In the course of his career, which now is stretching into a period of more than four decades, Helmut Stürmer, the stage designer for the production of Faust, has done the stage design and costume design for some 200 theatre production, as well as innumerable opera productions and feature films. He has worked together closely with world-famous directors and writers, including Liviu Ciulei, Lucian Pintilie, Silviu Purcărete, Gábor Tompa, and Vlad Mugur.
It was a long while before when I last felt as deliberated, elevated and (let me say) “happy” as during the last year festival in Kisvárda. I enjoyed the productions staged by Hungarian theatres outside Hungary, and I was impressed that any drama workshop seemed to be consistent to their special approaches. Self-identification is the term that I would describe them with after the professional discussions which proved to be great opportunities to talk sincerely with the companies and the creators about the professional ups and downs.
It is a well-known fact that in a theatre everything happens hic et nunc and in spite of the development of the contemporary media the recordings cannot really substitute the excitement, the sadness or the admiration that can be the results of direct encounters between the actors and the audiences.
It does not happen very often that a minority Hungarian artist should stage a Serbian national classic and that this production should be presented at such an international theatre festival as MITEM, which is already in its third year now. I am especially happy about this since one of the central ideas of our festival from the very beginning is that the question of national identity must also be embraced by theatrical practice. Szcenárium devoted a two-day professional programme to this topic in 2014.
A festival organiser, even if he would love to behave like an anthology editor, cannot really behave like that. This latter one may freely rely on his intuitions while picking the poems when it is hard to define his object. On the contrary, a festival organiser has to fit the complicated and difficult complexity of things into his own “anthology”, during which act his attention is mostly focused on the risk factors of the given historical moment.
It requires great courage to raise the issue of national theatres at a festival, which is such an important, moreover, a very central issue in Europe. This is a very complex subject: the task that a national theatre aims and undertakes varies from country to country on one hand, because of the differences in their historical background, but on the other hand, because of the actual context. There is no regulation or recipe to provide guidance for such a situation.
As a former organiser of festivals, I have the question come to me, time and time again, as to why one undertakes a not quite seamless stunt like MITEM. Several times the ongoing festival (of 2015) has reminded me of the probably most memorable one in my life, the Third Theatre Olympics (Russia, Moscow, 2001), and the programme series entitled The Eye – Slanted Scythians View, conducted by Anatoly Vasiliev, within that.