Kerényi Imre: Mystery Play at Csíksomlyó, 1981.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

Based on the tradition of Good Friday mystery plays at Csíksomlyó, Ruszt Jószef and Katona Imre created a performance titled Passió magyar versekben (Mystery Play in Hungarian Rhymes), first in 1971 with Universitas, then in 1977 and 1990, with Független Színpad. The performances before the change of regime were dominated by subtextual allusions to show...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

The text of the Mystery Play by Balogh Elemér and Kerényi Imre (just like the Ruszt-Katona adaptation) is based on the four mystery plays from Csíksomlyó, edited and published by Fülöp Árpád, (1751, 1752, 1759, 1766) combining them, adding excerpts from the A magyar népzene tára (Jeles napok) (Collection of Hungarian Folk Music – High...

Direction

Kerényi’s direction (in a fertile anachronism of various linguistic and theatrical layers) illustrates the story of salvation through a multiple metaphor: the actors take on the roles of a village community, that is in turn acting out the Good Friday mystery play. One of the reviewers summarises: ‘In naïve art, the people of Moses and...

Acting

While the ensemble is performing the mystery play, they are representing pure, naïve folk spirituality, and act out the dramatic text that inherently lacks individual personalisation, and uses broader character types, by turning it into an illustration of Biblical stories. However, the variety in theatrical language doesn’t only demand excellent dancing and singing skills, but...

Sight and Sound

Götz Béla’s set centres a monumental church steeple, similar to a stylised Transylvanin wooden gate to allude to the origins of the play, and to give the stage a vertical structure, the threeway split of Medieval plays (into heaven, earth and hell). Deus Pater, the angels Michael and Gabriel watch the earthly events from the...

Impact and posterity

‘[…] in professional Budapest theatres, for the first time the valid, contemporary stage version of those amazing texts is born, which deserves to be part or all repertoires like national classics such as Bánk Bán, Csongor és Tünde and Az Ember Tragédiája’ states an 1981 review. Mystery Play at Csíksomlyó was played more than four...