Provoked - Interview with Artúr Kálid / 2007

We had a conversation with the member of Maladype - Theater of Encounters and Bárka Theater a few days after their last performance of Hölderlin’s drama Empedocles.

- You have been playing in Maladype for four years. How did the relationship begin?

- Then, in 2003, I was just living my own little life as a freelancer and was basically satisfied. Or at least I didn’t have a particularly big sense of lack in me - but I wouldn’t say I was immeasurably given better-than-good tasks. I didn’t even know Maladype at the time; I heard there was such a team, but I did not see their performances. When they had been working on their next performance, at the School for Fools, for more than a month, one of the members of the company, Árpí Bogdán left and they had to replace him somehow. And so to tell, Maladype basically, started out as a theater of “ethnics”- so to bring different cultures together was one of its driving forces, and there were mostly gypsy actors in the team. So somehow it came into the mind of Balázs Dévai that I was half-blooded and that they should ask me.

We were sitting in a corner at the University of Theatre and Film with Zoli Balázs, the artistic director of Maladype. As he was speaking about the School for Fools, I didn’t understand anything, I just felt like there was this director raging with incredible energies who seemed to believe frantically in what he was doing. And I just sat there and told him fine, let’s give it a try.

- And you tried.

- Yes. I joined this team - most of those back then are still here - and we began getting to know each other. What was incredibly new to me was how loose, frivolous, concise, and honest the communication between each other was. I really liked it, even at first, even before I could see what their theatrical way of working was like, what was happening on stage at all. This community made me incredibly happy: I always thought there was such a thing, I just didn’t know where. By then, I no longer believed in the concept of permanent theater. Based on my past experience, I thought it was a forced formation: there is a leader who contracts people, and then they say of themselves that they are a company - although this is rarely true in the strict sense of the word.

- Is it why you left Víg Theater?

- Among other things, yes. But I don’t like to, I don’t want to say bad things about Víg - I’ve had very good years there and I love a lot of people from there to this day. Otherwise, this is just one slice of why I left. Another very important reason: I had a feeling that I wasn’t developing at the right pace, I’m not provoked enough, I’m not being given strong challenges. And I felt like I was still too young to become sloppy.

- At its beginnings Maladype was founded to promote minority culture, and as you said, you were approached because you are half-blooded. Exclusion, the feeling of being different pops up in all of the company’s performances - what does that mean to you?

- This is not an easy question to answer. I was always told " you are not excluded, you are not discriminated against." And I always said that, yes I am - because it was rare, like a white raven, for someone to give me the role of Tristan, who is a Germanic hero, or Adam, who is the protagonist of our Hungarian national tragedy. And then of course when I played these, there was no one who would even think about, that I was half-blooded. Because that’s not the point on stage anymore, but whether I can convince the audience that I had to play this. If that doesn't work, it doesn't matter anyway.

Ever since I’ve been a member of Maladype, it’s not a question at all, whether I can play a role. However the "memorandum of association" did include the aim of showing what being different means, to protest, and so on,- it would be a shame to pretend that Maladype had undertaken some great mission with it. The world is somehow composed this way, and the pieces are one way or another, but they are about stories like this. For example, in The Tempest that we are rehearsing now, there are people excommunicated by the city, and there are those who are not. It is an integral part of life.

But back to my case, Empedocles was a huge challenge in every way. (According to the original idea, László Sinkó would have played the lead role, and I would have been his student, Pausanias.) Having been felt different and secluded helped me so much to formulate who is this character, who in such a way isn’t understood, and that’s why he’s just getting away, and away and away, sitting in the corner like a big brown spider saying, “you don’t notice, you don’t see, you don’t understand that’s not the point!" Somehow it resonates with my life so far.

- Next to Bárka, you are playing in two performances of Víg Theatre, in The Attic, and in Square dance, while you are also playing in Vidám Stage’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and in The Incomplete Works of William Shakespeare. So your freelancer life is over?

- I gave up freelancing for Maladype. I wouldn't have believed that before. I became used to that lifestyle, I’ve been a freelancer since 1995, I had my vacation, I had a new job or two every year, and I was fine like this. The most important of this is the word "freedom" - it defines my whole being. If I’m confined, If I’m regulated, I start to feel bad, and the longer it takes, the more I feel bad ...

- You said one of your problems with Víg was that you couldn’t really improve, you weren’t provoked. Does Maladype provoke you?

- In Maladype, perhaps one of the most important things to learn is how you can communicate with others on stage - and for a very long time I was just looking for what the real, really frenzy-free communication means. Here it is very important what impulses we receive and what we give to each other. I would call this a kind of learning that is actually a process of cleansing, of clearing - to walk with eyes, ears, and heart open in the world, and all that I see and hear I should incorporate into my performance.

- How is summer passing?

- I have just come home from Debrecen, a festival called Summer Theater Evenings, where they usually invite music comedies - that's how The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) happened to get there. I was very excited about it, but it was a huge success. The reception was amazing - we played twice in front of a crowded house, and one night as I was walking home, a young man ran out of a pub, ran after me, and asked me to join their company. He sat me down at their table, then analyzed for hours what the piece is about. So it was very good in Debrecen. In July, we will also play The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and the Midsummer Night's Dream with the Bárka at the Shakespeare Festival in Gyula.

- What you also presented at POSZT.

- Yes, and its result is known. We didn’t get a single award for it - but we were able to bring the love of the audience home. And the other half of the industry - not the one that gives the awards - really liked it, we also got some "alternative awards" for it. The day after the performances, there is always a discussion in which the jury and anyone who is interested can take part - from the dramaturgs sides Zsuzsa Faragó was here, and from the critics half György Karsai, Judit Csáki talked about the performance in superlatives, and Alföldi was chosen as the best director, Robi Kardos received the award for the Best Male Leading Role, and Kata Fekete was awarded for Best Costume. These awards made us feel very good.

Bálint Kovács, Magyar Narancs, 2007

Translation by Zsuzsanna Juraszek