© 2020 by CITD.

All images from dunaPart.net

JUBILEE TALKS

by Béla Pintér and Company

Performed by Sándor “Qpa” BENCZE, Éva ENYEDI, Zoltán FRIEDENTHAL, Antal KÉMÉNCZY, Béla PINTÉR, Hella ROSZIK, Angéla STEFANOVICS, Zoltán SZABÓ, Sándor TERHES, Szabolcs THURÓCZY

Dramaturg: Éva ENYEDI

Music: Antal KÉMÉNCZY

Set: Gábor TAMÁS

Costume designer: Mari BENEDEK, Dóra PATTANTYUS

Sound: Zoltán BELÉNYESI

Lights: László VARGA

Assistants to the director: Rozi HAJDÚ, Dóra HORNYÁK, Krisztina NAGY

Directed by Béla PINTÉR
Premiere: 2019

Date I saw This Show: 27 November, 2019

 

What I Saw

 

Oh how I wish this were not the first piece by Béla Pintér that I had the opportunity to see. Jubliee Talks is Pintér’s play celebrating, in his signature satirical style, twenty years of his independent theatre company. The piece is 80 minutes of jokes and references to Hungarian politics, to the production history of the company, to the company members, and to Béla himself. Absent any context or familiarity with the company’s work, the play was impenetrable—like watching Saturday Night Live in a foreign language without subtitles. The festival curators agreed that this is not Pintér’s best work, but given his stature and importance in independent theatre, they felt obliged to include it among the festival offerings.

 

The play begins with members of the company seated around a long banquet table, which I understand is itself a visual reference to an earlier Pintér play. One of the actors serves as an M.C./interviewer and asks his fellow performers about their history with the company. There are a lot of political jokes (the English-speaking audience was given a cheat sheet with two pages of names and references, briefly explained) and a lot of lampooning of the company members.

 

Eventually, the banquet table set transforms and the stage becomes a disco-ball, neon-and-strobe-light-filled romp of chaos and absurdity. There are wax figures of “dead” company members, actors in animal costumes, a headless performer, and lots and lots of jokes about sodomy, gleefully simulated by Pintér himself. Perhaps this was his clumsy attempt to send up himself and his stage antics, to playfully parody his primary role in the company he has created and led for twenty years. But it read like thinly-veiled hero worship disguised as self-mockery but ultimately intended to venerate Pintér and his legacy. It didn’t work for me and I left wondering if I could even stomach a different piece by the same artist, as this initial sampling was so off-putting.

About the Artist

The Béla Pintér and Company was founded in 1998 under the leadership of Béla Pintér, who stages his own plays and also performs in them as an actor.

 

The artists’ intention is to create contemporary productions based on critical-ironic observations of society and themselves. The surreal world which generally characterizes their productions is constructed from a combination of reality and dream, of authentic and kitsch, and from sundry elements of Hungarian culture. Thanks to its success, the company is nowadays regarded as the operator of one of the most significant and most inventive creative workshops in Hungary.

 

In the past 20 years the company has been invited to several international theatre festivals and has performed in the USA, Serbia, Greece, Germany, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, The Netherlands, Poland, Finland, Portugal, France, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Russia, Wales and many more. In January 2020 Béla Pintér will travel to Baltimore as a guest director to stage his former play, The Champion at Peabody Opera.

 

Béla Pintér is also appreciated as a playwright; his dramas have been published in two volumes so far and several of his dramas have been translated into German, Polish, Czech and Chinese.

 

The company participated in dunaPart3 (2015) with Our Secrets.