Gaál Erzsébet: Medea, 1996.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

Wherever Gaál Erzsébet directs, she organises her questions around the functioning of female communities. In 1996, she wasn’t a feminist or a revolutionary, but a thinking woman who formed a community within, and through the performance. Since the 1984 work Felütés, she uses civilian ‘found phrases’, stories and spaces to form a context. Her life...

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

Gaál Erzsébet played Medea by Euripides together with Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, in a single evening production. The final text of the performance became more concise due to interpretative cuts, and many things were edited out if they were outside the comprehensible linguistic and cultural context. Also, the differences between Euripides’ and Seneca’s interpretation of...

Direction

The type of realistic action that takes place in a non-realistic context is a unique feature of Gaál’s art. The realisation runs through the performance: the context might be unfamiliar, but human language and communication remain realistic. People talk to people. The performance emphasises Medea’s statement, and turns it into an evaluation of life: ‘I...

Acting

Gaál mixed the Nemzeti ensemble with the students of the Nemzeti’s Acting Academy. Gaál has been teaching there, leading a class since 1996, she’s developing her scholastic program of actor training at this time. At the same time, she recognised that the actors of Nemzeti Színház were working with realistic acting tools in a traditional...

Sight and Sound

Gaál is directing a ‘prose opera’. The sound is made rhythmic by the hexameters, the emerging beat, the way actors sink into and rise above the rhythm, accompanied by a jazzy musical backdrop. The Chorus’s recitation evokes the atmosphere of the labour movement’s ‘spoken choirs’, the sound is that of the amateur proletariat, not the...

Impact and posterity

The performance, just like Gaál’s entire oeuvre, was followed by an indifferent, even insulted shrug on the critics’ part. As a woman, as a supposedly avant-garde creator, as an actor all her artistic output is attractive, but we lack both the language to evaluate it, and the audience expectations to appreciate it. Her interpretation of...