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.”
Photos of the event:
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.
Sponsors of the event:
Independent Theater Hungary
Rodrigó Balogh, artistic director
Márton Illés, programme manager