THE MANAGEMENT of the Slovak National Theatre (SND), just like the Burgtheater of Vienna, turned down the invitation of its Hungarian counterpart in Budapest to attend an international theatre festival, MITEM, the Sme daily reported on February 5.

The head of the SND drama section Roman Polák made it clear that he declined the invitation for political reasons, the Sme daily reported. He however invited the Hungarian national theatre to the Visegrad Group countries summer festival organised by the SND, saying he would prefer to meet his Hungarian counterpart, Attila Vidnyánszky, in Slovakia.

Vidnyánszky is alleged to have political links with the current Hungarian government of Viktor Orbán. He took the post of the Budapest National Theatre director after his predecessor, respected theatre director Róbert Alföldi, was dismissed, Sme wrote. Previouslz, Vidnyánszky served as the head of the theatre of Debreczen. He is known for his statements that the national theatre has always been sustained only by the political right, the currently ruling Fidesz party.

The festival in question, to take place in late March - early April 2014, received a grant of Ft200 million from the Hungarian government. It will host theatres from 12 countries. Vidnyánszky said he was surprised that the SND declined his invitation, as he was planning to highlight the Slovak theatre and its piece by Sándor Márai, Ashes and Passion, directed by Polák.

Polák did not comment for Sme on his decision to turn down the invitation.

Previous objections against the head of the Hungarian National Theatre were voiced mainly by Austrians. In February last year the Burgtheater’s director, Matthias Hartmann, was one of a group of six left-wing Austrian artists who sent open letters to Zoltán Balog, the Hungarian Minister of Human Resources, criticising the government’s cultural policies and voicing their concern about artistic freedom being in danger in Hungary, the Magyar Nemzet daily wrote, as cited by the Budapost website.

Hartmann was then received by the minister, in the company of Attila Vidnyánszky, the newly appointed director of the Hungarian National Theatre, who told him that he was mistaken in his belief that anti-Semitic discourse was permitted in Hungary or that experimental theatres were being deprived of public funding.

Source: Sme,

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.