Georgy Tovstonogov: The Government Inspector, 1973.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical culture

In 1973, at halftime of János Kádár’s regime The Government Inspector was staged by Georgy Tovstonogov at the National Theatre in Budapest as an example of the forced friendship between the Soviet and the Hungarian people. Although rehearsals had been rather strenuous for the whole cast, the première achieved enormous success and had a long-lasting...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

Focusing on the topicality of past dramatic forms with their deep and subtle relations to the present, Tovstonogov’s approach to Gogol was determined by an idea of the classic closer to Jauss than to T. S. Eliot or Gadamer. His reading broke and created a tradition at the same time when it tried to discover...

Direction

Having evolved for the Leningrad production and left unaltered in Budapest the mise-en-scène aimed at a subtle display of the interpretation of the dramatic text and was based on a clear-cut conception, not to say unique as regards the literary criticism and the theatre history of the play. Occasionally turning up as the corrupt officials’...

Acting

Tovstonogov followed Meyerhold in the development of acting but approached him from the late Stanislavski. Seeking adequate physical actions and charging them with sufficient emotions, he tried to stimulate the inner life of characters so as to help actors find their life on stage. Regarding words as a result of actions, he was searching for...

Sight and Sound

Scenery designed by Tovstonogov himself combined visual effects of naturalist staging with others shifting them into another context from time to time. The stage showed the Mayor’s two-storey home with a large parlour and a staircase leading to rooms above, all extravagantly furnished but sometimes hidden by sliding black walls so that new places could...

Impact and Posterity

Stating that such a smart and highly elaborated production had not been seen on Hungarian stages for long, reviews praised Tovstonogov’s mise-en-scène without exception. However, the significance of the production had been revealed in its aftermath as it started a dialogue between Government Inspectors in Hungary. Some critics found Péter Gothár’s 1982 mise-en-scène in Kaposvár...