Székely Gábor: Danton’s Death, 1978.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

Danton’s Death is the introductory piece of a deliberately articulated artistic program: the artistic debut of two directors arriving in the Nemzeti Színház in 1978, Székely Gábor and Zsámbéki Gábor. Unlike the leader of the theatre, Nagy Péter, who was appointed in the same year – who believed that the primary goal of the theatre...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

During the adaptation to the stage, multiple small change were made to the Büchner text published in 1955 by the Új Magyar Könyvkiadó, translated by Kosztolányi Dezső. The director was ‘rather casual with the play, reorganised scenes, combined characters, gave one character’s lines to another’, yet the text translated by Kosztolányi was ‘spoken almost in...

Direction

In the performance, Danton (Kállai Ferenc) and Robespierre (Kálmán György) betray one another, in the Nemzeti, Major Tamás and Marton Endre, as leaders and directors, do the same. The tension between Major and Marton was constant, leading to a rift in the Nemzeti’s ensemble, therefore in Danton Székely also depicted the contemporary conflicts within the...

Acting

The play requires a large number of actors, and Székely used almost the entire ensemble in a text about revolution in a revolutionary context, about justice turning into dictatorship, in a dictatorship. Kállai Ferenc in the role of the titular character and Kálmán György who played Robespierre were reviewed positively, ‘they showed a new side...

Sight and Sound

Székely László created the set for Danton as a guest artist, the designer of Székely’s directions in Szolnok, and reviews consistently approved of his work, the organic whole of the set, the lighting and the movements. The reconstruction of the on-stage visuals are hindered by the lack of sources, or their low volume. According to...

Impact and Posterity

The new and old members of the Nemzeti ensemble ‘made this premier memorable. The accusation was levelled immediately – Keresztury Dezső was the most forceful –, that these new leaders will be insufficiently patriotic, since they did not open with a Hungarian play.’ After the premier, the frequency of double meanings and the direct allusions...