Theatre – In A Different Way

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Experimentation, improvement and daring topics are often considered taboo. The Budapest-based Káva Drama/Theatre in Education Association, 3rd prize winner of the ERSTE Foundation Award for Social Integration 2013, is part of the OFF-Biennale Budapest with the performance named ‘Sculpture’, taking place on 6 May, 7 pm, at the MU Theatre (1117 Kőrösy József utca 21).

Káva produces so-caled participatory performances primarily for children and youngsters. Their method focuses on placing the audience in the centre. When selecting a theme for the pieces, a human, moral or social issue or problem is analysed.

“We see and present our performances as some kind of open social forum where we have the opportunity to discuss our opinions and thoughts on issues and problems relevant to all of us”, said Gábor Takács, actor and drama teacher of Káva.

An audience member, actor or actress – all the same

There are no characters, actors, actresses and audience at the Káva performances; everybody is involved. The creators see that the audience, irrespective of age, has a need to tell their opinion in connection with a specific issue, says János Kardos, actor and drama teacher. “Our theatre is driving this concept. It triggers motivation in everyone, including the need for involvement.”

We are a kind of social forum
Mostly school classes attend the Káva performances. In such cases, the students step out of the traditional educational setting and take part in an event where they are treated as partners and can tell their opinions. “In addition to the fact that the class shares a common theatrical experience, such occasions can have community-building impacts. They can get immersed in the topic together, taking a look at new aspects by watching and listening to others”, says János Kardos.

Do you want to remember?

Káva’s performances often analyse important social issues. So does the performance named ‘Sculpture’ which reflects on the 2008-2009 Roma murders. Every one of us has questions and opinions in connection with living together with Roma and non-Roma. The tension of this issue surrounds us also in our everyday life. This was the starting point for János Kardos and his company when writing the play. “When this tragedy happened, we thought we should deal with it. It was so extreme and inhuman that we needed to respond to it in a way with our means.”

The performance named Sculpture“The play debuted in the 2012-2013 season, and, in spite of the fact that it deals with a controversial topic, we can say, based on the feedback, that school classes really like this performance. The main question of the ‘Sculpture’ is if we want – and if yes, then how we want – to remember a Roma boy who was killed because of his race. What do we, outsiders, have to do with all this? The creators have produced a fiction which is relevant and understandable to everyone, provocative enough and inspired by real events. The media played a significant role, therefore we wanted to include it in the play in some form. The participants, for example, can ask one of the characters of the story questions as journalists. They can add their private opinions to the story at key dramatic points”, explains János Kardos.

The participants can help characters prepare for debates in small groups, providing them with arguments. They can create something new without words, based on their own acting, from the point of view of one of the characters. A sculpture is in the centre of the story, both literally and metaphorically. The question “Do you want to remember?” is asked through this object.

“We should reflect on ourselves”

Although they define themselves as a company, Káva’s life is around projects and shorter-longer temporary co-operations. They constantly look for connecting points and are interested in the connections between the theatre and the fine arts. “For Káva, one of the most important values is that we should continuously reflect on our environment, ourselves and our work” says Gábor Takács.

Performance at the OFF-BiennialIn the beginning of May, they Káva presented a street performance which was in close connection with their ‘Sculpture’ performance: the statue in the story was wrapped and taken outside. A large group of statues was built with the help of the students and their teachers who had taken part in the performance previously.

“We asked ourselves and the passers-by if we want to remember the series of murders aimed at Roma people a few years ago and the victims. The passers-by had the opportunity to think about it. They could tell us their reasons and thoughts which they then could write on the wrapped statue”, says Gábor Takács.

Article by Borbála Bíró and published in Hungarian on