Marton Endre: Chapters on Lenin, 1970.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

The Nemzeti performance honouring the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth made an icon of the public sphere out of the image that was created with iconoclastic intent during the sixties by leftist thinkers and non-mainstream theatrical workshops. One of the manifold precedessors of the 1970 performance was the author’s previous play Szerelmem, Elektra (My Love,...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

Chapters on Lenin is merely a stage in many years of preoccupation with the ‘ur-father’, and it is strongly connected to the popular genre of the sixties, the documentary drama, diverging somewhat from its form known in Hungary. While Gyurkó emphasised that his work wasn’t ‘the type of documentary drama that, say, Peter Weiss makes’,...

Direction

According to Derrida’s concept of ‘theological stage’, Gyurkó referred to theatre as ‘pulpit’, and Marton Endre concentrated on ‘finding the exceptional style for this exceptional work, that faithfully adheres to the intent and the content’. Therefore he didn’t join the wave of political theatre originating from 1920ies German experiments, and gaining speed in the 1950ies-60ies:...

Acting

In this performance, there wasn’t a single actor appointed to each name in Gyurkó’s work (as there would be in a play), but they divided lines belonging to the same name between multiple actors, so that it became impossible to identify, or identify with, the characters. In the first chapter, the text is merely selections...

Sight and Sound

Marton Endre stated that space is of the utmost importance, since, – as he explained to his actors on the first read-through – ‘we’ve talked a lot about oratories and documentary dramas before, and there were some interesting experiments. Most problems surfaced when these modern elements were placed in a conventional theatrical space. Our task...

Impact and posterity

After the official premier on the 21st of April 1970, the Nemzeti played Chapters 30 times, including morning matinees, until the 5th of May, then put it on repertoire, and even renewed it in 1980, for the 110th anniversary of Lenin’s birth. (Marton was no longer alive at that point, the renewal was directed by...