Every single event is different - Interview with Zoltán Balázs / 2009

Zoltán Balázs wanted to be a clown. He ran away from home as a child because he wanted to go with a traveling circus. He was captivated by the medium of the circus, the magical world of acrobats and clowns. He later fell in love with Fellini's films. He became Inspired by the theatrical world of Tadeusz Kantor and Pina Bausch. He wanted to do theater “here and now”. He studied acting and directing at the Budapest University of Theater and Film Arts. Abroad, his masters were Robert Wilson and Anatoly Vasilyev. The young, sympathetic Hungarian director, who founded the Maladype Theater seven years ago, visited Zlín with his company yesterday and presented himself in the program of the “Meetings” festival with his performance entitled Egg(s)Hell, which was rewarded with long standing, ferocious applause from the audience.

- How satisfied were you with yesterday's performance?

- The audience was very inspiring. They were open to the game, got the cards offered by the actors. Our performance is not intended to provoke collaboration from viewers at all costs. Rather, we want to make the connection between the performers and the recipients go unnoticed throughout the game.

- To what extent was this nonverbal encounter with the Zlín audience different than at your home in Hungary?

- Each time is different. The Hungarian audience is playful, open to direct communication, but the real challenge for our company is to introduce ourselves in a foreign environment. The audience in Zlín was a great partner. They reacted very sensitively to the playful intentions of our actors and accurately interpreted the grotesque humor and small exaggerations of the performance. The acting ensemble, which presents variations in the relationship between men and women, was also received with due irony. In short, we had a “cool” audience.

- In the program booklet, I read, “Egg(s)Hell is a text-free performance based on music, movement, and game that works with improvisational methods...” How improvisational is their performance? What did they learn in advance? What doesn’t change and what changes in every performance? What is improvisation based on? For example, I would be interested to know if the actors know what music they are getting. Is the topic, the structure, predefined?

- The performance has been based on improvisational games since the beginning of the rehearsals. At the same time, players are given a stable frame. The rules of the game, which the actors have mastered during rehearsals, have also been recorded and are being further developed from performance to performance. They need to be very disciplined and very attentive. They have to be physically and mentally prepared for the unexpected situations given by the improvisational game every time. I could compare their role in Egg(s)Hell to a rope-skipping game. Like children, they need to learn everything about “ rope-jumping” first. It is up to them how their acquired knowledge will be used and further developed in the future. The actors in the performance represent occasional variations of their own everyday stories. With their acting, they provoke and encourage each other. Eight actors, eight stories, endless variations. The player here cannot reproduce everything he has learned in advance, he is “forced” to adapt, to give the momentary “fragile” essence of his personality. Answering his question: the actors don’t know in advance what kind of music selection will be organizing their game that night. There are also only three supplies available: an egg, a cigarette and a chair. And of course the costumes.

- I know that the Egg(s)Hell was inspired by a poem by a Hungarian poet, Sándor Weöres. Would you tell it?

- It is easy to recite, more difficult to interpret. It’s a one-line poem, so this haiku-like poem isn’t easy to translate. The poet plays with the word "eggshell", and if we omit a consonant from this word in Hungarian, another word is formed, which already means "night". Weöres plays with the metaphors of these words. The poem, which deals with the complex possibilities of association, is mostly about the constant change of life, the fragility of human relations.

- Why did you choose the improvisation method? Why are you so interested?

- I consider improvisation to be one of the cornerstones of my directorial work, and our meeting was necessary for my creative strategy. Risk-taking, the search for new impulses, is not strange from my personality. I consider loose concentration, physical, mental and spiritual readiness important. Even in the circus. I think every good theater has to take risks.

- Are the members of the company actors and dancers, or just actors?

- "Only" actors.

- Jaroslav Dušek is the best known improvisation artist in the Czech Republic. He is a student of the renowned teacher, psychologist and actor Ivan Vyskočil, who teaches so-called “Dialogue Behavior” at the Prague Academy. Have you heard of Jaroslav Dušek? Did you see any of his performances?

- I know the name of Jaroslav Dušek, I heard about it, but unfortunately I haven't seen his performances yet. I hope to have a chance. I would also like to know more about the theater called “Farm in the Cave” because their leader, Viliam Dočolomanský, his ideas about theater seems very interesting to me.

Hana Galetková, Zlínsky dennik, 2009

Translation by Zsuzsanna Juraszek