The freedom of long-term work - interview with Zoltán Balázs

It is often said by the audience and theatrical scene that there are only a few truly talented actors and directors amongst young people. My conversation partner, Zoltán Balázs, member of the Bárka Theater, is a refreshing exception, as he makes his mark through his creations on both fields. Work matters.

You graduated from college, acting department. Where did you go after the diploma?

I was just a “rookie” actor at Radnóti (Timon of Athens) and Szolnok (Les Enfants Terribles, A view from the bridge) when János Csányi, the executive of the Bárka Theater at that time, made me an offer, which for a young actor-director meant the freedom of long-term work.

You are performing and directing at the same time. Is this shift-work a problem?

Somehow, in college, I got mixed up with different tasks and I had a lot of fun with my bipolar lifestyle. If they weren’t in balance, they would not provoke or excite each other, and I would not be able to express myself as Hamlet, Captain Macheath or as the director Empedocles, and it would be impossible to run a company of ten actors.

You have founded a successful team under the name Maladype. How did you start it? Does this company have a future or will it merge with the Bárka?

Without bypassing the answer (about the founding), the curiosity of the actors towards each other and towards me has created and kept alive this developing company ever since. There is no mention of assimilation, but rather a community with parallel, independent, and different ways of seeking, so no one has to give up their needs, taste and plans. So important the Maladypes’ fate is that this year we have been able to provide our actors constant training (movement, vocals and speech) so that the stolen times and the overflowing energy of the rehearsals could be replaced by this constantly changing coexistence. This is what we’ve agreed on with Róbert Alföldi, and after a year we will draw the conclusions and lessons and we will rethink the possibility of working together.

Last season you stepped forward with a completely different Hamlet in the direction of Tim Carroll.

There is rarely such an opportunity in an actor’s life with such a role, with such director, with such a concept, so it’s one of the greatest gifts- if not the greatest- that I could ever get. I’m happy to perform it and that it is still on the repertoire after ten performances, compared to other Hamlet performances, and not to mention, we’re now starting the second season.

The Beggar’s Opera –which is a real curiosity- had/will have a premiere at three different times. How much did the performance change since the premiere?

The production was born at the intersection of a strange line of forces (end of a season, change of the executive, the Gyula coproduction) therefore it could not confirm itself. This official premiere will be quite different from early June one. The experiences accumulated at the end of the season and in Gyula will surely had and have shaped the final image of the piece.

I know you don’t like the subject, but it’s inevitable. You got a lot of honors last season. Does this matter to you or your work is more important?

Of course, it is important, but no one will be more talented with the prizes. So we are left with the works.

What are the tasks ahead of you this season?

In the 2006/2007 season, besides being in Hamlet and The Beggar’s Opera, I mainly accepted to direct: Gilbert and Sullivan’s: The Mikado-University of Arts; Rostand: The Eagle -Debrecen; Kleist: Katie of Heilbronn-Bárka. The most exciting is the Wyspianski piece for Maladype, Acropolis, which we co-direct with Sándor Zsótér.

Tamás Gaál, Súgó
Translation by Brigitta Erőss