Alice in bed at the 44th Budapest Spring Festival!

With the motto The city is together! the 44th Budapest Spring Festival announced its series of programs to be held between April 29 and May 12. The long-standing all-arts meeting awaits Budapest residents and visitors with theater performances, exhibitions, concerts and unusual performance-type productions. The two-week series of events with the participation of Hungarian and international artists will be shown at nearly 30 locations. Part of the programs will be hosted by Merlin, which reopened in 2023, and the city's new public square, City Hall Passage.

Since the date of this year's Budapest Spring Festival coincides with the 20th anniversary of Hungary's accession to the European Union, many programs deal with our intellectual and emotional relationship with Europe. At the same time, this year's festival also shows that Budapest is open to the world, stands in solidarity with those who are victims of conflict situations and stands by those who fight for their freedom.

Zoltán Balázs' Golden Mask award-winning direction, which will be presented at the Örkény István Theater on May 7 from 7:00 p.m., fits this content. Susan Sontag's absurd Alice in bed, whose main character the writer modeled on the philosopher William James and the writer Henry James's genius sister, Alice James, who passed away early, can be seen by the Hungarian audience for the first time in the SARTR - Sarajevo War Theatre.

The joint production of the MESS International Theater Festival, the SARTR – Sarajevo War Theater, the Maladype Theatre and the Budapest Spring Festival was born on the occasion of the anniversary of the American writer's birth and death. in front of a literary, feminist and pacifist icon, who spoke out against the war in Vietnam and Yugoslavia, and also carried out significant humanitarian work in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In besieged Sarajevo, she directed and staged Samuel Beckett's existentialist drama Waiting for Godot with Bosnian actors who rehearsed and performed by candlelight amidst the bombings. The large number of audiences present at the performances, despite the constant danger to their lives, became a symbol of commitment to peace and unity. The jubilee direction of Zoltán Balázs also pays tribute to the legendary performance presented thirty years ago, as well as to the premiere of the writer's play Alice in bed, which was also seen by the audience for the first time three decades ago as a production of the New York Theater Workshop at the La MaMa Theater in New York.

Directed by the head of the Maladype Theatre in Sarajevo, Susan Sontag's cult play imbued with a deep humanity does not lack dynamism and playfulness, multi-faceted synchronicity running on several levels and threads, storytelling combining specific content-form solutions, and acting that is fulfilled through verbal and non-verbal signs. emotional and intellectual enhancement of the game.

Critical reception:

"The story of Alice is compiled by Susan Sontag from the pictures of Alice in Wonderland. The direction of Zoltán Balázs builds on this fantastic invention. Balázs works as both a director and choreographer, and his productions are usually visually striking. Bogićević, who portrays Alice, presents the choreography dreamed up by the director above the stage, which is simply stunning. While Bogićević's emphatic presence conveys Alice's tireless mind and searching intellect well, it sometimes works against the experience of confinement and physical limitation. Balázs's direction places him on a throne, portraying him as someone who lives separately from the world, floating above it, and yet connected to it." Natasha Tripney

"Balázs is guided by the principle of distorting matter in order to construct spirituality. In the play's preface, S. Sontag talks about "the victories of the imagination, which are not enough." Imagination is not an end in itself, otherwise it would be self-sufficient. Balázs formulated this idea precisely when he intervened in the original drama text and inserted some riddles into the lines of Alice's mother. A puzzle is a pretend chaos created by the imagination. Imagination has the power to recognize this chaos as order, to show the seemingly hopeless meaninglessness of Alice's tormented mind as meaning. However, remember that all puzzles are self-serving. And so this play ultimately closes in on itself, in Alice's mind, achieving a smug triumph of imagination. It's impressive that the arrangement goes one step further than this concept. Balázs's Alice only descends from her throne onto the stage boards in the last seconds of the play, and even then only to utter a word that solves the final puzzle: nothing. This riddle, this nothingness, which is self-serving, self-dissolving, is like a snake eating its own tail, like Alice eating her own name.” Lamija Milišić

"Susan Sontag's celebrated play gained a completely new dimension with this performance, the specific stage movement, the special sound and music, and revealed the harsh reality of the privileged woman "trapped" in the world of prejudice. The actors have successfully achieved a perfect fusion of play and text. Above all, Alice in bed reminds us of the limits (limitlessness) of the human spirit, where the boundaries of reality and dreams merge. This performance inspires us to dream, to look for miracles, where the line between the possible and the impossible is lost." heartbeat.poet

Translated by: Sylvia Huszár

Susan Sontag: Alice in bed

Translated by: Senada Kreso

Co-production between the MESS International Theatre Festival, SARTR Theatre, Maladype Theatre and the Budapest Spring Festival


Alice James: Snežana BOGIĆEVIĆ
Mom/Nurse: Ana-Mia KARIĆ
Alice's father „Henry”: Kemal RIZVANOVIĆ
Alice's brother „Harry”: Sanjin ARNAUTOVIĆ
Margaret Fuller: Matea MAVRAK
Emily Dickinson: Hana ZRNO
Young man: Enes KOZLIČIĆ


Director: Zoltán Balázs
Dramaturg: Zoltán Balázs
Set designer: Zoltán Balázs
Costume designer: Ljiljana Majkić
Mask: Sanela Aličković Ćatović
Music director: Tijana Vignjević
Editor of sound: Nedim Zlatar
Sound: Irhad Hodžić
Light: Armin Berberović, Džani Dimovski
Assistant directors: Ajla Medanhodzić, Minja Novaković
Production assistants: Lejla Hsanbegovic, Belma Jusufović
Production managers: Katalin Balázs, Maia Salkić
Producers: Sylvia Huszár, Nihad Kreševljaković

Opening Night: 10/01/2023, SARTR - Sarajevo War Theatre, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Running time: 75 minutes

Translated to English by: Zsuzsanna Juraszek