All images from dunaPart.net
Performed by Luca BORSOS, László GÖNDÖR, Julia JAKUBOWSKA, Imre VASS Graphic designer, animator: Zoltán ÁSMÁNY
Music, sound design: Márk BARTHA
Set design: Stephan POTENGOWSKI
Costume design: Raissa KANKELFITZ
Lights, technical director: Mátyás JANKÓ
Production assistant: Sophie ECKHARDT, Ilja MIRSKY, Dóra TÉSI
Dramaturg: Gábor THURY
Producer: Daniel MAYER
Directed by Martin BOROSS
Date I saw This Show: 27 November, 2019
What I Saw
Performed in English on the festival’s opening night in the big theatre at Trafó, European Freaks asks the question: what does the European Union mean in 2019? Four actors dressed in slick black and white costumes and playing the parts of ‘Eurohumanoids’ (a sort of human-robot hybrid) set off to investigate what it means to be European. In their quest, they bring in five members from different EU states to meet as a focus group and debate the merits and drawbacks of the EU and to investigate the average European’s desires, nightmares, and sins. At various points, different statistics of the “average European” are projected onto a large screen upstage. The focus group members convene around a modern, sleek, white IKEA boardroom table and are asked to decide who to kick out of the EU, weighing things like total cost versus productivity of various nation states.
As an American I had not realized that the creation of the EU prompted existential questions about national identity and country of origin. From my naïve perspective, the EU was simply an instrument of convenience—allowing the freer exchange of commerce, travel, and currency across the member nations on the continent. Watching European Freaks helped me to understand the deeper and more difficult questions that Europeans are grappling with that come from this shared identity—not just a union of pragmatism, but one that aspires to be bound by shared values of freedom, democracy, and prosperity. And what does it mean when a member nation does not uphold those shared values? In this way, I came to view the European Union as Europe’s own messy, imperfect version of E pluribus Unum.
Although my full enjoyment of the performance was perhaps impinged upon by lingering jet lag, I appreciated the bold visuals, strong acting, and solid concept and directing that can be expected from Stereo Akt.
About the Artist
STEREO AKT is one of the most progressive Hungarian contemporary theatre collectives, which creates event-like performances under the leadership of Martin Boross. They create in the present for the present, initiating dialogues about communities and society in general. All of their performances rely on the presence of the audience members. They work along causes, and according to the concept of each performance they involve collaborators from various fields: theatre, dance, music, sound design, visual and fine arts.
They work with innovative approaches and new perspectives, using new dramaturgies and technologies on stage and in public spaces as well. Theatre is an event, audience members are participants, and the point of the event is the meeting of the participants’ reality with the fantasy of the artist. The essence of STEREO AKT performances is born from the, often wordless, dialogue between the audience and the performers.
Since its foundation in 2013, STEREO AKT has created 15 full-length performances, a documentary movie, and a number of smaller-scale artistic projects. They have worked in numerous local and international collaborations, and have participated in well-known festivals and won several awards. STEREO AKT has many collaborative projects in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Spain and the US.
STEREO AKT participated in dunaPart3 (2015) with Promenade and dunaPart4 (2017) with Addressless.