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.

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.

Who killed Szomna Grancsa?

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.

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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.