I would like to thank you for my stay in Targu Mures in November. During a hot weekend of Presidential Elections, I could get, in this little, placid town, at least a rough idea of the problems of the country. Half of Targu Mures’ inhabitants are from Hungarian ethnic group and also the National Theatre tries to meet this double culture through two artistic directions and two Ensembles. That’s why I was delighted to run into diverse, smouldering and latent conflicts by the reading of my play “Unity and….”, in which a German journalist goes on a journey through Hungary governed by Orban and comes across the discrimination against the Roma minority as well. The stage director collected excellent actors of the two Ensembles for my play reading and it was a big pleasure to watch and listen to it, even for me who I’m not used to both languages, neither Hungarian nor Romanian. Also the following conversations with the team showed me how relevant are both the rightward shift in the neighbouring Hungary -central topic of the play- and the Antiziganism. (Furthermore, I felt flattered when an actress told me that a half documentary play is well suited for a film. Okay, adulated enough.)
During the two-day workshop I ran for the University of the Arts in the little theatre “Ariel”, I could quickly understand that it wouldn’t make much sense to tell the participants exclusively about my documentary works; meanwhile, I also had some reservations on this method, that I discussed in detail with the students. It seemed to me even more reasonable to focus the course on the development of the subject matters of the participants and to ask about social relevance and critical application. I was pleased to realize that the participants approached the real problems of their environment not only with strong motivation, but also with great intelligence. So we spent two busy days of workshop, kiddingly and seriously absorbed, going back and forth to English, Russian and German. To these days we added a visit to the events of the Festival “Connect Act 3”. I still keep in memory a staging by the artistic director of the National Theatre, Alina Nelega, whose monologues for eight women, played by just one actress, represent a bold move towards experimental and at the same time confrontational theatre. At least for Romania.
I came clearly to doubt the Romanian theatrical culture by attending the staging of the Hungarian classic “The Paul Street Boys” by Ferenc Molnar. After a big announcement of the play with video inserts in which male intellectuals have their say and after a male moderator stealing the show to his nice side-girl and inviting on stage the male notabilities of the evening for their words of thanks, after all this comes a play with an estimate of twenty-three male characters and two – mothers. No joke. Now, it’s true that the old play by Molnar with its story about boys games (gang war) left no room for girls. Nevertheless I would have really wished a critical engagement with Molnar’s heroism-murmuring. Almost forgotten seems the fact that Molnar, as many other authors, entered the outbreak of First World War with flags flying, the war of which this year marks the centenary. No, I think of Schnitzler, who comes from similar social conditions as Molnar and I can only share his rejection of war and violence. The staging, however, lacks not only the dissociation from violence and male behaviour, that it itself even promotes, no: it goes one step further by showing how the situation appears to the unknowing recipient-author from Germany: the bad gang obviously wears extremely socialist Red Shirts, while the leader of the Goods pulls a Hungarian flag from the trouser leg. The young Nemecsek doesn’t die of a pointless death like thousands of minors of our time who, forced to become child soldiers or guerrilla fighters into clans similar to gangs, die a wretched death – sent into the fire with ideals by the elderly who already know why they themselves don’t go on the front line. No, in the staging Nemecsek doesn’t die pointless or from abuse of power, but in due honour, the commanders of both camps bow down to the heroism of the boy. I feel a little unwell. As we are leaving from the theatre my attention is caught by the tears on the faces of the adults. Family men who dry the corners of their eyes. And I think of Schnitzler….
The role of Alina Nelega, her Ensemble and her students at the University of the Arts seems to me extraordinarily important, not only for the Romanian population, but also for the Hungarians in Targu Mures. Or the Germans, the Roma, why not for all?