The one and only international Roma theatre festival in Budapest has closed

Press release
Between 24-27 May 2018, Independent Theatre Hungary organized the second “Roma Heroes” international storytelling festival in Stúdió K Theatre. The special cultural event drew attention to the values of Roma drama and storytelling as well as the situation of Roma communities by presenting eight contemporary European plays, putting example-setting lives and extraordinary challenges into the spotlight. 
The international Roma theatre gathering in Budapest focused on personal storytelling. The program of the four-day-long festival concentrated on Roma heroes who are able to initiate changes in their own lives and in their communities. The protagonists’ active behaviour stays with us after the show and makes us think about the story.
The performances of the Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Romanian, British, Irish and Hungarian artists were diverse, not only geographically speaking, but also in style and topic. Black irony, childlike purity, manifesto-rigour or surreal images – all were present. There were plays which not only urged the spectators to think and feel with the character but also to move their bodies. Sonia Carmona presented female heroes opposing the communist and the Franco-regime in the 20th century, Richard O’Neill told about a teacher threatened by his boss, Michael Collins shared the challenges of Irish travellers through his own experiences, Alex Fifea unveiled the story of a man killed by the police, Natalia Tsekova staged a woman first trying to get rid of and later becoming proud of her own identity. Franciska Farkas, also starring in several films, made a harshly honest confession about her own life, just as Sebastian Spinella, who ended up at storytelling coming from the world of circus and music. The festival organizer Independent Theater presented a show about a supergirl, starring Emília Lovas and directed by Tamás Szegedi, written from the stories of the Roma youngsters who participated at the workshops based on the plays of the last year festival.
“This event provided an opportunity for the Gypsy communities, theatre professionals, the academic and civil sector and the general public to meet. After each show, a conversation was organized which gave place to meaningful discussions”- said Rodrigó Balogh, artistic director of the festival - “It is vital that the plays showed the world we live in from different perspectives: Gypsy artists are just as diverse as the members of any other social group. The performances were also recorded on video which will help numerous youngsters to learn about the values of Roma drama and share their own hero-stories in the frame of workshops and university courses.”
Christopher Machin, American Cultural Attaché, who opened the festival, and Pat Kelly, Irish Ambassador, who closed the event, agreed with the performers that storytelling has an immense power which can bring the different social groups closer to each other.

Further information
Sponsors of the event:
Independent Theater Hungary
Rodrigó Balogh, artistic director
Márton Illés, programme manager

It’s a cultural thing. Or is it?

Hungarian premiere at
Roma Heroes – 2nd International Roma Storytelling Festival
 Sunday, 27th May 2018. 8:30 p.m.

“We were living in the woody crossroads, we had an old wagon and tent and we had an old mare too. I remember me and Johnny me mommy put two dresses on us and tied us to the wattles of the tent cause she was afraid that we would get hurt or knocked down by a car. So she tied us to the wattles and this guard came on one day on his big black bike and said good evening to ya missus Collins. She explained to the guard that she had to get sticks and water and there was no one on the road to mind us cause we were all young and me daddy was gone hunting through the field. The guard took off his hat scratched his head and said untie the children Mrs Collins and went off on his big black bike. He came back with a big bundle of sticks and went off again and came back with a big churn can of water. I remember saying to me mommy one day I said I could understand you trying us to the wattles but what was the idea of putting to girls dresses on two boys?”

The Irish Traveller artist talks with his own daughter who wants to leave school. To convince her, he recalls childhood memories and through these sometimes funny, sometimes hard stories shows her daughter the importance of education.

written by Michael Collins
starring Michael Collins and Catharine Collins

In English language with Hungarian subtitles.
After the performance, the artists will be in conversation.

Let me tell you a story / Letter to Brad

World premiere at Roma Heroes –
2nd International Roma Storytelling Festival

Saturday, 26th May 2018, 8:30 p.m., Studio K Theatre
Photo by Zoltán Miklóska

“How did you read the masterpieces of world literature as a Roma?” “Brown and hot-tempered.”

“How do you live your everyday as a Roma” “I stink and steal food”
“What do Roma people think about this question?” “Nothing, they are too stupid to think at all. But I’ll ask every one of them.”
“Are you playing a Roma character in your current work?” “Yes, as I always do. Actually it doesn’t matter if that’s me or another Gypsy girl. They caught one as you catch a rat. Go out and catch one. One is as good as another. We are like animals.”

A member of Knowlidge 6 Power group makes a brutally honest confession about the challenges of her youth and childhood. Despite all the possible dead-ends, misery and social prophecies, she has reached a point in her life when she is a role model for others. She became an active performing artist who has a lot to tell about darkness, endurance and never giving up.

starring Franciska Farkas
written by Kristóf Horváth
directed by Ádám Császi

In Hungarian language with English subtitles
After the performance, the artists will be in conversation.