Major Tamás: The Lusitanian Bogey, 1970.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

In 1962 the political elite removed the burden of the directorship of National Theatre from the shoulders of Tamás Major, the parliamentary representative of Hungarian theatre arts. Nevertheless, he continued to determine the artistic conception of the theatre with his French-chic aesthetic sense, his comprehensive and up to date theoretical knowledge, and his imperturbable political...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

The Lusitanian Bogey (or Monster, in the Hungarian version) describes the colonial atrocities of the Portuguese and the dire plight of the defenceless natives in didactic exchange of dialogs and songs. Peter Weiss’s text was published in Nagyvilág, November 1967, under the title A luzitán madárijesztő [The Lusitanian Scarecrow] in the translation of Garai Gábor....

Direction

The cause of the play’s instant success lay in its genre, that was unexpected in National Theatre, and strange, even in its form, to the political-ideological concept of the leading theatre’s canon. It followed both from Tamás Major’s cultural-political status and Peter Weiss’ reputation as a devoted leftist thinker, that such a strong version of...

Acting

The title character of the performance is a gigantic monster, stitched together from surplus sackcloth pieces by the players in the opening scene. The monster resembles a grotesquely swollen, huge sphere with distorted facial features: based on the creative credo of Weiss and the somewhat normatively orientating program guide the spectators are supposed to identify...

Sight and Sound

The concept and form of the performance requires empty space, and the intentionally strange mobility of the space turned the audible tempo into a visible pulsing. Ilona Keserű, who designed the stage, the costume and puppetry, was a well-known representative of the neo-avant-garde artists’ generation, a member of the IPARTERV group. This soft duality of...

Impact and posterity

The immediate impact of the performance is very strong, as it is measurable on the critical reactions. The company of the National Theatre needs renewal and refreshment, the kind of intellectual and artistic excitement that stems from the ideological expectations of political power, yet fulfils the desires of the youngest, most dynamic part of the...