Zsámbéki Gábor: The Kitchen, 1979.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

Babarczy László introduced Arnold Wesker’s play The Kitchen to Hungarian audiences in 1975 at Kaposvár. While that performance appeared as an attempt to realise detailed stage realism, Zsámbéki Gábor’s 1979 direction in the Nemzeti was the introduction of a new understanding of theatre, on a national level. In the 1978/79 season, the first after Marton...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

Wesker’s play has an unconventional structure, the work of the kitchen and the demands of the restaurant dictate the rhythm of the text. Some of the characters are especially important, but there is no main role, or a main plotline. The instructions describing the life of the kitchen, and the off-stage events, are integral parts...

Direction

Since even the most intimate scenes have five or six of the thirty characters on stage, the most important characteristic of the direction is simultaneity of actions, and their choreographed nature. The performance treats the background conflicts gradually emerging from fragmented events and information with an objective distance, not attempting to involve the audience emotionally...

Acting

Zsámbéki’s starting assumption was that The Kitchen is especially well-suited to creating a cooperative ensemble in the Nemzeti, since just like the employees have to depend on one another in a kitchen, scenes like the plating sequence cannot be completed if a single person makes a mistake. Creating The Kitchen requires precise ‘teamwork.’ Nevertheless, reviewers...

Sight and Sound

The set of Csányi Árpád (one of Major Tamás’s habitual designers) interprets the performance’s context. His kitchen is specific, filled with naturalistic details; wear and tear, pipes, cables adorn it. And yet it could be anywhere in the world. The space and the performance are articulating a Brechtian statement: the difference is between the restaurant’s...

Impact and posterity

Major Tamás, who originally played Mr. Marango the restaurant owner, at one point in the performance makes a broad gesture around the kitchen: ‘everything here belongs to me.’ He wanted to scold the rebellious youths, but the situation escalated into destroying the kitchen: this doesn’t just communicate the internal relations within Nemzeti Színház, but also...