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George Tabori: Mein Kampf

The National Theatre’s performance
Location: National Theatre, Gobbi Hilda Stage

Date: 2 December 2010. 7 pm.

110 minutes with one break

in Hungarian with English subtitle





László Sinkó, Bence Mátyássy, Zalán Makranczi, Piroska Mészáros, Mari Törőcsik, Attila László, Ádám Földi, Réka Gerlits, Zsuzsa Komlósi

Translator: Imre Kurdi

Set design and costumes: Sándor Daróczi

Coreography: Krisztián Gergye

Dramaturg: Gergely Zöldi

Music: Zsuzsa Komlósi

Assistant to the Director: Zsófia Tüű

Director: Roland Rába

“I would call Mein Kampf a theological farce. Essentially, it is about love. In different levels.
About the celestial, the erotic, the sexual love. If one takes the Scriptures seriously – and as I age, I take it more and more seriously – then it is quite clear, that both the Jewish and the Christian Bible teach us to love our enemies just like ourselves. It is the theological level where the extreme opposites cultivate reconciliation, love and forgiveness. Passion is always mysterious.” (George Tabori)

Roland Rába graduated as an actor from the University of Theatre and Film in 1998. He spent his practice in Katona József Theatre, Budapest, and after some years of freelancing he became an actor of Krétakör (Chalk Circle, Árpád Schilling’s company) in 2002, and he was a member until its transformation. Since 2008 he has been an actor in the National Theatre of Budapest. Besides his theatrical work, he also plays in films; he was awarded as best actor at the Mediawave Festival and the Hungarian Film Week. In his acting there is always a rebellious, defiant opposition with traditions, which attitude seems to continue in his directions. He made his debut as a director last year, when he directed a show based on the contemporary Finnish author, Mika Myllyaho’s Panic, in which he was playing as an actor as well. His two directions yet show an interest in both postmodern texts and portraying internal tensions on stage.

After the communist leadership, because of the construction of the underground (as well), exploded the building of the Népszínház in Blaha Lujza square in 1964, the institution of the National Theatre had to move from building to building several times, however, there have been some attempts to build a new theatre. Finally, in 1997-98 it was taken up by politics, but therefore the case became part of political clashes, as a result of which instead of the winning competition, judged under the left government, another building and management of the new right government started to function as National in 2002. Since then, besides professional aspects, strong political aspects are also considered in direction of the National. The current management – with director Róbert Alföldi – broke with the former director’s careful, conservative traditionalism, and put radicalism into practice on stage, which is considered to be subversive by many, however, he is only trying to give an opportunity to the progressive theatrical efforts in the theatre that has the highlighted attention of the whole country.

Although he was born as Tábori Görgy in 1914 in Budapest, George Tabori was never a Hungarian playwright. He moved to Berlin at an early age, and during the Nazi terror he escaped to England and later to the USA because of his Jewish origin. He returned to the German-speaking area in the 1970s, and besides being a playwright and scriptwriter, awarded many times, he also was being engaged in experimental theatre-making until his death in 2007. His play Mein Kampf is focusing on a Hitler who is hardly the same as the infamous Nazi leader. In the story the young Adolf is arriving to Vienna to become a painter, and an old Jewish bookseller, Schlomo Herzl takes him under his wings in the communal accommodation. The wise old Jew becomes determining in their relationship: he teaches and “leads” Hitler towards his Kampf through a sequence of metaphysical gags. The farce, filled with cultural and historical wit, also has several serious moments; Tabori swings a strong system of symbols in the subject of death and holocaust. The ominous contents given by the awareness of the historical facts seem to be only innocent games of the two clowns, which duality gives the play its unique tone. Tabori gave the label „Great Love Story – Hitler and His Jew” to his play, and this “affection” is strengthened with the huge difference in age in Roland Rába’s direction, which uses the formal devicess of comic books many times. With linking two generation of actors, he portrays an affection full of wickedness but also unbreakable, typical in relationships of grandparents and grandchildren, that indicates the idea of director Róbert Alföldi’s new National Theatre: traditions must be reconsidered, not rejected.