Major Tamás: Searching for the Key, 1977.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical culture

By the late seventies, the stage presence of Hungarian plays strengthens the notion, and the illusion, of national self-determination. From the compulsory three-way split of the repertoire between Soviet texts, Hungarian texts and literary classics, the last two decades push the emphasis onto Hungarian texts, and thus begins a surprisingly abundant era of Hungarian playwriting....

Dramatic text, dramaturgy

The first premier of Örkény’s play was on Szolnok, on the 15th of November 1975, directed by Székely Gábor. They toured with the performance, visited Dunaújváros, the Szigethalmi House of Culture, and they were successful everywhere, the audience laughed and applauded, because they understood the Socialist cabaret aspect of the comedy, as Hofi Géza’s stand-up...

Direction

The performance uses small but constant changes to make the search for the key more rapid and animated. Major Tamás is a master of the recognisable and interpretable field of theatrical relationships, and the Nemzeti performance speaks this language, pushing Örkény’ absurd in the same direction in 1977. Major doesn’t make ‘bourgeois’ theatre like the...

Acting

Major called his technique ‘mirror-theatre’, where ‘human behaviours are modelled throughout the performance, without breaks, nobody can relax for even a second.’ This mode of acting in 1977 in the Nemzeti already meant a strengthening of teamwork and cooperation. This performance too built on the theatre’s star actress, Major’s actor, Törőcsik Mari. The opening scene...

Sight and Sound

The set is a gigantic wall facing the audience, stretching from one side of the stage to the other, like an accordion or a straightened paper lamp, with the segments larger in the middle and increasingly smaller in either direction. The wall follows the regular and monotonous rhythm of plattenbau windows, but with an abstract...

Impact and Posterity

The performance connects to other Örkény premiers in the sense that Örkény’s audience can only interpret the performance with Örkény’s own words. This self-interpretation suggests that the play should be connected to the genres of grotesque and absurd, to the act of turning the vantage point upside down. Contemporary reviewers writing about Örkény can’t find...