Friday, 27 January 2012

Hungary, The New Theatre, Letter in The Guardian / Roma film

The scene above is from the siege, last year, of the Roma community of Gyöngyöspata, a village in Hungary, and here a film, edited, with English subtitles, published today by The Guardian to accompany it.

The letter below is the complete text of the one published yesterday, also in The Guardian. It is an impressive collection of theatre people. I'm the bottom signatory.

Open, liberal theatre under fire in Hungary

We are alarmed by the imposition of a far-right director on one of Budapest's leading theatres, and call on our foreign secretary and the international community to put pressure on the Hungarian government to reverse the decision before 1 February, the day the theatre is scheduled to change hands. Following the election of the rightwing Fidesz party, the mayor of Budapest sacked the director of Új Színház (the New Theatre), and appointed actor György Dörner in his place. Dörner supports the anti-Roma, anti-gay and antisemitic party Jobbik. Jobbik has been forced to disband its militia, the Hungarian Guard, but its presidential candidate recently stated that Jews were "lice-infested dirty murderers". The party has 47 members of the Hungarian parliament.

Currently, the New Theatre presents both Hungarian plays and the international canon, from Schiller to Shakespeare. Dörner plans to reverse what he describes as a "degenerate, sick, liberal hegemony" in Hungary by stopping the production of "foreign garbage" and concentrating on Hungarian plays. These include the work of his friend and adviser István Csurka, an open antisemite, advocate of the Jewish conspiracy theory, and president of the Hungarian Justice and Life party. Several Hungarian writers have withdrawn their plays from the theatre in protest.

The change imposed on the New Theatre may not be the last. Jobbik and other extreme-right groups are campaigning and demonstrating against the Hungarian National Theatre, calling its work "obscene, pornographic, gay, anti-national and anti-Hungarian". The campaign against a liberal Hungarian theatre, open to the world, is part of a move in Hungary towards intolerance and against democracy. The historical parallels are obvious and chilling. We support Hungarian theatre-makers in opposing this appointment, and urge our government to demand that the Hungarian government overturn this decision.

Artistic directors:
Michael Attenborough
Michael Boyd
Dominic Cooke
Daniel Evans
Nicholas Hytner
David Lan
Nicolas Kent
Josie Rourke
Erica Whyman

Rosalind Ayres
Eve Best
Simon Callow
Bertie Carvel
James Frain
Romola Garai
Gawn Grainger
Henry Goodman
Martin Jarvis
Toby Jones
Beverley Klein
Roger Lloyd Pack
James Purefoy
Antony Sher
Imelda Staunton
Dan Stevens
Janet Suzman
Harriet Walter
Zoë Wanamaker
Samuel West
Timothy West

Neil Bartlett
Gregory Doran
Richard Eyre
Kevin Macdonald
Trevor Nunn
Indhu Rubasingham
Tim Supple

Richard Bean
Howard Brenton
Moira Buffini
Caryl Churchill
April de Angelis
David Edgar
Michael Frayn
Lee Hall
David Hare
Terry Johnson
Mark Ravenhill
Laura Wade
Timberlake Wertenbaker
Arnold Wesker

Bernie Corbett General secretary of the Writers' Guild
Christine Payne General secretary of Equity
Malcolm Sinclair President of Equity
Joan Bakewell
Don Black
Geraldine D'Amico Jewish Book Week
Jessica Duchen
Denise Epstein Daughter of Irène Némirovsky
Ruth Fainlight
Henrietta Foster
Michael Grade
Amanda Hopkinson PEN
Dennis Marks
Kate Pakenham
Sharif István Horthy
András Schiff
George Szirtes


Anonymous said...

Thank for reposting this article and your support against the appointment of György Dörner. This is a very concerning issue that must be addressed.

bwdevacaciones said...

..logged on and have been reading 'Bury Me Standing' by Isabel Fonseca which describes govt/police persecution of Roma in E Europe. I will add my name, BW

Borsó said...

The Contrarian Hungarian blog has a report today on the far-right Jobbik party's "season opening" convention yesterday.

George S said...

Thank you, and particularly Borso for the link. I have been to that site before and will again. Good to kinow it's there.

Borsó said...

Just to follow up, the Contrarian Hungarian has a review of what went on in the streets on the first day of the New Theatre's new regime.