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 Several Hungarian writers have withdrawn their plays from the theatre in protest.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.
Roger Lloyd Pack
April de Angelis
Bernie Corbett General secretary of the Writers' Guild
Christine Payne General secretary of Equity
Malcolm Sinclair President of Equity
Geraldine D'Amico Jewish Book Week
Denise Epstein Daughter of Irène Némirovsky
Amanda Hopkinson PEN
Sharif István Horthy