Adrienne Darvay Nagy: AFTER HAMLET: Zoltán Balázs as Richard III
Former ’Hungarian Prince of the Millennium’ Now Leads a Historical ’Rag-Ham Play’ at Budapest.
The internationally wellknown Hungarian actor and stage director Balázs Zoltán (Zoltan Balazs) was one of the most interesting ’Hamlet’ at the Millennium. But not only ’one’, he himself was altogether sixty-eight different Hamlets between 2005 and 2007 due to Tim Carroll’s conception at Budapest. It is not a mistake, actually the title-role played by Zoltán Balázs remained the only unchanged element in that special HAMLET performance which was directed by the former Artistic Director of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, Certainly, besides the text translated in 1867, into Hungarian language by János Arany whose 200th birthday has been celebrated this year, even by BBC as well. All another roles were played random, chosen by spectators before the start of actual performance; and the whole event depends interactively on the current public, not only by their reactions, but also by props, music added by them, as well as their seats chosen by spectators themselves. All the evenings with Hamlet meant in the same time a new premiere indeed.
For Hungarian generations of the 21st century, Zoltán Balázs has become ”The Hamlet”.
That’s why several fans wanted to go much more than once, to see him and his various interpretations of the Danish Prince(s), really every time absolutely different one from another but always contemporary. We can safely say that legendary ’Hamlet Balázs Zoltán’ has become even an idol for a lot of young and matured theatre-lovers, shaping their vision of Shakespeare, and of the stage as well. On the 14th of July, 2006, this amazing HAMLET was played at the 2nd edition of the "Shakespeare Festival – Gyula” which was founded and led by József Gedeon (1956-2016). Just 11 years later, on the same day of July,14 when former Hamlet became 40 (11 days before), Zoltan Balazs played Richard III in that very place of Castle in Gyula, with the same great success. But this time the tragedy written by Shakespeare and translated also in 1867, now by Ede Szigligeti (an important playwright of 19th century), was directed by the outstanding Hungarian theatre artist Sándor Zsótér who works very often with Balázs Zoltán's theatre company, as well as his permanent team: Mária Benedek (costume) Mária Ambrus (set designer) and Júlia Ungár (dramaturg). The quite Postmodern Shakespearean music was composed by Pál Péter Szűcs participating in production as „Richard's page” too, and all another roles are played by the "King”s Men”. So, besides Zoltán Balázs, the Artistic and General Director of the ’Maladype Theatre’ starring Zsigmond Bödők, Balázs Fila, Zoltán Friedenthal, Kata Huszárik, József Kádas, Sándor Márkus, Márton Pallag, Ágota Szilágyi, Erika Tankó.
According to their homepage, Maladype Theatre founded in 2001, is an internationally known independent theatre company based in Budapest. The Maladype has received numerous awards, and toured both nationally and internationally (including countries like India, Iran and the US). Maladype Theatre does not win regular governmental funds, it maintains itself exclusively from grant programs. Maladype’s autonomy is not only financial, it is the foundation of its creative independence. It allows the company an artistic freedom that resonates throughout their work. Anyway, their philosophy is ’Risk and Reward”. Playfulness, acting and reacting is the essential part of Maladype Theatre. Its theatrical method is structured around two main principles. The first principle is the continuous development and conditioning (both physically and mentally) of its actors. Secondly, their approach focuses on an intensive and continuous relationship between the artist and audience allowing open communication. The so called ’Maladype Base’ is the company’s own theatre space in an apartment, a simple flat on the first floor of a dwelling house in the 8th district, which serves as a rehearsal room and performing place suitable for seating at least 50 people. For Maladype fans the Base is an intellectual and spiritual island, a real forum for interchanging opinions, to shape the taste, and develope identity. It is always full with young people, sometimes even with teens, but all generations are represented here together.
On the other hand ’Maladype Base’ means a creative space as well.
Like the Globe Theatre where (similar to former morality plays) Heaven – Earth – Hell (with a trap-door) as the Macrocosm gave background for the microcosm of players & spectators’ community, proving that ’Totus mundus agit histrionem...’ or in English: ’All the World's a Stage’. So the whole universe were able to be considered as playground for William Shakespeare to create such great roles like Hamlet or Richard III, mostly for Mr. Richard Burbage. Anyway, home is also a kind of ’imago mundi’, an ’Image of the World”. At the Maladype Base the whole apartment turns actually into a children playground during the performance of the tragedy of RICHARD III. Like in our childhood when we wanted to perform a story or even more simulate the adult's life, we had a very similar microcosm together with the guests watching on our play. The Maladype company does just the same. Their costumes are fake, but used seriously like the kids. Like talented hams. Rags and rugs, blankets fixed with pins, clips, sometimes with ’safety pins’. Which aren’t too safe... The props are also toys: painted wood-swords, little dinosaurs, blowing soap bubbles.
Perhaps it is very similar to Jacques Lacan's concept in the psychoanalytic theory called "Mirror Stage", due even to Hamlet as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image of the Power, sometimes of the future dictatorship; "and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure" just now and ever
Of course, histrionic and history – both have the same origin...
I would like to draw the theatre directors’ and Shakespeare Festivals' attention up all over the world that it merits to invite
RICHARD III played by the Maladype Theatre of Budapest, directed by Sándor Zsótér, with Zoltán Balázs in the title-role of Richard, the Third.
Playful, thrilling, amazing.
You will certainly like it.
Adrienne Darvay Nagy, 2017