Székely Gábor: Emigrants, 1979.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

The Polish author living in exile in France since 1963 wrote the play in 1974, the Hungarian premier took place in Veszprém on the 14th of January 1979. The premiere in the Nemzeti Színház was part the second, still transitional season with Székely Gábor and Zsámbéki Gábor as leading directors, and the main reason for...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

The play has a classical, closed structure. Two very different emigrants live together in a cellar room: AA is an intellectual who is likely to have emigrated for political reasons, and XX is a migrant worker, working abroad in the hope of earning more. The plot takes place on New Year’s Eve, while both of...

Direction

Székely Gábor doesn’t emphasise the absurd nature of the situation, his performance is primarily realist. Every little detail is developed until it is perfect, every situation is constructed with accuracy, emphasis is on the actors’ work, meaning that the director is avoiding direct effects, avoiding addressing the audience in asides. It builds a strict construct...

Acting

Both actors excel in depicting the diverse and ambivalent personalities of both characters. In Garas’s performance, it is impossible separate AA’s genuine, honest statements, and the armour-like persona he uses for defence and offense. Avar simultaneously demonstrates XX’s strength and weakness, his wisdom and ignorance, his convictions about the meaning of life and his mistaken...

Sight and Sound

In this period, Székely László was almost the permanent set designer of Székely Gábor. This is one of the reasons why very different performances shared similar elements of visual design. The space and the set, the lighting and atmosphere of Emigrants is quite similar to the Szolnok, then Budapest version of Boldogtalanok (Unhappy Ones) (1978,...

Impact and Posterity

Although some critics believed the performance would not interest many people, Székely Gábor’s direction was staged more than a hundred times. Once Székely and Zsámbéki left the Nemzetit and founded the Katona József Színház, the production was transferred to the latter’s repertoire with the exact same cast (the premier there: 21st of January, 1983), and...