I am not a sitting type - Interview with Zoltán Balázs / 2008

Zoltán Balázs, actor and director, together with the Maladype theater leaves the Bárka. He directs a performance at the National Theatre, one in France, and he spends the rest of his time with the Maladype Company.

- You’ve always directed ritual-like, for me often too exacting performances. The Mikado, directed at the Academy of Drama and Film, proved that you have elementary humor. Where were you hiding this so far?

- I worked in other genres. In the case of The Mikado, which is an operetta-opera, it would have been nonsense to force a fake seriousness on the piece. I was given a puppet and opera class, whose members I taught, and I thought it would be nice if they met. From this, this special performance was born, which is highly appreciated by the audience, and also received several international invitations. There are three of them who play one role, a puppet actor, an opera singer, and the puppet itself, so there are plenty of opportunities for grotesque.

- The Storm premiered at Bárka seems to be a bit closer to the realistic approach, which we are not accustomed to seeing from you.

- I’d rather say, that the piece is more story-centered than the ones I’ve directed so far. I thought it would be good if I did this too because a lot of people thought I could only direct very weird, ritual-like performances without a story. But it’s good if a director works with different genres. Although the basic idea of Leonce and Lena comes from The Mikado.

- Aside from the fact that both are fairytales, I don’t see too many similarities. What do the two pieces and productions have to do with each other?

- Playfulness, the freedom of imagination. And also that the performance is essentially composed of etudes. Büchner wrote Leonce and Lena in 25 scenes. There have already been many efforts from directors, playwrights to unite the fragmentary drama into a single performance. I, on the other hand, treat each scene independently, as single etudes. The Maladype Theatre’s company has eight members, four boys, and four girls, and they will do the whole play, namely by trying out all scenes in four variations, i.e. a total of a hundred scenes will be ready for the premiere. And the actors will apply in front of the audience for each scene, with the help of special concentration exercises. This is how we will find out who and with whom is going to play the twenty-five scenes. This requires great attention and preparedness. So, you basically will never watch the same performance.

- In general, I felt that the overall performance of the Maladype company was good, but the individual nuances of the acting and the unfolding of the personalities are absent. Do you want to develop the individuality of the actors with this method?

- I specifically rely on their personality and creativity to bring the performance to life. The basic concept of each scene comes from the actors, we work based on their ideas during the rehearsals.

- Are you still playing at the Bárka?

- The Seagull will probably be on next year’s repertoire, so I will keep Treplyov’s role. But Maladype will be the most important thing for me in the next season, I won’t take on too much work besides that. I am directing The Vampires opera in France and The Duchess of Malfi at the National Theatre. I dedicate the rest of my time to Maladype.

- You’ve had quite a few lead roles lately...

- I played a lot at Bárka, where I was a member. But now I’ll leave from there.

- Why?

- Because I’ve been there for three years. I can’t stay that much in one place. I am not a sitting type, it’s been a lot of time already. Primarily I stayed because of Maladype, to have a place where we could work in relatively normal conditions.

- Don’t you get bored of Maladype on that basis?

- Oh, no.

- Why is it so important to you?

- Because it is made up of free people who do not work because they are forced to, or to get luxury payments, or compulsively. They are capable of any kind of madness just to put themselves to the test, to develop and improve.

- I’ve heard that Maladype is also leaving the Bárka.

- Yes, we are leaving together, and so we are abolishing all our structural backgrounds. The goal for the next season is to be able to play in as many places and as many different ways as possible. We will do Bolero together with the Nitra Festival, Woyzeck in the direction of an Italian director, and at the end of the season, Sándor Zsóter will also direct for us.

- Do you want a similar structure as the Krétakör Theater has?

- Yes. We play in many places, and in the meantime, we will not only have premiers but also training and tours.

Gábor Bóta, Pesti Műsor, 2008

Translation by Brigitta Erőss