morituri te Salutant, 2019). This is not the first time Kokan Mladenović has been to a Hungarian festival site, the Serbian director won the Prize for Best Performance at the 2014 POSZT with Opera Ultima of Novi Sad. Of course, the productions of other theatre-makers, such as Polish theatre founder Andrzej Stanisław Dziuk, the Czech Republic’s boldly innovative Jiří Havelka, Poland’s versatile Agata Duda-Gratz, the Lithuanian innovator Oskaras Koršunovas, the French "all-rounder" Jean Bellorini and the Italian Alessandro Serra obsessing over the essence of theatre, are also worth a look.
This year, the programme of the Madách International Theatre Meeting will again be enriched by various professional accompanying events, as theatre lovers have become accustomed to.
(15 February 2022)