We try to keep up with the changes - Interview with Brigitta Dőry / 2019

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 Brigitta Dőry, one of the researchers of the FIVE GATES program.

- You grew up in Miskolc, from where you've applied to University of Arts in Târgu Mureş, acting major. Why were you so drawn to pursuing acting? How did you end up in Zalaegerszeg, after that in Budapest at the Maladype Theatre?

- I've always wanted to be an actress since I was in second grade. I love to act, I love the people, the zest. I could never imagine myself with a job, where I have to sit in one place all day. Fortunately, my family supported my objectives to the fullest and they would have never forced me in doing something I did not want to do. I graduated drama high school and one year later I was admitted to the University of Arts in Târgu Mureş, puppet arts department. In Romania the actor training is divided, so after three years I had to apply again, and only then I got in the acting class. In that year, Rita Bartal-Kiss, the artistic director of the Griff Puppet Theater in Zalaegerszeg, contacted me to sign a contract. I accepted the offer, so I completed the last two years of my university studies in parallel with my job at the Puppet Theater. It was not an easy task to accommodate the theater season with the university and the tours, but when it came to my knowledge that I would be able to work with Zoli Balázs, this became a priority in every way. I've already met Zoli and the Maladype Company years ago, so I knew exactly what they stand for; I was sure that for me this is a huge opportunity. At that time, I had no idea how significant this new encounter might be in my life. And now I am here at the Maladype with six of my classmates...

- Under what circumstances have you met Zoli before? What did you like in his mindset?

- During my high school year, there was a contemporary art festival at the Iron Factory in Miskolc, where there was a theatre project led by the Maladype actors under the guidance of Zoli. Working with them was significant to me. I remember, that after the camp I played with the thought of going to the University of Arts in Târgu Mureş, because I knew that some of the actors from the Maladype graduated there. It also occurred to me that it would be nice to belong to them and have performances in Budapest. At the camp, Zoli introduced us to a very special theatrical approach. He had already stated on the first day of the two-week working process that there will be no performance because this meeting is not about that. Instead, we had discussions, improvised, and finally, in the meeting room of the Iron Factory, we discussed an important issue that was affecting the people from Miskolc. In the game of cause and effect connections and logical, rhetorical questions, we were the lawyers, witnesses, the judge and the jury. This event was open to everyone and, during the fictitious trial, everyone could become a part of this unusual game. The biggest experience for me was that besides the members of the company, the audience could also play with us. We were thinking, debating and arguing together.

- What are the most important exercises that you can learn from Zoli today?

- Zoli has an inexhaustible level of attention and energy, and with consistent relentlessness encourages us to work consistently, economically and productively. He managed to open my eyes to the versatility of acting. In the process of working together, he has drawn my attention to my habits that I have not noticed myself before. For example, in my acting, sometimes the most insignificant grimaces or gestures seem to be the most pronounced; if I do not learn to control them, they will easily turn against me and counteract my original intentions. The most inspirational thing in Zoli is his commitment to the values of theater and I would like to understand and master the objectives and tools of the FIVE GATES research program he had developed.

- Running is important to you. You have already supported the Maladype Company this year. How can you exploit the relaxation processes you have learned by running in the stage presence, at the rehearsals?

- I was very excited about this opportunity because I have not participated in such running races. It was Erika Tankó’s idea to participate in the “The theater runs” marathon in the relay race section as the Maladype Theater with Róbert Fekete and Lóránd Bartha. We are so proud that we ended up in the fourth place and we were overall only slightly off the podium. Previously I’ve been playing handball for several years, but I had to stop because theater started to gain ground in my life. However, I was unable to give up being active, so I started running and practicing yoga. I enjoy running and it’s good to see, that more and more people are doing this kind of sport, and that it is becoming more popular among actors. It charges me physically and mentally as well. It uses my body and mind properly, but it also has one positive effect as well, from which I can focus, and my stamina and endurance are in constant training. After a hard day it is a perfect cool-down.

- You have finished the puppet arts. What extra skills does this add to your thinking, actor’s toolbox? How can you use this knowledge in the Malaydpe Company and how this enhances through the FIVE GATES program?

- I believe it’s important for an actor to establish close contact with other art forms, trends, genres. Such is the puppetry and its techniques. This is why I enjoy working at the Maladype Theater, because I know that this kind of extra knowledge counts here. Zoli has already had several legendary puppet shows, so I can be sure that during our work he will be claiming my puppeteer skills. The Maladype performances are also often based on the dual function of the creator-creation and the theatrical philosophy of the theater also allows an object, a material -in its motion or its form- to act as a symbolic sign. Both the traditions and modern endeavors of puppetry require creativity and the ability to rethink and reinterpret. The FIVE GATES concept encourages this creative flexibility.

- Why do you feel like participating in the FIVE GATES program?

- I can be part of a team where I can blindly trust my colleagues. It is a privilege that as a class that graduated together, we have been given the opportunity to professionally grow and show ourselves in the Maladype Theater. Through the FIVE GATES program we examine ourselves, the theater, we search for parts, look for connections, overlaps, which everything over time becomes a whole. I am seeing and perceiving things differently since I became a researcher of the theatrical-methodology program. In every creative gesture, we look for the presence of human factors. For me, perhaps the most essential is the concept of „human-actor”. On and off stage as well. Zoli often reminds us that most actors easily forget where they came from and from time to time it is important to remind them that they were once „people”. After each of our performances we have a meeting with the audience, where we discuss with them. These personal encounters enrich our stage presence with human impulses. I think this kind of human-centeredness, immediacy makes our acting very good. Perhaps this is why there are people, who come back to watch our performances more than once.

- What do you expect from the next three years?

- I am certain that as has been the case so far, we will continue to travel and go on tours abroad. Only a few Hungarian theater companies have the opportunity to become part of the worldwide theater trends, festivals and professional forums, so I am particularly happy to be a member of such a company, that has a chance to all of this. In the autumn we are going to be having our new performance due to lack of Corporate Tax support and we will be visiting research institutes, where we can get acquainted in workshops with the special methods of well-known directors and theater-creators. In addition, we continue to search, research, observe the world around us, and try to keep up with the changes. We would like to be financially in a more predictable position and that here, they would appreciate our companies work, professional commitment and perseverance more. I am looking forward to the coming period as we are in the midst of the jubilee season- Maladype will be 18 years old in the 2019/2020 season!

Hanna Szegő, Színház.org, 2019

Translation by Brigitta Erőss