2009. január 25., vasárnap

After the Fall rehearsed readings from the best of the playwriting workshop

After the Fall -
only in Hungary: playwriting workshop  for young talents in the framework of the Goethe Institute's project

30 January 2009 - National Theatre Budapest

Concept and workshop leader: Merényi (Lengyel) Anna

With: Bánfalvi Eszter, László Attila, Mertz Tibor, Miklós Marcell, Péterfy Bori, Szalay Mariann

Directing help: Rába Roland

Workshop leader: Márton László, playwright, novelist

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.

The third and final week preceded the reading on the 30th of January. Roland Rába joined the group as an actor, but also as the directing mind and five winners were announced. Péter Nádai's Lonely cedar was not part of the programme, because the writer didn't want an excerpt to be read, but we heard excerpts from Alice Müller's yet incomplete brilliant absurd Elvira and Petunia, perhaps the favourite of the actors who are interested in further developing the work, as well as Márk Péter Vargha's Heartlessness, a story of a brave new world where coming of age is marked by an operation where one loses one's heart and redundant feelings and of a boy, whose heart always grows back, as well as Ferencz Csuszner's What's Left Behind about a Hungarian family in Communist Romania, who take their sick little daughter to the West, leaving their seven-year old son behind. 

It was extremely difficult to declare one winner, but or the purpose of the evening where we promised a full play to be read (with some cuts of course), we voted for Bettina Almássy's I am Drowning.  Almássy is an actress, director and now a playwright, so her most exciting feature perhaps was the way her play was constructed by a clearly very theatrical mind in a fairly unorthodox way.

Lengyel plans to continue working with these authors, but also more importantly devising playwriting workshops to discover young talent, so badly needed on Hungarian stages.

2009. január 16., péntek

Hungarian Weekend at the Volkstheater, Vienna

Programmierung, Organisation, Dramaturgie Hans Mrak/Hannah Lioba Egenolf
Konsulentin Anna Lengyel

György Dragoman
liest aus Der Weiße König
Freitag, 28.11., 19.30 Uhr

Gastspiel von Béla Pintér and Company, Budapest
In Ungarischer Sprache mit deutschen Übertiteln von Anna Lengyel

Freitag, 28.11., und Samstag, 29.11., jeweils 20. 30 Uhr, Samstag anschliessend Publikumsgespräch

Vater oder Die Anatomie eines Mordes
von Csaba Mikó
Szenische Lesung
Einrichtung Anna Lengyel
mit Katharina Vötter, Till Firit, Thomas Meczele
Samstag, 29.11., 18.00 Uhr

Die freie Szene in Ungarn - Vortrag von Anna Lengyel

Untitled Mars in Budapest


(This Title May Change)


at the National Theatre Budapest (Bajor Gizi Park 1.)

November 28 7 pm,
November 29 3pm and 7 pm

Conceived and Directed by Jay Scheib

Taking a cue from the space industry, Jay Scheib's latest work pits hard Science against Philip K. Dick as inter-planetary speculation runs amok, the indige-nous population gets screwed, and a strange "anomalous" kid seems to hold all the answers. Developed at MIT with a team of Mars researchers, a mission to colonize the Red Planet is revving up for 2017. Science vs. Fiction in this new work for seven performers and a simulated Martian environment—a story about moving society to Mars and what happens once we succeed...

“Dr. Zubrin insists: "We have to go to Mars simply because it's there." If Scheib's leading, we just might go along for the ride.”
Alexis Soloski, Village Voice
“The cast is quite charming. Caleb Hammond gets some good laughs playing the greedy and obnoxious Arnie. Dorka Gryllus is fantastic as the beautiful and mysterious Doreen. Laszlo Keszég plays very naturally the jaded and tired Sylvere, and Tanya Selvaratnam does a great job as his wife Jackie, the dry and calculating mechanic. April Sweeney is extremely alluring as the psychiatrist with a very effective solution to isolation. And Natalie Thomas is amazing and completely non-stop as Mannie the schizoid girl. Her energy hums throughout the entire performance.
Untitled Mars is a unique experience. I left the show still feeling captivated by what I'd just seen. Sometimes multimedia performances become too convoluted for their own good, but not this one. It's the first part of a trilogy of simulated cities and I for one plan on seeing the other two.”
Richard Hinojosa nytheatre.com

Mannie Natalie Thomas
Jackie Tanya Selvaratnam
Anne Esterházy April Sweeney
Arnie Caleb Hammond
Sylvere László Keszég
Doreen Dorka Gryllus
Norbert, Heliogabalus Balázs Vajna
With special on-camera appearances by Waris Ahluwalia, Phillip Cunio, Kofi Hope-Gund, Henrik Hargitai, Zahra Khan, and Dr. Robert Zubrin.

Conceived and Directed By Jay Scheib
Set Design By Peter Ksander,
Lighting Design by Miranda Hardy,
Costume Design by Oana Botez-Ban,
Sound Design by Catherine McCurry,
Video Design by Balázs Vajna and Miklós Buk,
Assistant Director Laine Rettmer
Hungarian Producer Anna Lengyel

Untitled Mars (This Title May Change) is made possible through the generous support of the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project For New Plays on Science & Technology; The Trust for Mutual Understanding; The Hungarian Cultural Center; Deutsch-Ungarische Industrie und Handelskammer; The Gertrude Stein Repertory Company; Swing Space, a program of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, generously supported by the September 11th Fund, project space donated by Capstone Equities; with special thanks to the Mars Society, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences


For the past five years, director Jay Scheib’s work as an artist in the theater has been focused on an array of hybrid, cross-disciplinary performance practices. Two works associated with this research were developed in collaboration with companies in Hungary and with collaborators from Romania, Ukraine as well as Western Europe. Those projects included two live-cinema performance works—the first workshop with the Krétakör Ensemble was the first step in the development of This Place is a Desert, which just had its world premiere at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, followed by a run at the Under the Radar Festival of the Public Theater in New York City, the second with Pont Műhely at Trafó was based on Tolstoy’s play The Power of Darkness - in both cases Anna Lengyel was dramaturge and initiator of the exchange. Scheib’s collaboration with artists in Central Europe has had a profound impact on his work as an artist in the United States. It has been a goal of his for some time now to create a meaningful collaboration between his collaborators in the United States and their Hungarian counterparts. Untitled Mars (this title may change) is the perfect opportunity.

Untitled Mars (this title may change) was first developed as a workshop with a studio presentation at the MIT Museum in Cambridge Massachusetts. Scheib developed his first workshop and studio performance on the 4th and 5th of October 2007 in Cambridge. Following the work in Cambridge, rehearsals started in New York during the last week of February 2008. Dramaturge Anna Lengyel, performer László Keszég, performer Dorka Gryllus and performer and video-artist Balázs Vajna have travelled from Budapest to NYC to be part of the ensemble. The world premier of Untitled Mars (this title may change) will take place at Performance Space 122 on April 9th 2008 with a run of three weeks. In the fall, the production will travel to Budapest where it will be translated and adapted, making Hungarian one of the principle languages. Director Jay Scheib, performers April Sweeney, Tanya Selvaratnam, Natalie Thomas, Karl Allen and Caleb Hammond, as well as set designer Peter Ksander, light designer Miranda Hardy and sound-designer Catherine McCurry will all travel from the US to Budapest to work towards Untitled Mars’ European premier in Budapest in the beginning of September 2008.

The Hungarian partners are all very excited about this chance of bringing Mars Untitled to Hungary, since this would be the first time your American work could be shown here after the three productions you did in the past years. Both GlassMohn at MU and Power of Darkness at Trafó made earlier in this collaboration were enthusiastically received by audiences and the latter was a real hit with some of the strictest theatre critics of this country. Scheib’s workshop with the internationally renowned Krétakör Theater of This Place is a Desert has contributed to his highly successful production presented at the Public Theater in New York City, but it also made a lasting impression on the Krétakör Company, some of whom the director then worked with on Power.

This collaboration on Mars Untitled is a crucial step in an almost ten-year old professional relationship between Pont‘s actor-director László Keszég and the dramaturge and producer, Anna Lengyel, whom Jay Scheib has invited to be part of the original Mars production in New York City at PS122. We are negotiating with the leading cutting edge festival, the Autumn Festival to program Mars and with some of the leading venues here to present the show three to six times.

Jay Scheib’s Gesamtkunstwerk-like approach to theater and his special sensitivity to space and his original Viewpoints technique combined with the strong absurdist traditions of the Hungarian stage tradition and Pont have always created unique and novel work in Hungary and has been always appreciated by critics and audiences alike.