about the production
Is there an objective truth in connection with issues related to the past? Has the state system power to determine who is mentally sound and who is not? How does the state power control its citizens and why is it doing it? These are just a few questions put by the Hungarian team of the project Parallel Lives in their production of Reflex. Although the story of a psychiatrist pursued by the communist regime is focal, the questions put by the authors are highly topical.
For the young authors Dániel D. Kovács and Péter Závada topicality is an important part of the whole story – in order to better understand the present, we have to study the past. It is one of the premises that were at the beginning of their work for the project Parallel Lives. Their production is literally about a parallel life. Life of a certain psychiatrist, which has been torn to pieces by the communist power.
The main subject of the story captures the fate of R. Z., a psychiatrist who ends up as a patient in the hospital for the mentally disturbed. She is diagnosed as a schizophrenic, but she claims that the state security has conspired against her to eliminate her. Therefore, she starts writing reports about her “gaolers”, while the doctors on duty write reports about her. An almost kafkaesque, dreadful story has the ambition to show the machinery and the terror of the communist regime which has many innocent victims on its records. However, the young Hungarian authors are not moralising. On the contrary, they are pointing out the incongruity and ambiguity of the whole story by applying irony and overview, which is so typical of them and suits the grotesque.
Is the psychiatrist R. Z. really ill? Or is she just thought to be ill by the state power, because it is playing its own game and needs to get rid of a cumbersome person? And although we never learn the real truth about R. Z., what is important is the fact that the production provides a metaphor of power functioning towards an individual, power which creates mechanisms to control the thinking and the conduct of an individual. And it was not only this Foucault idea that has attracted the Hungarian authors, but also the study of the discursive practice of the period, i.e., what were the ideological structures of the period which „enabled“ such tragic human stories and what it means for today.
Dániel D. Kovács belongs to the youngest generation of Hungarian directors which continues in the footsteps of their slightly older and more famous colleagues, such as Viktor Bodó and Kornél Mundruczó. Together with their peer, poet and author Péter Závada, they are a promise for an independent, ideologically and formally provocative theatre. It is an asset to the project Parallel Lives that young authors make statements about the recent past and the communist regime, although they themselves have had no direct experience of it. The more interesting it is to watch what view of their country’s past they present to us.
The origin of the production was initiated by the Divadelná Nitra Association within the project Parallel Lives – 20th Century through the Eyes of the Secret Police. Hungarian premiere: 28 October 2013
directed by Dániel D. Kovács
choreography: Máté Hegymegi
dramaturgy: Péter Závada
dramaturgy consultant: Tamás Turai
head of production: Ildikó Ságodi
assistant: Andrea Pass
set and costme design: Julia Balazs
music and sound: Gábor Keresztes
cast: Miklós Béres, Gábor Fábián, Károly Hajduk, Péter Jankovics, Pál Kárpáti, Dániel Király, Lőte Koblicska, Niké Kurta, Kata Pető, Nóra Rainer Micsinyei, Zoltán Szabó
Dániel D. Kovács (1986) is studying direction under the guidance of Gábor Székely and Viktor Bodó at the University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest. Since 2007 he has been a member of the Radical Freetime Theatre and since 2009 a member of Fantommajmok. He has participated in many workshops and, as a theatre director, attracted the attention of such directors as Sándor Zsótér, Viktor Bodó and Gábor Székely with his shows presented at the seminars even during his studies.
Péter Závada (1982) obtained his university diploma from English and Italian languages at the Loránd Eötvös University (ELTE). For several months he lived in California, Rome and Paris and was active as a lecturer of foreign languages and a text writer. As a dramaturgist and scriptwriter he participated in the production of several important theatre productions. In 2010 he co-operated with the Budapest alternative theatre group Spidron. His first joint project with the director Dániel D. Kovács was the paraphrase of Molière’s L’Impromptu de Versailles, which they produced at the University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) as part of their semester examinations and which was excellently received by reviewers. Since 2009 Závada has been publishing poems in recognised Hungarian literary journals. His first collection of poems was published in 2012.
Video of the production: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN
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