Obsessively, bravely, curiously – Interview with Zoltán Balázs / 2009

He considers himself neither a director nor an actor. He is simply Zoltán Balázs. He recovered from an injury in January, and that was why the Seagull’s premiere at Bárka was delayed. And he can no longer rest: he is building the future of his own company, Maladype, the next performance, Leonce and Lena, is coming, and he will first debut at the Opera Competition and Festival with Mezzo as a jury member and later as an opera director.

- What would have happened if you hadn't recovered?

- I don’t know. I would have done my best to not rely on others' help. These three months were difficult enough, I don’t wish this to anyone. Freedom has certain conditions, but if I can’t follow them, then I can’t live by my own rules, and then curiosity is over, which is probably the most important driving force of my personality. Maybe it became my habit over time, that I am obsessively looking for reasons, boundaries. Now, I can’t even imagine how it could be otherwise. But I must admit, I was lucky and I hope I will continue to be this way! I’ve never had to do a job I didn’t want to do.

- One of Treplyov’s key phrases is about new forms. These are also what you are looking for with the Maladype: than they either understand the result or they don’t...

- ...or they commit suicide. Treplyov realizes before, that it is not the new form that matters, but the need to write. I haven't just started searching for a new form, but I think, that those cans say with total certainty “yes, I know it now”, who was truly trying. Twenty years from now, I can no longer say “oh, it’s such a pity that I didn't try it out”. If I fail, I look for another way.

- Many are weak-hearted for this.

- This cannot be started at thirty years old. It’s like when America “broke in” and suddenly everyone was running around in jeans with coke. Our traditions and history cannot be integrated into a hundred-year culture. We will have an accent in everything: language, dress-up, behavior... I know exactly that I have an accent, but this is what gives me strength. I have lived in Transylvania for a long time, I am as much at home here as I am not.

- This doesn’t bother you?

- Of course, not! I was able to avoid a lot of authoritarianism, which has made several of my colleagues unable to work as freely as they would like to. My experiences show that you can be bolder. It is mandatory! Last year three directors had worked with Maladype in a workshop-like way: Claudio Collova, the director of the Palermo Theater, Árpád Schilling, the leader of Krétakör, and Sándor Zsótér with whom I’d previously directed Acropolis in the Maladype. I invite creators based on their taste and theatrical thinking who approach theater from a similar point of view, but by different means. I think this is what a company needs.

- You have to get by with very little money. What would you do if you received 50 million forints?

- I would be happy if we had even 30 million. I wouldn’t have constant compunction because of the time and energy, which I can’t financially compensate for the actors. This causes a constant internal conflict. I would spend it to ensure the members of the company a more comfortable way of living so that they can spend more time working. And I wouldn't be afraid that after I while I would have to accept something I don’t want to.

- Though, you were happy to accept the Opera Competition, I guess...

- Definitely. I was approached by the director of the Opera Competition, Ágnes Havas, who had already seen some of my prosaic performances. In these I consciously use operatic elements, I consider it important to interlock the two genres. I will be directing Marschner's opera, The Vampire, at the Rennes Opera House, which has not yet been performed in Hungary or France. It's very hard, it requires Wagnerian sounds and energy. At the end of January, the semi-final lasted for three days, where I found the four soloists for the four roles. I don’t think you can do theater today without opera, dance and film. And no matter how averse I am to traditional peephole theater; I desire to work in a classical set. I wonder if I can handle it. I’m testing my limits...

Zsófi Rick, Fidelio Sugó, 2009

Translation by Brigitta Erőss