only in Hungary: playwriting workshop for young talents in the framework of the Goethe Institute's project
30 January 2009 - National Theatre Budapest
With: Bánfalvi Eszter, László Attila, Mertz Tibor, Miklós Marcell, Péterfy Bori, Szalay Mariann
Directing help: Rába Roland
In the first half of the evening we heard a selection from the works of Ferencz Csuszner, Márk Péter Vargha and Alice Müller - all debutants who wrote their first play for this workshop, just like Bettina Almássy, whose entire I am Drowning about an Olympic champion swimmer from the DDR, who slowly and unbeknownst to her, is drugged into becoming a man, was read in the second half of the evening. In between Anna Lengyel interviewed the winners, as well as the playwright László Márton, whom she had asked to be her co-leader in this three-month workshop conceived to discover new talent among the youngest of a country, which has no plywriting program at any of its universities.
The first week of work started in November after 14 of the 32 applicants were selected to participate. The list included the German actress Alice Müller (one of the winners), who has only been living in Hungary for two years, as well as two girls just preparing for their high school graduation, two computer programmers, who were also among the winners, Péter Nádai, the only playwright who has been published before and Márk Péter Vargha, who had never read a play before he applied. Everyone had to apply with a text, which could be a scene, poetry, a novel or even a drama synopsis. During the first week László Márton gave short lectures about different aspects of the writer's job and the applicants kept writing and re-writing, based on what was discussed in the workshop. Two short stories' plots were further developed by the whole group, these became Heartlessness by Vargha and What's Left Behind by Ferencz Csuszner, a writer from Transylvania. A strong team was formed during the brainstorming and the intense work together despite the different backgrounds and ages ranging from 17 to 35 among the students.
Which is why despite the fact that only seven texts were selected by the two course-leaders for the second week in December based on the first full act of each play to be submitted, all 14 stayed together to continue the work. The novelty of the December week, as well as a novelty of any writers' workshop in Hungary were the actors, who according to Lengyel's concept joined the group for the afternoon sessions. This was a new experience for both parties concerned: the writers could hear their lines from the mouths of professional actors and see if the dialogue works and the character is consistent or rich enough, which question was always asked of the performers. On the other hand they had also never worked with a play just being born. Debates about the texts gained a different quality with the theatre people: it was their validity on stage, their logic in that of the theatre which counted. The evening sessions were kept for the literary work with Márton and Lengyel.