All images by Attila Takács
Jurányi Incubator House
Presented by Orlai Productions
Written by: Éva Péterfy-Novák
Directed by: Béla Paczolay
Performed by: Réka Tenki
What I Saw
Onewoman leads one to believe that the circumstances of the protagonist are ordinary – that she is an ‘everywoman’ of sorts. Nothing could be further from the truth. But this moniker is somewhat in jest - the events that occur to the main character are in fact extraordinary. But extraordinary events occur to 'everymen' all the time. In a breathless monologue that draws the audience into a tense state, Réka Tenki recreates the spiral of a woman blogger who spills her secrets on domestic life.
The confessional style is genius. Tenki speaks directly to the audience as if we are her confidantes, much like an online journal can provide relief through a digital audience. The play is chock full of taboos that plague family life. It seems that our Onewoman was in domestic bliss, over the moon with her husband and expectant with child. But the point of the performance is to show the cruelties of nature and how impossible they are to stop – a Chekhovian idea that permeated throughout many of the stories in the festival. Not long after the birth of the child, it is revealed that the baby has a terminal illness. Onward begins a fast blur of spousal abuse and divorce, financial ruin, social ostracizing, and more as our heroine tumbles helplessly. Each happiness is stolen from her over time, with all of the sweet events in the character's life tinged with bitterness and a sense of dread.
Without a stellar performance by Tenki, Onewoman would have been difficult to follow and rambling. However, the pacing and fascinatingly direct address was compelling to watch. The circumstances of the performance marked the everyday tragedies that happen to parents all over the world, so it was a draw for the international delegation as well.
Nuts and Bolts
Company Name: Orlai Productions
Premiere: 21. October, 2015
Running time: 90 minutes
Performed in Hungarian with English subtitles
Written by: Éva Péterfy-Novák
Stage adoptation: István Tasnádi
Assistant to the director: Judit Kis-Kádi
Set and Costume design: Eszter Kálmán
Composer: Béla Barabás
Directed by: Béla Paczolay
The performace is produced by contribution of FÜGE and Orlai Production Office.
Cast Size: 1
Touring Size: 2
Translation options: Subtitles
Touring history: Across Hungary 2015-2017
Representation: Orlai Production Office
Phone: + 36/1 / 367-3478
Fax: + 36/1 / 367-3478
Office mobile number: + 36/70 / 300-21-12
Synopsis: WHO? Of the few theatre works by film and advertisement director Béla Paczolay’s Onewoman is one of the finest. Réka Tenki gives account of the unspeakable with an amazing actorial presence. Through a shockingly suggestive play, Tenki embodies an endlessly happy and slightly wacky young mother who, following a sharp cut, becomes a broken character, survivor of a momentous tragedy, who still radiates love. WHAT? This is a real story. The real-life protagonist of the play, Éva Péterfy-Novák receives the diagnosis from almost all doctors that her daughter became mentally impaired during birth. Doctors say there was nothing to be done. What more, they advise the young mother to give up her child, saying ‘there will come another’. The child survived the diagnosis with two years, while, thirty years after the events, the mother decided to share their years spent together in a blog. The blog of staggering honesty was made into a book, and the book was set on stage. WHY? Onewoman is a true story about the painful secrets of life, of which people don’t usually talk. It tells the story of the loss of a disabled child, the outrageous reactions of doctors, the depths of despair. A tragic yet uplifting parable, which is special in its ability to tell a story of horror while still radiating an incessant hope.
"Éva Péterfy-Novák got the same diagnosis from almost all doctors, that her daughter became mentally injured during her birth. The girl survived the diagnosis by seven years and thirty years later the mother decided to write about the time they spent together in a blog. A book was written from the painfully honest blog and a theatre play was made from the book. Pál Mácsai commented about the book: ‘Every life is imposing when it is told honestly. This book is a true mirror of reality. It cannot be put down or forgotten.’
The ‘Onewoman’ is a true story about the painful secrets of life that people usually don’t talk about. It is a tragic yet elevating fable, the speciality of which is that although it talks about horror, yet it transmits unshakeable joy of life. The play Onewoman premiered on 21st October 2015 supported by Orlai Production and Füge, performed by Réka Tenki. The play was written based on the successful blog written by Éva Pétefy-Novák and the book recently published and adapted on the stage by István Tasnádi. The performance is directed by Béla Paczolay."
Réka Tenki: I was born on the 18th of June in 1986 in Debrecen. Since many of my relatives on my father’s side worked behind the scenes, the theatre has been my second home ever since I was a little child. It is my natural environment; for me, it symbolizes fulfillment, stability, magic and dreams. I had always been watching the puppet performances, the concerts, operas and other theatre moments from the lighting box or from backstage because there was always something going on and everything seemed much more exciting by my father’s side. That is why I love watching the preparations before a performance so much – then you can witness the most secret things. I have learnt endurance, diligence and humility from my family and also from my folk dance and ballet classes. They have thought me that whatever is the result of your work, you shall never give up. If you have done your best, there is no reason to be ashamed. You always can and should stand up again after you fall. In order to evolve, you should always stand up for your decisions. And you should always stand up for yourself, because nobody else will. Since my birthday is in the summer, everything happened in my life sooner than usual. With the folk dance group, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe when I was thirteen and we also visited China. I graduated in the drama class of the Ady Endre High School in Debrecen where I had the chance to play Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Csokonai Theatre when I was sixteen. I was admitted to the University of Theatre and Film Arts for the first try at the age of seventeen. I was attending the class of Gábor Zsámbéki and Sándor Zsótér, both of whom gave me a very strong foundation and a security that I can still rely on until this day. I have spent my year of internship in Debrecen, then at the Katona József Theatre in Budapest where I was hired the next year. I have worked there for five years, and then I joined the Hungarian National Theatre. I married Sándor Csányi, the man who is my love, my friend and my ally; he truly knows me and accepts me the way I am. Not long after our daughter was born, I became a freelancer so I could manage my time with more flexibility. Currently, I am a member of the Örkény Theatre. In 2017, Variety magazine has listed me as one of the “10 Europeans to Watch” in the film industry, while our movie ‘On Body and Soul’ was awarded the Golden Bear at the 2017 Berlinale.