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The Champion by Béla Pintér

Katona József Theatre

 

Saturday, 3 December, 7 pm

Katona József Theatre

75 minutes without a break

Performed in Hungarian with English surtitles

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Performed by:

Judit Rezes

Ervin Nagy

Adél Jordán

Zoltán Bezerédi

Anna Pálmai

Ferenc Elek

Zoltán Rajkai

 

Set design: Zsolt Khell

Costume design: Mari Benedek

Music: Gizi Bagó, Bea Berecz

Musical director: Kéménczy Antal

Pianino: Antal Kéménczy, Balázs Futó

Dramaturg: Éva Enyedi

Assistant: Réka Budavaári

Directed by: Béla Pintér

Date of first night: 19. March, 2016

WHO? During the past 17 years Béla Pintér, who started his career as an actor, wrote and directed 21 plays with his internationally acclaimed company. Even though the composition of his troupe is in constant change, they play all of their pieces on the repertory in the original form and with the original cast. Until now Pintér has not worked in any theatre other than his. The performance titled The Champion, based on Puccini’s The Cloak, at the renowned Katona József Theatre, is his first work at an established theatre, not performed by Pintér’s regular troupe. An exceptional occasion, an exceptional work.

WHAT? The Champion, mixing the tradition of folk theatre with the tools of opera, is both lewd and true, Hungarian, elaborating on a tabloid subject, political and love story, which presents the so-called ‘small Hungarian reality’, laden with repressed secrets. Inspired by Puccini, Pintér wrote an entirely new story. He tells a story of a small-town mayor’s tumultuous love life, featuring the amorous attraction of two women, a politician’s wife and a successful sportswoman. There is a relationship which can be sacrificed, which becomes the prey of duty. A fictive town, Verőcsény, is organizing elections for the mayor’s position, which is won a fourth time by Attila. After the long election day an illustrious company gathers at the house of the mayor, his wife, his campaign leader, a local TV crew and the Olympic medalist sportswoman come to celebrate. But soon enough, the true relations start to surface. Pinter stages characteristic rural figures, rotten to the core, a political elite drowning in its own lies, who, as usual in the plays by Pintér, submerge deeper and deeper in their own excrements. For Pintér’s topical performance the tabloid story is just a pretext, as he follows his own artistic rules, creating real dramatic situations, conflicts, true human characters in this enclosed environment. He shows us a tableaux of the public life of politicians, where the decent family life is just a front. Pintér’s contemporary and shockingly innovative piece has met the real gossips of political life, stirring up a sizeable scandal. The show also does not shy away from the compassionate portrayal of tragic, truly human situations.

WHY? Through the company of Katona József Theatre Pintér speaks the same language we expect him to, the same level of sarcasm and complex layering. The clash between the vulgar content and the majestic music is a constant source of humour. On the other hand, the shocking moments of the performance are rendered more approachable through the everyday language, the dialogue, the gestures become are natural and the drama becomes truly visceral. The meeting between Puccini and Pintér takes the shape of a specific recitativo, with only an upright piano to accompany the performers, which gives a specific niche flavour to the show.