A papnő

The Priestess

14, 15, 16/05 – 20:30
1h 30min

His adaptation of The Seagull was one of the highlights of the 2006 festival. Shortly afterwards, acknowledged Hungarian director Árpád Schilling bad farewell to the international circuit. He broadened the circle of participants and enriched the means of expression in his productions to give voice to the most relevant social issues. He has recently returned under the spotlight with Krízis-trilógia. Centred on three members of a broken family, the trilogy presents three attempts at “community”. The fascinating final part, A papnő ( The Priestess ), includes autobiographical references. Following the mother’s journey, we see experienced actress Lilla Gát leaving the theatres of Budapest to teach drama to young Hungarian and Roma children in the countryside. However, her unconventional and perhaps naive approach doesn’t get the reception she expected … The Priestess is as much a documentary film about a rural and divided region as it is a socio-educational experiment conducted on stage with teenagers. A disturbing theatrical adventure somewhere between reality and fiction, art and life.

Written & directed by
Árpád Schilling

Márton Gulyás

Assistant to the director
Juhász Bálint

Professional partner
Színházműhely Osonó/ Bernadett Daragics, Mihály Fazakas

Technical manager
András Éltető

Mihály Nemes

Péter Fancsikai, Máté Tóth Ridovics, Krisztián Pamuki

Lilla Sárosdi, Sándor Terhes, Lóránt Bartha, Kálmán Bíró, Márta Bajka, Sándor Bartha Levente, Emese Boldizsár, Annamária Daró, Jolán Dobondi, Kati Gábor Kinga, Kata Imre-Muntean Kikerics, Eszter Incze, Attila Komán, Janka Korodi, Erika Lukács, Erzsébet Maksai, Ágnes Márton, Mónika Tankó Tímea

Supported by
Trafo Kortárs Művészetek Háza/House of Contemporary Arts; Polgár András; Bojár Gábor; Magyarország Főkonzulátusa - Csíkszereda; NKA, NEFMI; Bethlen Gábor Alap

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater

Krétakör (Budapest)

Thanks to
Culturele Dienst van de Ambassade van Hongarije/Service culturel de l'Ambassade de Hongrie

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The Krízis-trilógia is first and foremost evidence of the fact that Krétakör is now, three years after the dissolution of the legendary Krétakör Theatre, working with a new approach and with a new team, a significant performance and arts and media workshop. Secondly, the Krízis-trilógia is a structural model in which various artistic and managerial objectives dovetail to conform with the intentions of the workshop membership and the project crew. Thirdly, the Krízis-trilógia is a talent development programme which brings together young people from several age groups to come into their own as creative collaborators. Fourthly, the Krízis-trilógia is a public forum that poses various questions affecting the next generation through art. Last but not least, the Krízis-trilógia is a self-confession that vents our personal fears, experiences, desires and convictions.

The whole story for the trilogy got going when Sodja Lotker, curator to the Prague Quadrennial (PQ) which is primarily known as a scenography exhibition, contacted me in August 2008 and requested that Krétakör realise an arts project as part of PQ 2011's "Intersection" section. I rashly said that the title would be "Jesus Project". The second nudge towards the trilogy came from Nikolaus Bachler, artistic director of the Munich-based Bavaria State Opera in 2010, when through the dramaturge Miron Hakenbeck he commissioned me to direct a musical project of my own choosing as part of the Munich Opera Festival in July 2011. The point of no return for the creation of the trilogy came when György Szabó, the director of Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, agreed to host the trilogy in Hungary.

Although this timeline would suggest that the screenplay to the film jp.co.de was the first instalment to materialise, in fact it was the script to The Priestess that I finished first. The odyssey of a former actress turned drama educator moving to the country from Budapest seemed like a very interesting theme for a contemporary parable. I felt that the duality that grips Hungary and, I think, Europe at large in the form of social tensions could be grasped and articulated through a recounting of her fate. The tension I am referring to is between unquestionably good-natured indulgence that is unable to produce any results on the one hand and regulation that is, while maximally efficient, somewhat deficient in its humanity: the tension between the naivety of unconditional trust and that of prejudice that stems from experience.

When this woman appeared, we started toying with the idea of giving her a family. A professionally uncompromising and almost zealous psychologist husband and a son looking for his place in life and trying to build a community around himself. We wanted to present the family as a multifaceted problem: an artificial grouping in which everything and everyone, even the desires and intentions of its constituent members, is fixed. We wanted to show the family after its explosion and invite the audience to re-combine the elements of the artificial construct for themselves, to give us a detailed account of how they see this microscopic community. Our creative collaboration agreed that the family is the smallest, yet most important unit of society. This was precisely why we all hoped that by studying this sample unit, some details might emerge that highlight the dysfunctionality of the larger whole. One of our most disconcerting discoveries was that even though the family is an artificial community, it defies a purely methodological description. There is something at the heart of each community that eludes pure reason. This is what we decided to call very simply its ‘soul', and concluded that it is missing from our society at the macro level as well.

Árpád Schilling, artistic director Krétakör & director of the Krízis-trilógia

The Priestess is a product of a very diverse, ideologically very heterogeneous creative crew. The significance of this is that the players in this performance also seek answers to the questions haunting them from a multitude of ideological stances. One of the main goals during the rehearsal process was precisely to prevent the different beliefs of the crew and the players from cancelling each other out and to be integrated into a coherent whole instead. We sought to develop a system for the performance in which, on the one hand, we share a common ground while leaving the stage open to the individual outlooks of each and every one of us. Put another way, our goal was to create a polyphonic performance, one in which harmony grows out of the parallel voices of differing worldviews.
The performance was made during three camps, in the days and weeks of living side by side. Grown-ups and children; pious and religiously non-aligned people; people coming from families and those coming from homes; ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania, ethnic Roma living in Transylvania and ethnic Hungarians living in Hungary; personal liberty-based as well as authoritarian educators; young adults and teenage students testing their limits, all part of the same creative community. We made a particular point of being open-minded and patient during the preparation phase when our differences in viewing the world came to the fore in the most banal of situations. The beauty of our co-operation was that each crewmember was also given his or her personalised job within the creative process as well. These functions limited everyone's scope of responsibilities on the one hand while authorising each of us to act as they see fit within those limits on the other. This was how the multitude of attitudes and approaches all fit together in a constructive system. Compromise is usually discouraged between differences in outlooks on life, mainly because of the claim to absolute righteousness each demands for itself. Theatre, however, lets us speak our minds about our conflicts even while keeping them at arm's length, and make any negotiation about them subject to the shared goal we were all striving towards.
We consider the creators of this performance to be representatives of their own communities, addressing the audience and speaking for everyone with whom they share their social status. Actors and theatre professionals can only conjure up personalities through their imagination, a person from a real-life social milieu embodies his or her lot with his or her very being and authentically represents the whole community he or she comes from. For the child performers, the rehearsal process was not so much about the learning of a specific role as the release of energies inside them that help them cross over between reality and fiction and agree, with a conscious, though playful ease, to represent something that directly concerns them in front of other people. This form of expression allows public issues to be dealt with through the focus of personal experience, but it will hopefully have a pedagogical effect on the performers - the experience that whatever is happening to me and my community may be publicly articulated develops my civic consciousness.

Bálint Juhász, assistant to the director, head of the Krétakör media library
Working on this project felt very different to what I was used to in theatre. It needed planning, knowing in advance what the game was about, why I was involved, and what I wanted to work out with the children. I wanted to reinforce our relationship from before so that we would not seem false together on stage. This whole journey is of course about a lot of things other than theatre - about the fact that I have a child of my own, for instance. How do I want to bring her up? My daughter is two and a half years old and I don't think I have used our time together very wisely. I know it sounds gushy, but no matter what, you always feel you have a sort of catching up to do. Time that you can never make up for has been lost. That is what all my friends keep telling me about whether I should put her in child care, if I could take on work while she's so little, all the usual decisions.
It was fascinating for me to see that the same decision about my objectives was much easier when it came to these other children: I wanted them to be more independent, and to make them aware of their own creativity and their strength. I wanted them to be able to stand on their own two feet and not be dependent on anyone. I miss them a lot.
I do hope that whatever they came to realise during the project, they would be able to use in their everyday lives. The Priestess, for me, is all about experiencing humility. Drama in education is a tool to help us get closer to children. It gives them safe boundaries inside which they can accept and represent their own personalities. What makes it ‘drama' is that it gives children an opportunity to express themselves. The fact that I'm an actress made a world of difference when trying to encourage them during play. Self-expression is a sort of continuous presence in the moment, and it has become a part of my everyday life. Unfortunately, some people in my personal environment sometimes find its effect hard to bear, which is why, after more than a decade of acting, it was a liberating experience to be listening to someone through theatre as a medium. I wish the acting vocation was more responsible somehow; I wish my talent was not only for my own enhanced pleasure. It could be used to convey ideas and much, much more. Actors are not called on to convey their own thoughts and ideas most of the time, but there is no reason they couldn't be. If they have any to convey, that is. I for one have an idea right now that I would need to express as an actor.
Lilla Sárosdi, in the lead role, actress

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Árpád Schilling (b. 1974) is a theatre director and also the artistic director of Krétakör. He began staging productions at the age of 19 and set up the Krétakör Theatre in 1995, the same year in which he started his directing studies at the Theatre and Film Academy in Budapest. He continued to run Krétakör in parallel with his studies, but from 1998 to 2000 was invited by the director Gábor Zsámbéki to be guest director at the world famous Katona József Theatre. He staged Platonov by Chekhov in 1999 with students from the Théâtre National de Strasbourg, performing the play at the European Theatre Union festival. Also that year he won the Hungarian theatre critics’ prize in the “up-and-coming professional” category, among other things for his production of István Tasnádi’s Public Enemy at the Katona József Theatre. After rejecting several offers to join institutional theatres, along with cultural manager Máté Gáspár he turned the Krétakör Theatre into a permanent theatre company. The show most emblematic of their work is Chekhov’s The Seagull which premiered in 2003.

In 2008, Árpád Schilling restructured his creative team, moving from a repertory system to project-based work. He also dropped ‘theatre’ from their name, retaining just the word Krétakör. He embarked on large-scale artistic experimentation, focusing on education, social development and nurturing talent. From 2008 to 2011 he worked as artistic director on several cultural and teaching programmes both in Hungary and abroad, going into schools, small communes and outlying communities in difficulty. He was guest teacher in 2006 at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique (CNSAD) in Paris, in 2009 at the Centre National des Arts du Cirque (CNAC) in Châlons-en-Champagne and in 2011 at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre (ENSATT) in Lyon. In October 2012, he will be presenting his own work at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris and in December will also be staging a production of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. In 2011 he was appointed vice-president of the Performing Arts Alliance in Hungary. He has won numerous awards, including the Stanislavski Prize from Moscow in 2005, the Légion d’honneur from the French Ministry of Culture in 2008 and with Krétakör the Catalyst Award created by transit.hu as part of the Europe Theatre Prize in the New Theatrical Realities category between 2009 and 2011.

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