Roma heroes international theater festivals
The Independent Theatre Hungary, beginning from 2017, organises the world’s only international roma theatre festival annually. At the theatre event several Roma theatre companies and actors present themselves from various European countries. The goal of the festival is to show the values of Roma theatre to Roma and non-Roma communities, to young and old alike. You can find information about our previous festivals and performances below.
IV. International Roma Theatre Festival
The only international Roma theatre festival of the world is going to be organized for the fourth time by the Independent Theatre Hungary between 21 October and 9 December 2020 – this time online. We need heroes more than ever in these difficult times.
We work hard to be able to organize the festival this year as well. Teams from Romania, Ukraine, Austria, Germany and Hungary will be introduced. You can join us from anywhere around the world, all the performances will be subtitled in Hungarian and English. Eight new productions will be presented at the festival, focusing on survival and prosperity.
Are you interested in how the Romanian florist girl became a billionaire? Or what the cyber-witches are able to? Do you want to know what challenges a Roma woman who raised her child alone, lives in a poor, isolated little village and deals with money lending has to face? Or what the life in an Austrian refugee camp is like? How could a Roma community survive in Ukraine during WWII? Why does a Roma artist feel like an animal living in a burrow? How can anyone become a successful theatre creator being a Roma? Or how does a Roma family cope with quarantine when the family members live in different countries of Europe? Follow the Roma Heroes Festival from your armchair every week! Let the inspiring Roma heroes into your home week by week.
„What the Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities has definitely learned over the centuries is how to adapt to unexpected situations and how to react to them quickly. The key words of the Festival are survival and prosperity. We have a lot to say to anyone about the current situation during the pandemic period and it can happen that our opinion coincides on numerous levels with the experience of the audience. We hope the plays can give strength and motivation to everyone in everyday life.” – Rodrigo Balogh, chief organizer of the Festival, artistic director of Independent Theatre Hungary.
The performances can be seen every Wednesday at 7 p.m. online on our YouTube channel, and they will be followed by a discussion.
Briefly about the performances:
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.
The performance will be in Romanian with Hungarian and English subtitles and is followed by an online public discussion.
Written by Alex Fifea, Zita Moldovan, Andrei Serban
Text and documentation: Alex Fifea, Andrei Serban, Nona Serbanescu, Mihai Lukács, Zita Moldovan
Premiere: 21st October 2020 at 7 p.m.
Village Day – If it’s 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.
The performance will be in Hungarian with English subtitles and is followed by an online public discussion.
Written and directed by Rodrigó Balogh
Dramaturgy by Márton Illés
Protagonist: Emília Lovas, Dávid Csányi, Béla Stubnya, Cristopher Pászik, Orsolya Balogh, Judit Kőszegi
Premiere: 28th October 2020, at 7 p.m.
The gipsy theatre company created the performance in memory of the Roma victim in WWII. Leader does not only tell 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.
The performance will be in Russian with Hungarian and English subtitles and is followed by an online public discussion.
Written and directed by Igor Krikunov
Premiere: 4th November 2020, 19 p.m.
Perkucigo – The Life Story of Zsolt Fekete-Lovas
The concert-theatre 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.
The performance will be in Hungarian with English subtitles. The play is followed by an online public discussion.
Written by Csaba Székely and Zsolt Fekete-Lovas
Directed by Zsolt Fekete-Lovas, Attila Bordás and Péter Dávid
Premiere: 11th November 2020, at 7 p.m.
The members of a Roma family live in different points of Europe when the lockdown comes. They can only communicate on video chat, and have to 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 also 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
Written by Richard R. O’Neill
Co-writers: Sonia Carmona Tapia, Lucia Lakatos, Richard R. O’Neill, Sebastiano Spinella, Tamás Szegedi, Jaime Vicente Bohorquez
Directed by Rodrigó Balogh, Márton Illés, Péter Illés
Cinematographer and editor: Péter Illés
The performance will be in English with Hungarian subtitles and will be followed by an online public discussion.
Premiere: 18th November 2020 at 7 p.m.
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?
The performance will be in Romanian with Hungarian and English subtitles.
The play is followed by an online public discussion.
Written by Mihaela Dragan
Directed by Tina Turnheim
Premiere 25th November 2020 at 7 p.m.
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?
The performance will be in German with Hungarian and English subtitles and will be followed by an online public discussion.
Premiere: 9th December 2020 at 7 p.m.
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’s 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.
The performance will be in German with Hungarian and English subtitles. The performance is followed by an online public discussion.
Contributors: Rebecca D. Surber, Nebojša Marković, Slaviša Marković
Premiere: 16th December 2020 at 7 p.m.
Join us this year, too, because
„Theatre is for everyone!”
III. International Roma Heroes Theatre Festival
Independent Theater Hungary organizes the third Roma Heroes International Theatre Festival this year, between 24th August and 15th September, presenting Roma companies and their plays from several European countries. The shows take place in Eötvös 10 Theatre and in Vallai kert, RS9 Theatre.
In the past two years (2017 and 2018) we invited monodramas and storytelling performances to Hungary. The festival keeps growing and in 2019, the audience can get to know Roma chamber theatre plays. Our goal is to show the diversity of Roma theatre, also presenting different genres and topics. The artists tell stories from Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary about the past and present of Gypsy communities, showing their everyday challenges related to education, health care, migration, integration and assimilation. “So far, the plays presented the viewpoint of one hero, but this year, different points of views and the diverse relations of Roma and non-Roma communities will be in the spotlight”, said Rodrigó Balogh, artistic director of the theatre and the festival.
The plays are performed with English subtitles and Hungarian interpreting, so they are accessible for Hungarian and foreign audience as well.
In August 2019, two plays present the active youth.
Both plays star youngsters who draw attention to the challenges and active engagement of the new generation.
Sokheren amenca! /forever holiday!
The coproduction of Gorki Studio in Berlin and Romano Svato company in Vienna is based on the real life story of the Yugoslavian sisters who were born in Germany but got recently deported from there, with the help of professional actors and youngsters.
Hungarian premiere: 24th August 2019, 6 p.m., Eötvös10 Közösségi és Kulturális Színtér
Audience discussion with the artists after the show.
The play “Shoddies” by Independent Theater Hungary also put youngsters on the stage to show the insane health care system, their own traumas and prejudices, and to ask themselves as well as the spectators what we can do – instead of complaining – to improve this situation.
Public rehearsal: 23rd August 2019, 6 p.m., RS9 Theatre, Vallai kert
Premiere: 25th August 2019, 6 p.m., RS9 Theatre, Vallai kert
Audience discussion with the artists after the show.
In September 2019, two plays discuss the deadly challenges of the community.
While one play evokes history, the other explores the circumstances of a young girl’s death.
The festival continues in September with the Czech ARA Art company, evoking Roma history in a new form, building on the elements of circus arts. The storytelling of the old Roma women guides us through the fate and past of the community, starting with the origin legend of Gypsy people, through modern history and Holocaust till the assimilation efforts of the socialist regime. Even though the story presents a Czech perspective, it raises topics and issues that are important for Roma communities in Hungary as well.
Hungarian premiere: 14th September 2019, 6 p.m., Eötvös10 Közösségi és Kulturális Színtér
Audience discussion with the artists after the show.
Giuvlipen company from Bucharest tells the story of a young Roma girl who would like to keep studying but neither her family nor her school supports her. The play is based on a real story and presents the struggle of the girl from various perspectives, raising the validity of different approaches and at the same time pointing out collective responsibility that no one can escape.
Hungarian premiere: 15th September 2019, 6 p.m., RS9 Theatre, Vallai kert
Audience discussion with the artists after the show.
if you would like to book your tickets contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Roma Heroes International Theatre Festival is the one and only international theatre meetup in the world for Roma theatres which aims to bring together the minority and the majority, and strengthen Roma communities by showing the values and challenges of Roma theatre and communities.
Roma Heroes – 2nd International Roma Storytelling Festival
“Roma Heroes” is the title of the one and only international Roma theatre festival in the world, which is organized by Independent Theatre Hungary for the second time between 24-27th May, in Studio K Theatre (1092 Budapest, Ráday u. 32.).
By presenting eight contemporary European plays, the special cultural event sheds light on the values of Roma drama and storytelling, draws attention to the situation of Roma communities and puts exemplary life courses and extraordinary challenges into the spotlight.
The international festival of Roma theatre in Budapest focuses on personal storytelling. The programme of the four-day-long festival consist of plays presenting Roma heroes who were able to initiate changes in their own life or in their community. Having watched the performances, the activity of the protagonists stay with us and gives food for our thoughts afterwards.
“Roma theatre artists and storytellers deserve more attention than what they get now” – claims Rodrigo Balogh, artistic director of the festival organizer Independent Theater – “There are a lot of valuable artists in Europe, this is also proved by the fact that this year, we received much more applications to the festival than how many artists we could invite. In the future, we will have to show several other storytelling performances and theatre plays to the world – and cultural decision-makers throughout Europe have to be aware of this demand too. The festival proves that the members of Roma communities have been living their lives in accordance with middle class values for a long time.”
The eight plays will be presented with Hungarian and English surtitles or interpreting.
The play Chameleon Girl by Independent Theater Hungary shows the heroic stories of present-day Roma youngsters who participated in the workshops related to last year festival.
You didn’t see anything by Alex Fifea and David Schwartz (Romania) examines the circumstances of a Roma man’s death murdered a few years ago.
Nataliya Tsekova (Bulgaria) in her play Gypsy Wheels tells the story of a Roma woman trying to get rid of her own identity and memories.
Sonia Carmona Tapia (Spain) presents two parallel lives: one is a Roma woman who was beatified last year and the other is a world-known performing artist. The two women stood up to the communists and the Franco-regime with Profound Dignity.
Sebastiano Spinella (Italy) – whose family hid their Roma origin from him, to which the circus artists who travelled a lot in Europe finally returned– speaks about his own life in his play Children of the Wind.
Three youngsters from Tudás6alom Company, Franciska Farkas, Cristopher Pászik and Norbert Varga also revive their own memories in the play Let me tell you a story, and share how they found their own way after many challenges and bypasses.
The play Today’s Lesson by Richard O’Neill (United Kingdom) presents a Traveller teacher who was urged by the school he worked for to conceal his origin.
Michael Collins (Ireland), who is also a Traveller, tells his own life story to his daughter to convince her it is important to study, in his play It’s a cultural thing. Or is it?
After each performance, the audience can participate in a conversation with the artists. After the festival, an educational material will be prepared based on the plays, which will complete the educational methodology based on the shows presented at the last year festival.
The aim of the educational material is to show the values of Roma plays and protagonists to youngsters; and to help the students to present the heroes in their own community with creative art methods. In autumn 2018, the educational methodology will be taken to – mostly Roma – students in Hungary.
Roma Heroes – I. International Roma Storytelling Festival
This is the title of the first international Roma Storytelling Festival organized by Independent Theater Hungary on 27-28 July 2017 in Studio K Theater (1092 Budapest, Ráday u. 32.).
By presenting the monodramas of four contemporary European playwrights, the special cultural event aims to shed light on the values of Roma theatre, draw attention to the situation of Roma communities, especially of Roma women, and to put exemplary life courses, role models and heroes in the spotlight.
From the play I Declare at My Own Risk by Alina Serban we learn about how the playwright got to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, starting from a Roma settlement in Bucharest.
Hardest Word, the play by the British author, Richard R. O’Neill presents how Jess Smith, the Scottish traveller woman, confronts the first minister of Scotland and fights for the recognition of Traveller people’s human rights.
In Speak, My Life by Dijana Pavlovic unfolds the life story of Mariella Mehr, the Swiss Jenish writer, and the attempted genocide of Jenish people in Switzerland in 20th century.
Del Duma by Mihaela Dragan tells about the life of Gypsy women in Romania
and the difficulties they have to face.
After the festival, the authors with the help of Hungarian education experts will develop an educational methodology based on the monodramas, addressing university students. The aim of the educational material is to show valuable Roma plays and Roma heroes to Hungarian and foreign youngsters; moreover, to help the students to present their own heroes in a creative way. In autumn 2017, the educational methodology is planned to be taken to – mostly Roma – students in Hungary, and in the following years, to access youngsters in further European countries.