Júlia Király is best known for being the Vice President of the Hungarian National Bank, which position was hold by her between 2007 and 2013. Besides she is a great admirer and patron of theatre, mainly of the independents. She has an especially close relationship with Maladype Theatre, where she is not just a member of the audience, but a friend of the company.
Although your family isn’t far from literature and theatre – your father was a literary historian – you as the former Vice President of the HNB are rather linked to economy. How come you got closer to independent theatres?
Probably Ferenc Karvalits – the other Vice President – and me were an odd couple, because Feri knows modern Hungarian literature even better than me and he is a recognized art collector and a music expert, too. Theatre was the only thing more important to me, but I was lucky to grow up in a family where sometimes Péter Molnár Gál took me to the premieres. After the regime change I rarely had the chance to go to theatre for a decade, but not because of the social changes, but for my little son who I didn’t want to leave alone. In the 2000s many new theatres were founded besides the old ones – Katona, Radnóti, Örkény (where I’m still a constant audience member), and the independent theatres’ work was much more emphasized in critiques and they appeared on festivals more often. The breakthrough for me was Krétakör, I liked Árpád Schilling’s directions very much. Then came Bárka Színház with Róbert Alföldi and Kornél Mundruczó’s The Frankenstein Plan. I did not remember when, but one of my students, Milán Gauder took me to Béla Pintér’s theatre and so far I’ve seen all of their performances. One of Viktor Bodó’s directions inspired me to attend Szputnyik Theatre, and on the National Theatre Festival Pécs I saw Maladype’s Ubu King – I remember well because it was 40 degrees in the room. When the next season started I watched all the performances directed by Zoltán Balázs. I have to admit that for me Sándor Zsótér is the best Hungarian director, I would follow him everywhere, and he works with Maladype a lot.
Meanwhile you have become one of their main supporters. As the protectress of „The Hundred Supporters’ Project” you made a lot for getting new sponsors from the businness side. What do you think about patronage in Hungary? How does it work?
As Vice President of HNB we made a good living – everyone knew it. I offered 1 million Ft for a theatre performance each year on the Summa Artium gala, and later the same amount for Maladype’s Figaro, independently of the gala. By that time I was a constant audience member in Maladype and we were talking with Zoli about new forms of patronage. We had a few ideas some of which turned out to be successful, but the others didn’t. Altogether „The Hundred Supporters’ Project” was a successful campaign, but not as much as we had expected in the beginning. In Hungary it’s not easy to find patrons for „smaller aims”. The obvious advantage of independent theatres is that they can live on small money, but this is the drawback at the same time: for the patrons who prefer bigger aims these remain invisible. It’s hard to find those well-to-do, provincialist people who are committed to creative, independent theatres.
Why did you choose Maladype to take under your wings? What is the main difference between Maladype and the other theatres?
My relation with Maladype is very close, but not exclusive. The main reason is Zoli and the company – we became friends as time went by.
You were the major sponsor of Master and Margarita, coproduction of Radu Stanca National Theatre Sibiu and Maladype Theatre, nominated for five awards by UNITER (Theatre Union of Romania). Did you fall in love with the project?
This was all about Master and Margarita and Zoltán Balázs. It was for sure that the performance would be something extraordinary. And I was right. I saw both versions and I have to admit, Master and Margarita is a thrillful, distracted performance. We were quarreling with Zoltán all the way back home after Sibfest about the necessity or superfluity of some scenes, about the mood and harmony of particular settings. I'm not the kind of viewer who takes in everything, but I believe the only performances we can argue about are those which represent „pure theatre”. You see many performances during your life, and you forget them. They are okay, but nothing else. In case of a brilliant performance, some scenes, feelings will stay in your memory for decades.
The idea of freedom is an important feature of Maladype's performances and everyday work. Can you see any similarities in your life?
I was caught by this idea long ago while watching Árpád Schilling's work in Krétakör. This is a characteristic of many independent theaters: they are not afraid of thinking differently, not afraid of choosing freedom. For me the freedom of questioning and thinking is an essential part of life.
On the whole what do you think about the present situation of independent theatres and what will their future be like?
The foundation of MU Theatre and Jurányi indicated significant progress. To have an own place to perform was very important for theatres like Maladype. There hasn't been any governments so far which could have done away with the independents or could have „domesticated” them. And there will never be. On the other hand there is the everyday struggle, the constant uncertainty that is sometimes too much for them to bear. It would be a great leap forward if a patron – even half-governmental – could finance a festival for alternative theatres like Zuricher Kantonbank does in Switzerland, which has rescued the independents from ceasing.
As far as I know you love riding the bike. Do you go to theatre by bike?
Of course. I change to public transport only if it's really cold, or in case of a heavy rain.