On 27-28 July 2017, the First International Roma Storytelling Festival was organized in Studio K Theater, Budapest, by Independent Theater Hungary and thus Hungary was put on the map of Storytelling Festivals.
During the two-day-long festival, the spectators saw four plays by four artists. After the shows, the artists were in conversation.
I declare atmy own risk by Alina Serban was translated into Hungarian by Beáta Adorján, who also moderated the conversation after the performance.
The play of Richard R. O’Neill, The Hardest Word, was performed by Edina Dömök, who has been working with Independent Theater since 2014. The play was translated by Viktória Kondi. Directed by Rodrigo Balogh.
Mária Bogdán moderated the discussion with the audience.
The dramatized version of Mariella Mehr’s novel Stone Age was performed by Dijana Pavlovic, accompanied by Tamás Seres on violin and vocal. The conversation was moderated by Kinga Júlia Király, the translator of the play.
Finally, the festival ended with the show of Mihaela Dragan, Del Duma: SheSpeaks, where Gusztáv Balogh sung unaccompanied the actress on guitar. The discussion after the performance was moderated by the translator of the play, Beáta Adorján.
Transmit to posterity
Theatre is the art of the moment. In order to transmit these plays to posterity, we have to turn to the genre of film for help. The focal scenes were recorded in a studio with the technical supervision of Róbert Maly cinematographer, and the students of Central European University, led by Jeremy Braverman, Media and Visual Education Specialist,took in-depth interviews with the artists.
The edited versions of the focal scenes and the in-depth interviews provide the opportunity to show the theatre artists and the protagonist of the plays parallelly. These cinematographic works outline precisely almost all challenges that Roma intellectuals face in the 21th century.
Great success and professional recognition
Several media outlets reported on the Festival both in Hungary and in Romania. Most of the chairs had to be removed from the auditorium of Studio K Theater and they were replaced with pillows placed on the floor, as an average of 85 spectators attended the shows instead of the originally expected 50 persons.
After the Festival, unprecedented amount of professional reviews were published, and in exceptionally high quality.
Educational material on Roma theatre
In the case of Roma people’s and communities’ theatrical representation, what come up are almost always problems, troubles and tragedies.
This festival put self-representation and values in the spotlight.
The question arises: how to spread these values? Our theatre aims to show the life and situation of Gypsy protagonists in the plays to mostly Roma secondary school and university students. Together with the artists, we have laid the foundations of an educational methodology on Roma dramas which was finalized by the methodology group of Independent Theater. From autumn 2017 on, we run two-session workshops of 90-300 minutes in high schools, universities, special colleges and informal groups for mostly Roma youngsters on this topic.
One doesn’t have to wait long for the program to continue. Independent Theater plans to organize the “Roma Heroes” – 2nd International Roma Storytelling Festival, focusing on young and professional storytellers, at the end of May 2018.
The open call for application will be launched in 2017 and it will be disseminated in Europe.
Why is it needed?
There is a tree, with branches and leaves on it. Each leaf signifies something missing, something that Roma communities lack. There is no Gypsy theatre, no other institution, there is no collection of Roma dramas, no Roma publishing houses, we are not present in the curriculum, or if we are then just as victims or criminals. This is not okay. We know that there are more inspiring narratives than these.
We believe that time will erase these deficiencies either by the substantive investment of the nations or by civil courage.
What do we do for this goal?
We have organized a Gypsy theatre festival to make the values of Gypsy theatre known to various social groups (youngsters, activists, critics, theatre professionals and decision makers).
During the festival, high quality audio-visual materials have been recorded related to the plays and the artists, which we can transmit to posterity.
Along the principles of “nothing about us without us”, we have laid the foundations of the educational materials dealing with their plays together with the artists.
The methodology group of our theatre have drafted the workshop modules based on the plays, the related video materials and the information provided by the artists
That is how we prepare the educational methodology on Roma theatre.
What are the results?
If we organize a Roma Theatre Festival each year than in 10-15 years’ time, it will be possible to lay the foundations of a textbook on Roma drama and theatre history, a collection of European Roma dramas may be published and it can provide the high quality intellectual basis of a European Roma theatre to be established in the future.
How do we disseminate it?
In 2017, the trainers of our theatre run two-session workshops of 90-300 minutes for groups of mostly Roma students, focusing on the plays and artists presented at the “Roma Heroes” – First International Roma Storytelling Festival.
The institutions hosting the workshops were chosen after applying to a restricted call. Until 26 November 2017, workshops will be run in the following institutions:
- RefoRom, Protestant Roma College, Budapest;
- Lutheran Roma College, Nyíregyháza;
- Romaversitas Foundation, Budapest;
- Pressley Ridge Foundation, Salgótarján;
- Wlislocki Henrik College, Pécs;
- Dr. Ámbédkar High School, Miskolc;
- Eötvös Lóránd University Media and Communication Department, Budapest;
- Greek-Catholic Gypsy College, Miskolc;
- Informal youth group, Hajdúhadház.
What is a workshop session like?
At the first session, the participants of the workshop get to know the four heroes, analyse and discuss the plays. The workshop begins with a warm-uplinked with the topic, then the 4 plays are presented in a short video. For the groupwork, the students are provided with parts of the playscript, background materials and related questions. Afterwards, the small groups present the heroes and the plays they have analysed to the others, state the similarities and differences, and discuss the questions that arise related to the plays. As part of the discussion, we put emphasis on the situation of the heroes (social facts), their relations with the others, the values that they believe in and the decisions that they make in accordance with these values, their activities and responsibilities as well as the resulting changes.
At the second workshop session – tailored to the previously assessed skills and interests of the group – the participants talk about their own heroes with creative means (e.g.: short theatre performance, works of fine art, writing, drawing comics). This work is analysed together and in case of a more complex idea or a draft which is worth to elaborate, the students discuss what is necessary to continue the work. At the end of the session, the participants state what they regard as an example from the stories of their own heroes and what is it that they would like to incorporate in their future life.
The results of the workshops are measured by deliberative pre- and post-workshop questionnaires, evaluations sheets filled by the students and the teachers and pre- and post-workshop interviews with the group leaders.
12 students out of the 180 workshop participants will participate in the 5-day-long “Roma heroes” workshop-marathon in December 2017.
The stories presented at the workshops or the ones created there will be published on Roma heroes blog.