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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

400 companies from 58 countries to perform in 10th Theatre Olympics

From Easter to Midsummer’s night, Budapest and Hungary will become a celebratory meeting point for theatrical world as 400 companies from 58 countries converge to perform in the 10th International Theatre Olympics. Originally taking place in Greece in 1995, the event is theatrical gathering in the spirit of tradition, modernity, and the ancient Olympics. This year, companies from as far as Mexico and Japan will journey to the nation’s capital and venues around Hungary. With theatre, street theatre, dance, puppetry exhibitions and alternative arts, summer in Hungary will be packed with performance of all styles, shapes and sizes.

Representing the UK will be renowned theatre companies Complicité and Cheek by Jowl. Joining them are UK favourites such as Belgium’s Peeping Tom alongside a Ukrainian Caligula, a Chinese Faust and an Indian Macbeth. There will be a parade of giant puppets down the streets to open a two week programme of worldwide puppetry work in May, traditional Hungarian dance alongside ballet and contemporary, and a mass, international performance of Hungary’s The Tragedy of Man in dozens of language.

The slogan of the 2023 Theatre Olympics comes from The Tragedy of Man by Imre Madách: “O Man, strive on, strive on, have faith; and trust!” One of the Hungary’s greatest dramatists, born 200 years ago in 1823, the celebration of his bicentenary will be a centre point of the Hungarian Theatre Olympics.

Imre Madách’s, The Tragedy of Man, a masterpiece comparable to Goethe’s Faust, premiered 140 years ago. The work will be at the centre of special exhibition at the National Theater of Hungary, with footage and photographs as well as visual design from award-winning set designer Mira János providing theatrical framework. Madách’s work will be presented throughout the festival in conferences and new books, culminating in a large-scale, international performance. Theatre school teams from all over the world will perform excerpts from The Tragedy of Man, and then put them together in an epic joint production, performed in dozens of languages, for the festival closing ceremony on 23rd June.

With festivals within the festival, a major part of the 10th Theatre Olympics will be played by MITEM – the 9th Madách International Theatre Meeting – Hungary’s largest theatre festival at the National Theatre in Budapest. Performances include Shakespearean tragedies from Georgia, India and Italy; ancient Greek tragedies performed in Japanese; Brecht performed in Ukrainian; and Oscar winning actress Juliette Binoche performs reading The Matter of Light.

Opening with a parade of giant puppets in the streets, other highlights of the Theatre Olympics include ABSTRACT – 1st Budapest International Contemporary Puppet Festival. It will host some of the most exciting performances from France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and beyond, as well as Dutch puppeteer Duda Paiva, Stephen Mottram from England, and German-born Ilka Schönbein. The Budapest Operetta Theatre, which is 100 years old this year, will also host a week long Csárdásfürstin Festival.

The theatres in Budapest and all over Hungary will join the Hungarian Olympics; and they will host one production from abroad and one from a transborder Hungarian theatre – the choice of which is up to them. In this way, the Hungarian-language theatres of Hungary's neighbouring countries can be part of the Olympics, and the invitation of international companies can create long-term partnerships for Hungarian theatres.

Theodoros Terzopulos, Chairman of the International Committee of the Theatre Olympics, said, “Hungary, with its great and far-reaching theatrical traditions, has been taking an active part in the global developments in the field of theatre practice and theory. Budapest, a beautiful and unique monument of the world’s cultural heritage, is an international cultural metropolis ready to build bridges connecting other theatrical traditions. Well-staffed with talented and experienced artistic, technical and administrative experts, the National Theatre is the institutional hub of Hungarian theatre that is as open to avant-garde international theatrical proposals as it is to upholding the principles of tradition. Thus it is well-placed to build new bridges between different schools and stage languages. In this day and age when homogenization of the theatre is the prevailing trend, the National Theatre, whose motto is reconciliation and New Humanism, embraces diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism.”


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