Top Pick: European hopes meet on Slovak stage

BROTHERS István and János Mohácsi have bombed two Hungarian cities, and are heading to the southern Slovak town of Nitra with the same intention.
Only figuratively, of course, for the two men are not pilots but theatre directors. Inspired by Joseph Heller's war-tragicomedy We Bombed in New Haven, the two Hungarian innovators have created a modern parody on army life, adapting Heller's original play to the central European environment.
The version they bring to Slovakia following its premiere in Hungary, We Bombed in Nitra, reflects local realities and (contrary to its destructive title) opens the 11th annual Nitra Theatre Festival at 17:00 on September 20.


NORWEGIANS eat selves to death.
photo: Courtesy of Divadelná Nitra

BROTHERS István and János Mohácsi have bombed two Hungarian cities, and are heading to the southern Slovak town of Nitra with the same intention.

Only figuratively, of course, for the two men are not pilots but theatre directors. Inspired by Joseph Heller's war-tragicomedy We Bombed in New Haven, the two Hungarian innovators have created a modern parody on army life, adapting Heller's original play to the central European environment.

The version they bring to Slovakia following its premiere in Hungary, We Bombed in Nitra, reflects local realities and (contrary to its destructive title) opens the 11th annual Nitra Theatre Festival at 17:00 on September 20.

The play, along with 13 others that will be staged by theatres from nine different countries over six days, gives a clue to the festival's change in overall direction. While previous years have focused on staging original classics, recent annuals have concentrated on introducing contemporary drama developing across Europe.

"The festival is aimed at non-conventional, aspiring and inspiring theatre. It's mainly the younger generation of progressive and prospective authors - those who are just being discovered by Europe - who arouse interest," says Juraj Gerbery, the festival's spokesman.

While works by classic playwrights have inspired some plays, personal experiences or feelings have played roles in others. But all performances are "a synthesis of unique texts, specific approaches by directors, highly aesthetic stage settings and convincing staging", says Gerbery, who adds the best works include the Polish play Cleansed, the Russian Plasticine and the Slovak Closer.

Written by the British dramatist Sarah Kane, the Polish-directed Cleansed is a cry for love in a ruthless world.

Plasticine offers a picture of socially and morally devastated Russia, while The Closer, a joint project between a British director and Slovak actors, is a tragicomedy peering into the lives of a stripper, a photographer, a journalist and a doctor.

Following its young tradition, the festival will introduce the work of two new countries to the Nitra stage: that of the Israeli Inbal Pinto Dance Company and that of Norway's largest theatre, Det Norske Teatre.

While the Israeli dancers will entertain the audience in their Oyster performance, the Norwegians promise to sicken as well as stun their viewers with four men who systematically eat themselves to death in Stuffed, a play inspired by the provocative Marco Ferreri movie La Grande Bouffe (The Big Feast).

Director Yngve Sundvor, after attacking Norway with this dramatic onslaught, aims his moral guns at Slovakia.

The Nitra Theatre Festival runs from September 20 to 25 at local Nitra theatres. For more information visit www.nitrafest.sk or call 037/6524-870.

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