Muck, a country soap opera

Béla Pintér and company, Budapest, Hungary, 2010
Author: Béla Pintér
Dirested by Béla Pintér

about the production

Those who saw at the Divadelná Nitra 2007 the production called The Queen of the Cookies, know what they can expect from the playwright and director Béla Pintér. The formal and form-shaping theatre language, inspired by a ritual, using various high or low expression of culture… In the case of Muck “Pinter’s people”, painfully and daringly, do not reflect the past, they speak directly and openly about here and now, about us, our presence, our stereotypes, flaws and guilt.

The Roma issue and racist demonstrations are issues in Hungary as well as Slovakia; it is sad that these phenomena connect our countries, but at the same time they divide them. Pintér confronts the audience directly with these phenomena, but there is still some time until we realize that the protagonists of this balladic story, connected with nature and naturalness, head for disaster. Of course, Pintér realizes that building a production on such a hot yet for years not solved problem like the ethnic hatred and extremism is the walking on thin ice. It is uneasy not to slip into moralizing, to criticize and use irony but to keep human view and sensitivity. There are two worlds helping Pintér which he depicts exactly – on one side, there is the world of traditional folk ballads which by its coded language and metaphors symbolically comments the sweetly painful, soap-opera-like story of adopted girls; on the other side, there is the world of a village amateur theatre and some provincial theatre showcase which this theatre maker (Pintér) knows to his fingertips. While the folklore, poetry of ballads, accompanied by monotonous music, almost hypnotize our mind and make us to perceive reality in a different way than rationally and logically, in the case of depicting the life of the amateur theatre, which is funny an exact even for those who have never worked in such a theatre, we realize broader connections of the reality of a community, the independent theatre which Pintér and his ensemble are. The work with a folklore material is typical for the theatre and creative work of Pintér, nevertheless in this context it is given another dimension – not only during the period of communism were folklore and old traditions abused for false pretending of national feelings, self-confidence and identity.

Despite it being a political, socially committed theatre, it does not bring only facts and does not work only with pamphlet. It is exact in the psychological depicting of the characters, mainly their development – the transformation of the Roma girl Anita into a woman and her almost animal following of instincts and of what the majority of society (i.e. the audience) awaits (that she steals, lies, makes intrigues), and the transformation of the white Rózsika from an ugly girl full of complexes into a “convinced defender” of the social justice and rights of her adoptive mother, clothed in the uniform of an extremist movement.
Romana Maliti

“Pintér and his ensemble have incredibly high sensitivity and sensors which can create more than mere categories of good and evil; through irony they reject and judge everything what is really amoral, what really offends, hurts and humiliates people… Today’s Hungarian society is exactly like the character of Rózsi: she has got a feeling that nobody loves her and so she is angry, and for this anger she gives punches and pseudo-truths from left to right.”
Bencsik Orsolya, XX. Theater Fesztivál, Szeged, Kisszínház


script & direction: Bela Pinter
assistants of the director: Andrea Pass, Gyula Inhaizer, Rozalia Hajdu
music: Robert Kerenyi
costume design: Mari Benedek
assistant of costume designer: Julia Kiss
set designer: Gabor Tamas
mask, puppet: Sosa Juristovszki
light: Zoltan Vida
characters and cast: Rozsi: Zsofia Szamosi, Iren: Tunde Szalontay, Anita: Eva Enyedi, Attila: Zoltan Friedenthal, Uncle Bandi: Szabolcs Thuroczy, Uncle Pali: Laszlo Quitt, Bela: Gyork Szakonyi, Etus: Hella Roszik, Profesor, Professor, Policeman: Béla Pintér


In 1998 Béla Pintér (1970) grouped some professional as well as amateur actors and created a theatre production entitled Common Bondage. Every year since then he has created a new production in the independent experimental theatre group Szkené, each of which has received many awards... The most successful of them was Peasant Opera – a balladic story in which Pintér connects original myths about incest, secrets of birth and killing of new-born babies with typical motives of Hungarian folk ballads, and with composer Benedek Darvas he mixes recitals of Baroque harpsichord operas with folk songs of Transylvania. In 2003 at the Hungarian National Theatre Pintér and the ensemble prepared a production entitled Devuschka – a musical about Hungary participating in WWII, mixing the late-Romantic opera elements with songs from a Hungarian film from 1940. The production was nominated for the Spielzeiteuropa-Werkpreis 2004 at the Berliner Festspiele, and in 2009 at the Small Scenes Theatre Festival Rijeka, Croatia, it received awards for Best Stage Design, Costume, Music and a special award as Discovery of the Year.

Béla Pintér and his ensemble represent the most important and most innovative independent theatre group in Hungary which won the Hungarian Critic’s Prize four times (three years in the row). They find attraction in original Hungarian folk art as well as post-modern forms of dramatic creation.

Materials available

Script of the production: SK, HU

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