Roma Heroes – IV. International Roma Theatre Festival
From October 21 to December 9, 2020, the Independent Theater Hungary hosted the world’s only international Roma theater festival for the fourth time – this time online. Year after year, Roma companies present themselves at the festival with performances never seen before in Hungary. Our goal is to present as many Roma hero stories and the diverse values of Roma theater as possible. This year, eight more productions were unveiled at the festival, revolving around the theme of survival and prosperity.
Wondering how a Romanian florist became a billionaire? What are Roma cyber-witches able to do? What are the challenges faced by a woman who raises her child alone and lives in a sack village and is involved in illegal money lending? How overwhelming is to wait for your destiny in an Austrian refugee camp? How does a Roma community survive in Ukraine during World War II? Why can a Roma artist feel like a beast? How does one become a successful theatrical creator with Roma origin? Or how does a Roma family whose members live in different countries of Europe go through the period of quarantine?
“In recent centuries, Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities, if they have learned something thoroughly on this continent, is to react and adapt quickly to unexpected situations. The motto of this year’s Festival is survival and prosperity. Like everyone else during the pandemic, we have a lot to say about it, which can easily be identical to the experiences of viewers in many respects. We hope that the dramas will give the audience strength and faith for everyday life.” – Rodrigó Balogh artistic director of the Independent Theater Hungary.
Bambina, the queen of flowers
An exciting slice of history is unfolded through the stories of the Romanian florists. Beginning with the appearance of the first florists, we can see how the Roma people adapted to the changes of time until we get to the birth of the flower empire of Lina Georgescu, also known as Bambina. She was the most successful woman ever who reformed the flower trade, skilfully built an empire during communism and after regime changed, she coped with the challenges of the free market, too. Her main goal was to support the young women like her, that is why she was willing to work only with them. ARTHUB company created the reconstruction of Bambina’s life based on the interviews made with her son.
Writer: Alex Fifea, Zita Moldovan, Andrei Serban
Text and documentation: Alex Fifea, Andrei Serban, Nona Serbanescu, Mihai Lukács, Zita Moldovan
Village day – If it is for free, it ain’t worth shit!
Lápos can be any village in Hungary today: with inhabitants who struggle for their daily living, better or worse but they are lovable residents. Misery-tourists visit the village day every year and the participants of the gastro-theatre performance meet real human tragedies in the pokey but inventive village. How much chance does a Gypsy woman have if she raises her child on her own without any opportunity to work? Where is hope when the biggest goodwill turns the most important people of our lives against us? What is needed when we take the road of unscrupulousness because we cannot get out of the woods? Where is the boundary between humanity and inhumanity? Similar questions arise when the tourists are walking on the lush side of Gellért Hill, Budapest during the performance by Independent Theatre Hungary and they can taste the special delicacies of the village during the premiere, too.
Writer and director: Rodrigó Balogh
Dramaturge: Márton Illés
Protagonist: Emília Boda-Novy, Dávid Csányi, Béla Stubnya, Cristopher Pászik, Orsolya Balogh, Judit Kőszegi
The Gipsy theatre company created the performance in memory of the Roma victim in WWII. Leader does not only talk about the Roma and is not exclusively for the Roma. The play depicts the inner life of people and reflects on the battle of good and bad powers. There are positive stories about feelings, right actions, self-sacrifice, since love and sympathy can serve as a refuge in the most difficult times, too.
Writer and director: Igor Krikunov
Perkucigo – The life story of Zsolt Fekete-Lovas
The performance of Zsolt Fekete-Lovas is unique, containing elements of stand-up and represents the crisis of identity. He gets into surprising situations as an ethnic Hungarian from Romania with hidden Gypsy origin. The performance is a dialogue between the creators and the audience about the destiny of the Gypsies, mainly about the discrimination in the Romanian health care system.
Writer: Csaba Székely and Zsolt Fekete-Lovas
Director: Zsolt Fekete-Lovas, Attila Bordás and Péter Dávid
The members of a Roma family live in different points of Europe when the lockdown comes. They can only communicate on video chat, and must face losses, challenges in their isolated lives and the hidden conflicts and secrets among each other are also revealed. It seems that only magic can help. All the four episodes of the online theatre series are streamed together this time. The story is based on real stories that the Roma people faced during the time of the lockdown in diverse countries of Europe and the personal stories and improvisations of the artists who created this piece together from their home countries connected only by the internet and their common passion for theatre.
Starring: Sonia Carmona Tapia, Lucia Lakatos, Richard R. O’Neill, Sebastiano Spinella, Tamás Szegedi
Writer: Richard R. O’Neill
Co-writers: Sonia Carmona Tapia, Lucia Lakatos, Richard R. O’Neill, Sebastiano Spinella, Tamás Szegedi, Jaime E. Vicent Bohórquez
Director: Rodrigó Balogh, Márton Illés
Cinematographer and editor: Péter Illés
Romacen – The age of the witch
The performance of the Giuvlipen troupe ‘Romacen- The Age of the Witch’ tells the story of six cyber-witches who created an isolated, futuristic society called Romacen. The society is feminist and utopian which functions according to its own norms and law system. The reason for creating this society was that the members are fed up with the oppression of white people. With the help of technology and techno magic power it becomes possible to travel in time, create humanoid robots and make a direct cyber-attack against the non-Roma. The main question of the play is whether the new world can really be solidary and faithful to the original idea?
Writer: Mihaela Dragan
Director: Tina Turnheim
The play by Romano Svato theatre company is about three women from different cultures who are in pre-trial detention, waiting for the assess of the right of asylum in Austria. Their first experiences of „the land of freedom” question the morality of the „know-it-all West”. The Iranian, Syrian and the Roma woman from Kosovo experience the same inhuman treatment, the brutality of male captors and the immigration officer, as well as the interrogation lasting for long hours, meanwhile they escaped from their homelands in the hope of safety. What can we do for them?
Writer: Sandra Selimovic, Simonida Selimovic, Marianne Strauhs
Director: Sandra Selimovic
Protagonist: Simonida Selimovic, Ivanana Nikolic, Mateja Maded, Jörg Waltenberger
Camera and Cut: Peter Sihorsch
I can see you – based on the short story ‘The Burrow’ by Franz Kafka
The story is about a small predator living underground in a home made by himself. His goal is to protect himself from the world, it is supposed and real dangers and as a solution he isolates himself from the world and the safety home becomes the prison of his own fears. The performance of the Rroma Act troupe from Berlin is a parody of receding nations and citizenship.
Contributors: Rebecca D. Surber, Nebojša Marković, Slaviša Marković