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Hamlet in Budapest
Notes on the 11 November 2008 Hamlet performed in the Józsefváros ‘Kesztyűgyár’ by Bárka and The Factory
‘The Hungarian actor escapes to hypocritical tricks, while the English actor seeks real solutions’ – this could be a brief summary of Hungary’s number one theatre critic Tamás Koltai’s opinion, which he has expressed during the talk organised after the first Hamlet. Although generalising and therefore unjust, this presumption indeed contained a basically valid idea; owing to the excitement of the first encounter, the gratefulness of an audience open to jokes, and the fact that the Bárka actors had to mine out the forgotten text after two years and, they held on to easy solutions…
The question is whether the director hears the valid idea from the invalid summary. TC heard it. ‘Anything but tricks’ – that was all he said before the second performance. And this, together with the gut sensitivity and sense of proportion of the good actor were enough for real encounters to happen between actor and actor, actor and spectator in Kesztyűgyár. It was a nice, serious, uplifting night. A few examples:
- The teddy: The Ghost appeared in the form of a teddy bear, ‘flew’ from one spectator’s shoulder to the other’s, then he made it into Hamlet’s (Alex) hands, who established a dialogue with him. Hamlet loosened the little scarf around the teddy’s neck and made a spectator fasten it around his wrist; from this point on, the patrimony, the duty shaping his destiny remained with him for all his life. When the story of the conflict between Old Hamlet and Old Fortinbras was told, another puppet wearing a red hat came into view, and that red hat appeared later twice: on the head of young Fortinbras marching through, and, in the same way, when Fortinbras (the one conquering the country and putting an end to the tragedy) was looking down at the corpses lying on each other from the upper window. The teddy, of course, returned as Ghost again and again, and then, at the funeral of Ophelia it seemed to be a good idea for Gertrude to place the puppet in the hands of the dead little girl, however, at the same time, it was an actor’s inconsistent gesture invalidating the previous role of the bear.
- Honey: maybe by chance, maybe consciously took Laertes the type of honey well-known here for its bear-shaped container in his hands – of course he arrives with it from France in act four.
- Polonius’ relation to his children: the relationship between the Hungarian Polonius (Cini) and the English children (Simon and Marianne) he had just got to know was so nice, serious, intimate and playful that it made me realise what I hadn’t understood while watching Hamlet countless times previously: why Ophelia kills herself. Among other things, precisely because of the death of her father – it is told, however, it just occurred to me during the comic but touching scene of Cini and Marianne, that the two people love each other with all heart.
- Dub: a frenetic directorial idea, superb realisation (we were watching the actors playing behind us in a ballet miror, while they were being dubbed by their invisible partners)
- Seating: another directorial idea of the same kind was making men and women (spectators) sit facing each other in act three. We have seen it in the theatre, however, it makes a difference in which act of which performance it happens. Here, it was absolutely at the right place (or the actors used the situation received as a ‘present’ perfectly).
- Prayer: the prayer of Claudius is impressive and uplifting, as the king accompanies himself on the drum; then the sound of a continuous and distinctly beautiful (and precisely measured) voice is heard from the outside.
- Gloves: a glove symbolising his father on Hamlet’s hand; its pair, Claudius, on his mother’s. A splendid solution reaching its climax when the gloves get back to Hamlet, who suddenly cannot tell the difference between them: a moment not invalidating the speech, but showing the subjectivity of man, the relativity of judgements.
László Bérczes, the organiser of the festival
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|gabodarvas||Hamlet and gloves||0||Nov 19 2008, 7:51 AM EST by gabodarvas|
Thread started: Nov 19 2008, 7:51 AM EST Watch
Originally I wouldn't have seen second night show but couldn't help walking to 'Kesztyűgyár' (literally 'Glove Factory' ) and curiously looking at the changes of play and its improvement according to first night. (Should have been at another place but didn't care at all...) Kind of surprised by my sudden decision, I aimed to hurry to the location, just had pulled my shabby gloves on before starting off in the waspy, late-autumn air. Later I offered those gloves to the play - possessed nothing else could have been used as a property.
Now still wearing the same old fingerless gloves everyday - and I am not wearing the same gloves any more. Looking at them on my hands, I couldn't distinguish one from the other and - having seen Alex-Hamlet's confusion that night - they will always remind me how relative our judgements can be, everything is how much a matter of perspective. Even those simple accessories - you gaze at them from a bit different angle and your horizon widens a lot. Going farther and further, just a little bit dissimilar standpoint of view on your life might be able to ruin many of the confines of regular worldly ways.
Can these auspicious effects of splendid theatrical moments remain for long? I really don't know. The art of 'here and now' is subject to destruction in every moment, actors and spectators have to divide from each other and continue (or restart) their lives at the next moment. Can anything remain?
Maybe in the form of a pair of gloves that's not a simple pair of gloves anymore? :)
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Keyword tags: budapest hamlet glove factory
|Federay||amazing and wonderful||0||Nov 18 2008, 5:31 PM EST by Federay|
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