The Independent Theatre Hungary decided to introduce a six-part series of the play called Kosovo Mon Amour by Jovan Nikolić and Ruždija Russo Sejdović. The first part was published on 27th March 2020, and the video received more than 700 views and the number is increasing day by day. The quarantine-production was made in the genre of the so-called ‘war trash’.
How does hatred influence society? How can we stand up for our identity and values? The play deals with these topics. The Independent Theatre Hungary has paid tribute to the International Theatre Day for many years and the stage reading of Kosovo Mon Amour would have been introduced on this occasion, too. However, adjusting to the current situation, it is introduced in a new form: in a video series recorded by a smart phone. We were glad to realise that more people were reached through the online platform than usually in a theatre.
„In the theatre the number of the audience would have been 50-60 people, but the online solution reached 200 viewers on the day of the premiere.” – said Rodrigo Balogh, the director of the play and the director of the Independent Theatre Hungary. „Theatres are challenged now which can lead to their collapse or their revival as well. We are trying to proceed towards a revival, and thanks to the digital change-over we can reach previously unknown communities.
Our work goes on, the recording and the postproduction continue at home, too. Even if cultural life is in a difficult situation, we are still working, and the 4th Roma Heroes International Roma Theatre Festival preparatory process has begun, too.
The date of the premiere of the second part is 3 April 2020 at 9pm.
Place: the platforms of the Independent Theatre Hungary
The production is supported by the Goethe Institute and the Summa Artium Private Art Fund.
27 March is the World Theatre Day. From 1978 a message is delivered before the performance begins on each stage of each country of the world. The aim of the theatre day is to draw attention to the importance of theatre – and in a broader sense – of culture, to pay tribute to actors, theatre workers, and to ask for the love and support of the audience.
Although there are Roma theatre companies all over Europe, in the last 42 years the International Theatre Institute never asked a theatre maker of Roma origin to convey a message to the stages of the world. Year by year, the Independent Theater Hungary invites an artist with Roma ancestors to tell his/her message.
Please, welcome the World Theatre Day message of Simonida Selimovič, the artistic director of the Romano Svato Theatre Company in Vienna.
“When I think of the theatre, I imagine a world where theatre represents the citizens, and my culture has a place on stage, too. Unfortunately, this is not the case, even if the Roma people have been playing a role in the history of Europe for 700 years.
In the theatre my soul was filled with hope, my mood was upbeat, and I felt myself at home because I was happy to play. Later, I noticed that there’s few Roma who can practice this profession. I belong to those who had the courage to choose this profession. Then I soon realised why I am assigned only stereotyped roles, why I am always pigeonholed.
The quality of theatre cannot be measured by the number of the audience. Considering the whole society, theatre is an institute for a minority. However, don’t we measure the world of democracy by the fate of the minorities living in it?
Theatre is interesting and good if it explains the world.
After all, theatre is the place where society reflects on life in general. My attention is captured when I feel that the play deals with serious questions: love, death, social and political conditions, when I feel personally addressed as a member of society.
However, I don’t feel addressed at all when the “Gipsy Baron” is on stage. The language still offends me and many other Roma people. The Volksoper in Vienna can still make flyers and advertise a play in which there are no Roma actors at all, and that represents only a corny cliché-like “gipsy image” known by the majority.
The play ignores not only the undignified conditions in which most of the Roma lived but also the fact that when the canonised light opera was made, most Roma groups had settled, did not wander on their well-known ‘green wagon’ from one place to the other, but they lived together with the majority of society. If the ‘Gipsies’ are regarded persona no grata of the multi-ethnic state, how is it come that ‘the outcast’ could become the subject of the entertainer industry in the heyday of the light opera.
On this basis, this tendency became the authentic vision of society in the period, and for the art of Romantism it became the intellectual background again and again to depict the ‘Gipsy lifestyle’, which satisfied the audience of the Decadent movement both musically and dramaturgically. The opera is the product of the majority that excluded and persecuted the Roma for centuries, and this tendency lives on in this light opera performed in Vienna, too. It’s the well-designed construction of the Gipsy stereotype that was created by the majority during the centuries.
I ask the question: Why do the cultural policy of Austria, the sponsors and the banks support such an opera with an unbelievably huge amount of money? The performance they support doesn’t help the community, the nation, society and tolerance but popularises racism in the city of Vienna, and what is more, tries to make it presentable.
I wish a Roma theatre that hasn’t been realised in Vienna yet. A theatre where we can tell our own stories about our ancestors. Here, in Austria the stories of the Sinti and the Roma haven’t been told like that of the Jews, otherwise ‘The Gipsy Baron” couldn’t be on programme now.
Numerous plays and operas could be written based on our stories, we just need a place to play, recognition, and support from those who owe us. We need places and theatres that are available for us, where the Roma people can play, work and show the world their still unknown stories. Many people don’t know the real ‘Roma’ people, they just believe to know them based on the distorted and false idea they have in their minds.
Let’s make a theatre that includes people who respect each-other, where high-quality stories are told, a theatre that our descendants are delighted about, too. Let’s become an example for the next generation so that they can learn from us. Don’t let them live in an art world that is full of clichés and racism.”
We can get an insight into the war in Kosovo finished 20 years ago through the play of Jovan Nikolić and Ruždija Russo Sejdović which is one of the most outstanding plays in the European Roma drama literature. The play would have been introduced in a stage reading by nine brilliant Roma actors in the RS9 Theatre to pay tribute to the International Theatre Day. The play can be viewed online in a new style and form because of the current situation. The video series are recorded with smart phones in the actors’ homes and the first part will be released on 27th March 2020 at 9pm on the online platforms of the Theatre.
How can we protect our family, property and identity? When comes the right moment to escape, and where can we escape during wartime? How can hatred lead to a society where we lived together in peace before? The play raises questions on these topics that are still current today. In the pub called Mon Amour, Jashar is the multigenerational owner, and his brother Pauker worked as a teacher in a school. The play focuses on the Roma middle class instead of the misery of gypsy settlements which were the targets of the Serbians and Albanians during the war in Kosovo.
„Have not played together with so many exciting, professional Roma actors in a play of a Roma playwright since the performance of Vareso Aver „Vérnász” in 2000. The video cover is a tribute to the previous generation of legendary actors.“ – states Rodrigo Balogh, the director of the play, the artistic director of the Independent Theatre Hungary. He describes the genre of the performance as a war trash. The premiere of the six parts can be seen every Friday at 9 pm on our online platforms. Rozália Farkas, Emília Lovas, Tamás Szegedi, József Budai, Norbert Varga, András Kazári, Christopher Pászik, Dániel Lakatos and Gellért Csiki will perform. They all participated in Tudás6alom, Új Színház and other theatre formations. The music will be presented by Máté Kovács and István Babindák from Speranta Band.
Time of premiere: 27th March 2020 at 9 pm.
Place: social media platforms of the Independent Theatre Hungary
The production is supported by the Goethe Institute Budapest.