About This Issue
TESZT THEATER FESTIVAL
TIMISOARA, ROMANIA: MAY 22-29, 2016
REPORTER: SUSAN STROUPE
THE JOURNEY OF IDENTITIES
Travelling to and back from the 9th Euroregional Theater Festival Timisoara (TESZT) is already a multicultural experience: a group of Hungarian, Hungarian-Romanian, Portuguese and American professionals are picked up/dropped off in Budapest by the Romanian driver of the Hungarian State Theater of Timisoara, before and after attending an international theater festival in Romania. Just as the idea of CITD’s DISPATCHES to attend this regional platform was born in one of Budapest's Kosher restaurants, where Zoltán Gálovits (Artistic Director of TESZT) and Philip Arnoult met for the first time.
He presented then the concept of crossing these invisible, yet politically sustained borders to bring together a carefully curated program through which a ‘theater meeting’ can take place. Our partnership was immediately without question, hence CITD’s long term commitment to reporting about theaters and their makers who are not ‘the usual suspects’, and facilitating meetings between individuals in the hope of future collaborations. The possibility of opening a dialogue between the Balkan region and the USA through DISPATCHES was clear.
So we are honored to present you these reports of 9 performances, written by Susan Stroupe, which took us on a journey of identities during the 10 days of the festival. Because attending TESZT means that you are a professional and a simple audience member at the same time; you simultaneously witness as part of a community and as an individual; you become familiar with every artist who performs, since they are welcome to stay throughout the ‘meeting’ and every post show discussion is turned into a friendly gathering. We attended a program which was put together with precise dramaturgy: first introducing us to this region and its themes with care and confidence, then making us question our national, social, cultural and other constructed identities and letting us go at the end with a great hug that assured everyone that we are always welcome back.
ABOUT OUR REPORTER
Susan Stroupe is a Baltimore-based theater artist. She works as a director, performer, and teacher in Baltimore. She has worked with Philip Arnoult and the Center for International Theater Development for several years, traveling many times to Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Most recent work includes as director for Peter Pan with All-Us-Express Children’s Theatre in Michigan, co-director/creator of The Mesmeric Revelations! Of Edgar Allan Poe with SubMersive Productions, a devised, immersive performance that had for two sold-out runs at the historic Pratt House at the Maryland Historical Society, and as director for the regional premiere of Harry and the Thief by acclaimed playwright Sigrid Gilmer with Strand Theater Company in Baltimore. Recent teaching work includes devised work with young actors at the Telluride Playwrights’ Festival and with Baltimore City’s Monarch Academy, and as a resident artist teacher for Center Stage’s Young Playwrights’ Festival. Past work includes as a theater and writing teacher of adults with development disabilities and part of the experimental ensemble In Strange Company at VSA Arts of New Mexico; as a touring puppeteer for Das Puppenspiel Puppet Company, in the development of Lee Breuer’s opus La Divina Caricatura, as puppetry director for Shrek the Musical, by PLAY Conservatory in Albuquerque, and as an actor in dozens of shows including The Laramie Project, The Tempest, Africa, Aloha Say the Pretty Girls, The Oresteia: Live!, 365 Days/365 Plays, The Vagina Monologues, Undesirable Elements (Albuquerque), Vodka, fucking, and Television, Martial Arts (as part of Towson University’s New Russian Drama Season), and Thr3e Zisters, an adapation of Three Sisters directed by Yury Urnov. She has work with Ping Chong and Co. (NYC), Mabou Mines (NYC), Cornerstone Theater (LA), Pillsbury House Theatre (MSP), and Horizon Theatre (ATL), among many others. As a writer she has worked in ensemble writing and devising, often for non-traditional spaces. She holds a BA from Macalester College and an MFA in Theatre Arts from Towson University.
An Essay by Michael Dove
I had the pleasure of traveling to Romania this past May to attend the TESZT Festival (Euroregional Theatre Festival Timișoara). My first time in Eastern Europe, I can say without hyperbole that this experience will forever change my work as a theatre maker. A real catalyst for growth, I feel.
The trip came at the perfect time for me in my artistic life.
As a director and curator in America who is focused on political and socially-conscious work, these last few years have been difficult. In just a short amount of time, the political discourse in the States has become so polarized and calcified and at such a rapid rate that I’ve struggled to find a nuanced voice in the midst of it all. On the precipice of what should seem to be a glorious new dawn—one of extraordinary diversity, technological achievement, historical knowledge, and ever-faster change, people fight people over distinctions so fine as to be incomprehensible from one place to another, technology proliferates without the necessary wisdom to use it wisely, connections seem harder, dysfunction and disconnection in myriad forms seem the order of the day.
In the United States, amidst a plethora of impersonal, digital, agreeable inputs, we need more than ever an outlet for connection, for substance, for the tools to understand the points of view of the growing diversity of voices that surrounds each of us.
But an increasing frustration has plagued me: that American theatre has not responded to these times, furthering its decline in relevance in contemporary society.
An Interview With Zoltán Gálovits
Interviewed by Susan Stroupe
Note- audio may not play in some browsers
Part 1 - Teszt Origins Part 2 - Importance of a Regional Festival
Part 3 - New Realities Part 4 - The Realities of
and Communities Festival Organization
A Note From Philip
The TESZT 2016 Euroregional Theatre Festival in Timisoara, Romania was, by all accounts, an important event—and some months after the festival, Timisoara won the prized European Cultural Capital designation for 2021.
My old friend, Chris Torch, was just appointed director of the Timisoara 2021. Chris, an American who I first met when he was working with the Living Theatre, settled in Sweden and founded the theatre Jordcirkus (he brought his company to the Theatre of Nations Festival in Baltimore in 1986), and later the activist Swedish cultural organization INTERCULT. I expect Chris will be looking not at a 2021 event, but rather a four-year run-up to a 2021 celebration. Timisoara will definitely be on our collective radar.
It was also good to work again with Susan Stroupe, our reporter for this issue. Susan has been making a series of immersive works in Baltimore over the last few years, as well as playing an important role in the healthy Baltimore DIY scene.
Michael Dove, the artistic director of the Forum Theatre in DC, along with CITD 2016 Fellow Zenkö Bogdán offer unique and incisive reflections on this important event.
Look for upcoming editions of DISPATCHES coming to you with some regularity.
founder & director
By Susan Stroupe
The TESZT Euroregional Festival was different than other theater festivals I’ve attended in this part of the world for two major regions: it was “regional” rather “international,” meaning the performances hailed almost exclusively from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, along with a few Mediterranean participants. Secondly, there was a successfully “curated” feel to the both the choice of performances and the order they were in. My dramaturgical brain was extremely happy to sense that Festival Director Attila Balázs and Artistic Coordinator Zoltán Gálovits were sculpting their festival with the questions “why this play at this time for this audience?”
The shows were diverse in their approach, their traditions, and their styles, but each was asking questions related to the primary themes of the festival: complicity, revolution, identity, community, sacrifice, and democracy. Each piece connected to strands of others but also introduced new viewpoints, making the festival as a whole feel like one complete, complicated picture.
Nineteen shows were presented in the festival, and what we have chosen to present on this website do not represent the only shows of value (for instance Csaba Horváth’s tremendous piece Your Kingdom), but shows that impressively represented the trends in theater we are seeing internationally: audience engagement, new styles of directing (collaborative rather than authoritarian processes), women’s voices, and LGBT voices, all in the hands generations of artists that are now gaining influential positions in their country’s cultural community.
Outside of the performances, the “audience engagement” aspects of the festival were superb, despite the new enforcement of the smoking ban law (a law passed several years ago but only enforced in March) causing audience traffic to significantly change for post-show community building. Under the direction of Promotional Materials and Translation Coordinator Panna Adoráni, the lobby of the Csiky Gergely was coupled with a dynamic, visually arresting, comprehensive festival book that created multiple types of audience engagement at all times outside of performance. These factors may seem less important than the shows themselves, but having had endless conversations with colleagues about lobby engagement and the dramaturgical use of theater programs, the staff in this department clearly understood both their audience and the types of tools they could use to engage them, and in a time when human connection is at utmost importance, truly caring about the voice of the audience beyond the doors of the theater was a noteworthy part of TESZT.
In the end, the festival was a huge success, and not just for the usual reason of great work being presented. Artistic Coordinator Gálovits, in an interview (excerpts of which are available on this site), spoke of his passion to create a festival that would have a high artistic standard but feel very intimate and informal. He definitely achieved this goal, and for me the implications are great: we in the theater world are in danger of falling into the trap that a glossy façade equals a quality experience, and I think the TESZT Festival proves that the younger generation, both producers and performers, are much more interested in the human connection that theater produces than how formal its presentation is.
The Trust for Mutual Understanding
The Trust for Mutual Understanding, a long-time supporter of CITD, is a unique and important player in Russia and Eastern Europe. Set up as a trust by a single anonymous donor in 1984, the focus was “to support direct person-to-person contact between American and Soviet professionals working in the field of art and environment.” A second gift was made in 1991, continuing the dual focus of art and environment, and opening up to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe; the Baltic States; Central Asia; Mongolia; and Russia.
CITD and Susan Stroupe would also like to thank the following individuals for their indispensable support: Zoltán Gálovits, Panna Adorjáni, Zsófia Szerda, László Upor, Kata Bodoki-Halmen, Örs Székely, and Zsolt Bodoki-Halmen.
Zoltan Galovits (b.:1981, Odorheiu-Secuiesc, Romania) Theatrologue, journalist, artistic consultant of the “Csiky Gergely” Hungarian State Theatre of Timișoara and artistic coordinator of the Euroregional Theatre Festival Timișoara (TESZT). Studied at the “Ady Endre” College of Journalism (Oradea), 2000, Babeș-Bolyai University, Faculty of Philology, Theater Studies (Cluj Napoca), 2004. As journalist, Zoltan was editor at the daily newspaper „Reggeli Újság” Oradea, coordinating the work of the culture column and writing interviews, reportage about artistic events of the city. As theatrologue, Zoltan made adaptations of different texts and was collaborating as dramaturgist and assistant with directors in a few performances. Till 2013, Zoltan was the deputy artistic director of the “Csiky Gergely” Hungarian State Theatre.
By Zenkő Bogdán
Image by Zoltan Szarka
THE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL THEATRE DEVELOPMENT
Philip Arnoult, founder & director
Volume I, Issue 2