| TROUPESIndependent Theater Hungary
Independent Theater Hungary
|Year of foundation of the theater||2007|
|Leader of the theater:||Rodrigó Balogh|
|Main artists:||Rodrigó Balogh - director, artistic leader
Márton Illés - dramaturg and director
Emília Boda-Novy - actor and director
Tamás András Szegedi - actor, director, drama instructor and trainer
István Babindák - actor, musician and music composer
Máté Antal Kovács - musician and music composer
Orsolya Balogh - actor
Dávid Csányi - actor and director
Edina Dömök - actor and trainer
Norbert Varga - actor
Dávid Varga - actor
Ramóna Farkas - actor
"One of the goals of the Independent Theater is to train disadvantaged young people. Thus, they also include in their performances those who come from a similar environment, from a painful deprivation. That’s why they can be so authentic.
But that doesn’t mean that they’re amateurs. Their gestures are expressive, their facial expressions are meaningful. Moving close between us, they don’t fall out of their role, they improvise well when they must. They can mix tragedy and comedy at almost the same moment. They talk about themselves through their theater. They talk about their own problems in public, with brutal honesty and amazing openness."
- Gábor Bóta (journalist) on Frog Tales in Népszava, 2021
ABOUT the theater
Our mission is to help underprivileged Roma and non-Roma people become successful artists, trainers, or professionals in whichever field they work but first and foremost, help them become active citizens.
We want to achieve that different groups can understand and accept each-other and can create values together. We want to reach and facilitate those who don’t usually have access to culture, and make the people already abandoned by society active citizens. We want the young people of the future to find authentic pieces of art about today’s society.
It’s important for us to show how colorful the Roma theatre is, how many different topics are covered and what a wide range of genres are combined in it.
Social Marie Special Prize
Soós Mária Prize at International Romani Film Festival, Budapest
International Ibsen Award
Junior Prima Prize – Hungarian Education and Public Education Category
UNHCR Refugee Award
“… my role as a parade frog
will be to prove
how beautiful and inclusive the non-frog world is.”
The play is preceded by Leonor Teles’ experimental short film A Ballad from Batrach. In the film, the artist breaks frog statues at the entrance to Portuguese shops, drawing attention to a discriminatory practice. These seemingly charming frog statues were placed at the entrance of the shops throughout Portugal to keep the Roma away. We know of many stories that security guards follow the Roma in the shops and that they are not even allowed into many clubs. But the frogs themselves are rarely mentioned. Who are these frogs? In many cases, they are the members of the Roma minority themselves. This is because majority societies have always preferred to employ members of minorities to keep them away or even regulate their own people.
In the performance directed by Balogh Rodrigó we get to know the history of three generations of a frog family, two generations of which can get a job as guardians, bouncers. Thus, they are often confronted with the people of their own community and divided against their own identity. The family members in the story evolve from generation to generation, until the youngest frog can turn from a guardian-frog into a musician. With his art, he already softens the heart of the princess who will fall in love with him. Of course, from the kiss of the princess, frogs will become princes. The question, however, is whether the distinction between frogs will cease if a young frog turns into a prince? Because Obama became president, has institutional discrimination against American blacks come to an end? Have the Roma in decision-making positions in Hungary made any systemic changes to the daily lives of their communities? The exhibition of the artist Norbert Oláh and the related performance end with these questions.
Ogre freak - Or Face the Truth! is a puppet show that depicts the high school years of a young Roma boy whose greatest fear is that his origins will be revealed. The story is about overcoming this fear, taking pride in ourselves and it is about the fact that we all have difficulties we don’t have to hide.
What difficulties does a young person have to face in a new environment? What could be the secret to success? How can he be popular in the new environment? “Ogre freak” makes life difficult for a twelve-year-old boy. To escape his fears, he has to work hard to keep his secrets hidden from his new friends in his new school. Adam, the protagonist, seizes every opportunity to be popular, but recognition and success are not given for free, and sooner or later the truth will come to light. Then friendship, trust, courage, and all-encompassing love will have a real role to play!
The grueling fated girl, Panna Czinka already at the age of 9, played her violin in such a way that people marveled at her. Thanks to her talent, her landowner taught her to play the violin with his own money, and by the age of 12, the little Gypsy girl had become a real virtuoso artist. She traveled the country in a Gypsy caravan, practiced, played music diligently; she lived as a fugitive when she had to, and she played music when she was allowed to. The caravan once farmed close to the camp of a Hungarian regiment when a handsome military officer appeared. Despite all the bitterness of the young woman’s fate, she greeted him with an open heart. Love unfolded between them minute by minute. The Hungarian soldier and the Gypsy girl embarked on a common path. But the persecution of the Gypsies affected the lives of both. Their love was overshadowed by a lot of hurt, malice, and a sense of love for their own people.
Is the saying that love defeats everything true? If you had to choose between a relationship and a career, what would you choose? Can different origins put an end to capitalized love? The love thread of our story is fictitious, but the performance describes historically accurate events. Seventy minutes of time-jump awaits the audience in the arms of Mother Nature. Accompanied by authentic live music, we show the age and the woman who was the first to make a breakthrough in Gypsy music.
Gellért Hill (Gellérthegy)
“Our color is different, our kind is different, we think differently, but together we somehow still thrive more easily.”
Animal Comedy (based on a play by Péter Valcz) is a humorous, interactive family performance about friendship and theater, at which both children and adults can have fun. It’s about a theatre company of different animals that can’t compete with today’s needs, so they’re forced to break up, they have to stand alone, without theater. Among the members of the company, we can see the aged cobra who is the company leader, the comic monkey, the young heartbreaker tiger, the ‘prima donna’ cat and the helpful mole.
The members need to stay afloat to know their strengths, what changes they need to make so as to eventually become a more cohesive team. By the end of the story, they realize that together they can move forward more easily than alone. Theater can provide something that virtual reality is not able to do. What is the strength of a community? How can we achieve change together? The play covers these issues, among others.
The performance is recommended for everyone from the age of five.
‘Lápos’, an imaginary sack village, can be any village in Hungary today: with inhabitants who struggle for their daily living; better or worse, but they are lovable residents. Misery-tourists visit the Lápos village day every year and they meet real human tragedies in the pokey but inventive village in the realms of the gastro-theatre performance.
How much chance does a Gypsy woman have if she raises her child on her own without any opportunity to work? Where is hope when the biggest goodwill turns the most important people of our lives against us? What is needed when we take the road of unscrupulousness because we cannot get out of the woods? Where is the boundary between humanity and inhumanity? Similar questions arise when the tourists/spectators are walking on the lush side of Gellért Hill in Budapest during the performance by the Independent Theatre Hungary. They can also taste the special delicacies of the village during the play.
Village Day was inspired by decades of research conducted by ethnographer Judit Durst, and it shows a face of the Hungarian countryside and disadvantaged communities that most of us can hardly know. The play is performed by a diverse group of Roma and non-Roma actors - just as diverse a community as most of the Hungarian villages.
Gellért Hill (Gellérthegy)
Ruždija Sejdovič, Jovan Nikolič: Kosovo Mon Amour – War Trash in Six Episodes
(Kosovo Mon Amour – Háborús trash hat részben)
*online quarantine theater*
D.: Rodrigó Balogh, Márton Illés
The play by Ruždija Sejdović and Jovan Nikolić, one of the most outstanding works of European Roma drama, provides an insight into the war in Kosovo which ended more than twenty years ago. In honor of the International World Theater Day, the play would have been performed at the RS9 Theater in the framework of a stage reading, interpreted by nine excellent Roma actors. Adapting to the situation caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, the audience could watch it in a new genre. It was recorded by mobile phones, mainly in the form of video compilation shots in the living spaces of the actors and was released on the social media surfaces of the Independent Theater Hungary.
How can we protect our family, property or identity? What is the right moment to escape, and where can we escape when fighting is everywhere? Where can hatred lead in a society where decades of peaceful coexistence have prevailed? The play raises questions that are still relevant today. It focuses on the very existing Roma middle class, instead of the misery of the Gypsy settlements that came under the crossfire of Serbs and Albanians during the Kosovo war. The production was presented in six short episodes.
“Why, have you ever done anything for someone else? What are you doing to improve the health care system? To improve the treatment of patients?"
What are the general experiences about the healthcare system? How embarrassing is it to just wait and wait when we are ill and vulnerable? What are our experiences or stereotypes concerning the Roma, addicts or extremist youngsters who accidentally might become our neighbors in a ward? The health care system has a lot of weak points, and we all have at least one horror story about a quirky nurse, a grumpy doctor, an insupportable patient, or dirty wards. Let’s have a look at this question from another angle, let’s see what we can do for a change. The play by the Independent Theater Hungary shows different viewpoints on health care, as well as coexistence in general. It also draws attention to the importance of active behaviour through the life stories of four youngsters in a hospital wardroom. In the performance we get to know their illnesses, their relationships with each other, their prejudices against each other and the world. Yet the young people stop complaining, they overcome the differences between them, and try to do something together.
„We can truly understand our loved ones only if we do not simply accept what they say with their lips. Only if we really breathe together and become truly one, as a chameleon.”
A helper is asking questions to a seemingly average teenage girl to understand why she did what she did, why she wants to decide as she does. The girl recalls memories and experiences, not all of which are her own. We can learn about the challenges of grandparents, sisters, teachers, kindergarten peers and schoolmates through the story of the girl with a strange talent: she can assimilate with everything or everyone, reads the mind and memories of others, and doesn’t want to follow anyone’s example. She wants to live her own life instead.
The superhero-story is based on the real-life stories of Roma youngsters participating in the “Roma Heroes” workshop of the Independent Theater. The play brings new light on the members of this colorful and conscious generation.
„What is the hardest word for you? What is the word that is hard to say and why?"
The monodrama displays both the vulnerability and the firm character of Jess. From her confession, we learn what challenges she must face while fighting steadily for her goals – against her own family, society, or authorities.
She believes that sometimes civil disobedience is the only way to maintain our dignity.
Theater can make a difference. Richard R O’Neill’s play, based on the story of Jess Smith, was first performed at the Edinburgh Storytelling Festival in 2008. The issue of the centuries long persecution caught the attention of the Church of Scotland when one of the priests, Russel McLarty attended Jess Smith’s show at the festival. After the premiere, Jess met the church leaders and this experience initiated long-lasting changes in the church’s approach to the history of the Travellers. When Jess Smith told her friend, the playwright Richard R. O’Neill about her plan to demand a statement of apology from the state, he offered to write a monologue for Jess – so, this play is the demand itself. Although neither the state nor the first minister apologized to the Traveller communities for the violation of their human rights, on 25 May 2012 the Church of Scotland did so.
Rikárdó Has Cooked Up Something is the title of the event organized in the 8th district of Budapest by the Goethe Institute, Budapest on 28 October in 2017. The team of the Independent Theater Hungary joined the program, and they created a story-commando in the squares and pubs of the 8th district.
The members of the Independent Theater Hungary collected personal stories at Teleki Square Market, Budapest and made interviews with Roma artists. Based on these materials, the Theatre created a performance that was performed as a closing event of the Goethe Institute.
Teleki Square Market, Goethe Institute
(Teleki piac, Goethe Intézet)
Klára Kónya, Márton Illés, Rodrigó Balogh, Sebestyén Kodolányi, Tamás Rábavölgyi, Tamás András Szegedi, Viktória Kondi: Dogfight
D.: The Ensemble
Do you agree that making up concepts of the enemy and false solutions are in the center of attention instead of dealing with real problems and real solutions? The Independent Theater Hungary together with Közkép look behind the scenes that neither journalists nor ordinary people can see. Be brave to reflect further on the news, tell what you conclude but never think that you’ve got the Philosophers’ Stone.
We don’t think so either. But we’re young and less young. Gypsies and less Gypsies. Poor and quite well-to-do. We don’t want to be divided all the time. Instead, we share with you what we pay attention to, and we’re interested in your point of view, too. Maybe, if we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and don’t get divided, we can shape the world that belongs to all of us. Any similarity with fictitious events or characters is purely coincidental in our videos.
The baseline to justify our social and political system is a paradox: living in social inequity the oppressed groups are willing to support the existing system even if it’s contrary to their clear interests.
Luckily, the criticism of the ruling political system is typical in our society, even among those who are the beneficiary of the changing regimes. In case there’s a possibility for a change the criticism revives, however when the possibility seems to fade, people begin to move forward apathy. The audience as visitors of an archiving center operating under a public labor camp can get an insight into the public workers’ and their leaders’ lives in an interactive way.
On the International Theatre Day (27 March, 2014) was the premiere of our new performance called Saint Cows that shows the well-tried and standard practices of discrimination in our society.
The street theatre performance begins at Fővám Square in Budapest, and six prominent actors guide those who couldn’t get to the theatre that day, focusing on the following selected themes:
- good world: major political corruption
- someone must take the blame: scapegoating, the hate rhetoric of national politicians, regardless of their party affiliation
- the press regurgitates the news: racist media image
- plans backfire: the problems of society are recurring in the form of acts of hatred
- we do nothing: there’s still something to deprive women of
- and it gets worse: destroyed human dignity
- let’s get out of here: the result of the above-mentioned problems is a great number of economic refugees
In the performance entitled Eartheaters by the Independent Theater Hungary eight European contemporaries tell stories about their lives and thoughts. By 2124 we’ve run out of all the food and only the members of a mutant species survived: the eartheaters.
It’s only us who can give answers to environmental, social and economic problems raised by the eight people. On Earth Day the Peer Gynt bursary-winners wear costumes made of recycled raw materials and they play the eight European figures to our fellow citizens gathered on the green lawn of Millenáris Park.
Dreams of Junk (Szemétálmok)
*street educational theater*
D.: Gitta Dani, Boglárka Dani, Gábor Jászberényi, Márton Illés, Rodrigó Balogh, Ilona Nótár, Nedda Négyessy, Aurélia Nemes, Gergő Frumen, Mercedes Kalocsay, André Raatzsch
It is an initiative of citizens who work for the unique phenomenon of „lomtalanítás or lomizás” – that is a district or city-wide cleanup – not to stop existing, but to become joyful community events; where, with the guidance of artist trainers, children of different backgrounds can create pieces of art out of garbage and street performances out of nothing together. The participants of the events get closer to art and to each-other, they experience building value out of garbage, and that they can shape their environment.
We believe that the street is a perfect place for art education, for encounters, for creating together and for success, where all passers-by have a role – independently from where they come from and where they are going to.
The adaptation of the world-famous Peer Gynt by Ibsen tells the story of a young boy living in a small, corrupt village where nobody has the courage to take actions against the mayor’s crime organization. The boy is very popular among women, especially the mayor’s daughter who is fond of him, but he needs a lot of luck when he mentions the discrepancies occurring in the village.
The United Nation Prize and Ibsen Award winning performance by the Independent Theatre Hungary can be seen during the three-hour long excursion to Gellért Hill and is performed by young Roma and non-Roma actors. The different scenes take place in various points of the picturesque hill. The participants can never know what will happen next, the only stable thing is that at the end of the excursion, on the green field they have dinner together with the creators of the unusual initiative.
Five young people run off from the summer camp organized for Roma children, after having pointed out some discrepancies. They want to go home. On their way they get into real and dream-like situations and get to know each-other’s stories that also come alive on the stage. Through their experiences, we get a glimpse at a corner of the world which most of us know little about or we only have distorted information about.
Mirad, Fazila, Djuka…Exotic names…The people bearing these names can be Kurdish, Afghan, Iraqi, Palestinian, Somalian. Several examples of hotbeds of crisis on Earth could be provided. We listen to the news and read the newspapers with the certainty "That’s not gonna happen to us…".
The fair boy from The Mouth Organ-playing Boy by István Simon was brought to us by World War II. Rodrigo Balogh’s Mirad is also weeping with his mouth organ for the past, the present and the future, thus, for everything. This studio drama is imminent in time and space. What remains for man when the whole world so far known is ruined by the Yugoslav War?
The play shows the troubles and successes of the protagonist, Rupi, the sheep. Its main message is no matter who we are, where we come from or what color our skin is, we all have the same problems. The performance is built on tolerance which is one of the most fundamental human values. Its most important tool is humor. In the play we can hear authentic Gypsy songs in Greek, Romanian, Serbian, Hungarian, Slovene, Russian and Czech Roma languages.
The prose materials of the performance were inspired by the tales of Károly Bari. It is rich in idioms, word puns, and the folksy narrative is blended with today’s language
Márton Illés: Chameleon Girl (Kaméleonlány)
-> The Wave Cultural Center
Rodrigó Balogh: Shoddies (Selejtesek)
-> Őrkő Manus Roma Reunion (Manus)
Rodrigó Balogh: Feather Picking (Tollfosztás)
-> St-Gervais Theater (Théâter St-Gervais Geneva)
All rights reserved
1: ©Vivien Kovács-Balogh_Independent Theater Hungary team
2: ©Alina Vincze_Kosovo Mon Amour
3: ©Alina Vincze_Shoddies
4: ©Alina Vincze_Village Day
5: ©Alina Vincze_Village Day
6: ©Alina Vincze_Roma Heroes Festival
7: ©Máté A. Kovács_Highlights of Hungary Award
8: ©Alina Vincze_The Hardest Word
9: ©Alina Vincze_Village Day
10: ©Alina Vincze_Shoddies
11: ©Alina Vincze_workshop
12: ©Alina Vincze_Shoddies
13: ©Alina Vincze_Chameleon Girl
14: ©Alina Vincze_Independent Theater Hungary team
15: ©screenshot_European Family