I like to provoke, to test myself – Interview with Robert Fekete

Zoltán Balázs has commenced in autumn the FIVE GATES era-specific theatrical-methodology concept and the associated complex theatrical and talent care/support program which was created by himself. The concept is basically a professional set of proposals for the renewal of performing arts, in which the independent theater creator relies on its acquired domestic and international theatrical knowledge and pedagogical experience, in a variety of genres. In our series of interviews with the junior members of the Maladype Company, we are now talking with Robert Fekete, one of the researchers of the FIVE GATES program.

How did you get so close to the theater?

I was born in Transylvania, in Reghin. I have been attracted to the stage since I was a child, I was a member of the cities puppet-group and I was delighted to attend the piano concerts of the local music school on a quarterly basis. At the age of fourteen, I went to Cluj-Napoca, in Reformed College, where I participated in student drama performances. Unlike the other Maladype Junior members, I did not get the undergraduate degree in Târgu-Mureş, but in Cluj-Napoca at the Babes-Bolyai Faculty of Theater and Television, acting department, in the class of Csaba Szilágyi-Palkó. After a while I felt that I needed new people, new impulses, so I’ve decided to apply for admission at the University of Arts in Târgu-Mureş, on Master’s Degree, in the class of Erzsébet B. Fülöp, from whom I’ve heard a lot of good things. Before the admission I became fond of my classmates, now my current colleagues.

How important is for you the environment, the team, how inspiring are those, whom you are working with?

The positive stimuli of the people around me and the theater environment are very important. I’ve always tried to find that community, where the creative energy and forces dominate. Individual motivation is indispensable, but it could not be more important than the common cause of each and one of us, the performance we are working on. I fell much more productive if the atmosphere of the emerging performance is not infected by one of my colleague’s ego. I love to get lost in the rehearsals, but for this I need co-workers with helping intentions and trust.

Is it true that you speak four languages?

Yes, and I’ve already used all of them on stage. During the Master’s Degree in Târgu-Mureş, I’ve had a performance in the Radu Stanca National Theater in Sibiu in Romanian and English (Rocky Horror Picture Show), and two German performances as well (Woyzeck, R.U.R.- Rossum’s Universal Robots). I’ve mastered the Romanian language in my preschool years and I’ve been practicing it with my Romanian neighbors. And thanks to my father’s work, where he was speaking German, which made me angry, because I did not understand a word, I tried to improve it and in college, I chose this class as my main subject, and later I managed to graduate from it. I learned English from movies, TV series and curriculum.

You are now a member of the Maladype Company. How did you get Zoli Balázs’s attention?

I’ve met Zoli for the first time when he directed our performance “August” at our university. The rehearsals were extremely inspiring. Later I’ve met Zoli again, during a conference in Bucharest, where the University of Arts in Târgu-Mureş delegated me. He was just directing Gardenia at the Odeon Theater. We’ve talked about a lot of things and then cane up with the opportunity of me trying myself in the Maladype Company. I wasn’t at the time member of the theater’s company in Sibiu, but I’ve already played in some of the performances and they told me, that they would expect me next season. So at first, I had to discuss this with them. Constantin Chiriac, the director of the theater, knowing Zoli’s personality and works, clearly supported this idea and encouraged me to choose the Maladype. The theater from Sibiu was also willing to tally their performances with the Maladype’s program. I’ve always tried to get in touch with highly demanding professional challenges and opportunities that induce real changes. I am open to any impulse that explores the potential of unknown areas of art. For instance, filming. I like to provoke, to test myself. I got at the university a basic knowledge, but I don’t feel that it would be enough for the quality I am looking for as a career entrant. This is why it was an important aspect for me to get to a theater, where I have the chance to learn continuously, to attend courses beyond rehearsals.

As a researcher of the FIVE GATES program, how do these intentions work?

I look at the program as a coherent practice, whereby various conditionings get more clear in my mind, and in time I learn to separate the genuine and disbelieving components of the actor’s toolbox.

What is the course of the program, what kind of milestones are in there?

These are theoretical-practical stages based on professional-human recognitions, brainstormings, in which we all get the Aha! experience; that we know certain things, but we couldn’t arrange them holistically. Through different association games, we get to the cause and effect questions of theater-making. By the FIVE GATES, we are looking for the search-research and renewable theatrical process, in which the creator and the spectator will be able to reconsider the principle of the theater. The essence of the program is the long-term sensitization process.

By working with Zoli, you’ve learned a new working method. What kind of new impulses, exercises will organize the development of the concept in the next three years?

I don’t consider Zoli only as my director or boss. He is a collaborator who constantly provokes and helps me to (re)organize my existing knowledge. It is also important for him that in the future we could be able to present and pass the knowledge we’ve accumulated in the FIVE GATES program in a more complex way. Zoli’s lifestyle and way of thinking emit energy that it is essential for the Maladype Theater’s theater-making processes. He is the opposite of everything that many directors lack. For the first time, I felt the need to not only look at the details, but also think about the whole task and its various aspects afterward. Since we’ve been working together, I’ve learned to engage in a valid dialogue with myself on topics and thoughts that have been discussed. This way of thinking, in which Zoli initiates us every day, means a lot to us as actors and as people in creating a more theater conscious vision. I believe that in ten years I will get more out of what I’ve learned here as if I would be part of a crowd on stage in a mega production for good money. The many experiences I’ve gained –thanks to which we can learn about varied theatrical cultures and boldly experimenting creators from all around the world-, contribute to our continuous development.

Hanna Szegő, Szinhaz.org, 30.3.2019