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Roma Heroes International Theater Festival, Sixth Edition

by California Digital News

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Independent Theater Hungary presents the Roma Heroes International Theater Festival, Sixth Edition, livestreaming on the commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv from Wednesday 20 March to Wednesday 27 March 2024 at 10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

At the VI. Roma Heroes International Theatre Festival the Independent Theater Hungary had the opportunity to get to know untold stories of generations through the productions of five different Roma theaters. Italian, Swedish, Romanian, and Hungarian creators draw from their own experiences to present the less-known aspects of European history.

Continuing the tradition of the European Union’s first international Roma theatre encounter, the sixth edition of the Roma Heroes International Theatre Festival took place in Budapest from 27 November to 3 December. The festival program, which combines different art forms—music, literature, and performing arts—is for all those who go to the theatre to get to know new worlds and question their own usual points of view.

Wednesday 20 March

Live performer with a projected image behind them.

Giuvlipen: Viral on Tiktok
(Romania)
10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

In the performance by Giuvlipen Theater Company, we witness a deeply moving overview of the lack of sexual education affecting Romanian society, particularly the Roma communities, and its tangible societal consequences. TikTok, as the currently most popular social media platform, provides an excellent framework for the play. The production, navigating at borders of various genres, portrays the life of two teenage girls discussing the contradictions surrounding female sexuality, the abuses associated with the myth of virginity, the traps of oversexualized beauty ideals, or the sins committed by religion and forced marriages against women.

Writer and Director: Mihaela Drăgan
Cast: Nicoleta Ghiță, Bianca Mihai
Music: Andrei Horjea
Choreography: Răzvan Rotaru, Corina Platon
Set Design: Ileana Zirra
Costume Design: Zita Moldovan
Photo: Amalia Drăniceanu

Thursday 21 March

Two stage actors sit in front of a projected image.

Independent Theater Hungary: Rotting Birds
(Hungary)
10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

The tearful-laughing punk opera written and directed by Rodrigó Balogh is based on a true story, focusing on the forgotten Roma author, József Holdosi. Imre, the grandfather, sues his grandson, József. The grandfather believes that József has offended him, his deceased relatives, and his current wife in his novel. His social relationships have suffered, his personality has been damaged, and he even contracted a fatal illness due to the content of the book in question. According to József, the novel is only fiction, a figment of his imagination. Who is right? The performance reveals the story of a family torn apart by generational curses. Is there a limit to creative freedom? What effects can be triggered in our families and communities, if we dare to talk about the ugly stuff?

Writer and Director: Rodrigó Balogh 
Cast: Dávid Varga, Orsolya Balogh 
Dramaturg: Tímea Éva Bogya 
Music: Dávid Varga 
Music Collaborator: István Babindák 
Set: Péter Gyenei 
Photo: Zsófia Sivák

Friday 22 March

Two actors speak to each other.

Independent Theater Hungary: Builders of a Country
(Hungary)
10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

Although many see the majority of Roma people as unemployed, Roma workers have always played an important role in building houses. A long time ago whole generations of Roma built houses from mud bricks. In the 20th century many Roma started working in brick factories. Today many Roma work in the construction industry.

The performance written and directed by Rodrigó Balogh and Márton Illés narrates the societal changes in socialist and later free Hungary through the struggles of three generations. It celebrates the unseen builders of Hungarian history. The production is inspired by real events and individuals, but leaves plenty of room for imagination. What can a Roma people keep and what must they give up to find their place among the majority? How do the many sacrifices affect their family and personal relationships?

Writer and Director: Rodrigó Balogh and Márton Illés
Cast: Dávid Csányi, Ramóna Farkas, Nóra Nemcsók, Tamás Szegedi
Dramaturg: Tímea Éva Bogya 
Music: Dávid Varga and István Babindák
Set: Péter Gyenei
Photo: Zsófia Sivák

Photo: Amalia Drăniceanu

Monday 25 March

Three actors each sit on a chair on stage.

Rampa Prenestina: Romnia
(Italy)
10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

In the performance titled “Romnia” by the Italian Rampa Prenestina Company, the societal roles of Roma and non-Roma women take center stage. At the heart of the story stands the statue of Saint Sarah, which the inhabitants of the small community depicted on stage are required to dress and prepare for a traditional procession. During the ceremony, personal stories come to life, where the statue becomes a mirror of dreams and the experiences of social pressures for the female members from different generations. It is a celebration in which rituals of love, expectations, and the transformation or preservation of identity are revealed. When the procession reaches its end, the statue becomes sacred, and a collective prayer for freedom is recited.

Adaptatated and directed by: Nino Racco
Music: Sebastian Spinella
Cast: Demila Durmis, Roxana Ene, Catherine Di Carlo Campaz, Erik Nikolic, Sebastian Spinella
Photo: Amalia Drăniceanu

Wednesday 27 March

A group of actors acting on stage.

Heart Voice Company: Great Expectations
(Hungary)
10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

The performance by the Heart Voices Company was created in collaboration with Parfórum, Sajátszínház, Szomolyai Hungarian Roma Association, and the Emma Association, with the guidance of sociodrama leaders Eszter Pados and Kata Horváth. The creative process was preceded by comprehensive research focused on abuses related to sexism and racism experienced by Roma women, mothers, healthcare workers, and institutional systems revolving around female existence and motherhood. What we see on stage is nothing but the stories and experiences of different generations in the real world.

Director: Edit Romankovics
Sociodrama Leaders: Eszter Pados and Kata Horváth
Cast: Báder Renáta, Csörgőné Polgár Andrea, Horváth Barbara, Horváth Rita, Horváth Róbert, Horváth Zsanett, Juhacsek Ildikó, Kádár Szonja, Kárpáti Liza, Lakatos Anett, Lakatos Marianna, Lakatos Rudolf, Szabó Róza, Szitai Natália
Set Design: Gabriella Kiss
Photo: Gabriella Csoszó

Wednesday 27 March

An actor gestures with their arms as they speak into a microphone.

Lindy Larsson & The BonBon Band: Tschandala/Tattaren
(Sweden)
10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. PDT (Los Angeles, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 18:00 GMT (London, UTC +1) / 19:00 CET (Budapest, UTC +1) / 20:00 EET (Bucharest, UTC +2).

The  Swedish award-winning actor, singer and Roma activist artist Lindy Larsson, along with the multi-award-winning BonBon Band, explores an undisclosed part of Swedish history in their joint performance titled Tschandala/Tattaren. The production, which recently won the Swedish Critics’ Award, delves into various genres. The foundation of the show is August Strindberg’s anti-Roma novel “Tschandala,” as well as Larsson’s personal and familial history. The artist himself hails from a Swedish traveling Roma family, who experienced unimaginable atrocities against the Roma in Sweden, which have never found their way into history books.

Writer: Lindy Larsson, Stefan Fross, August Strindberg
Directed by Lindy Larsson
Performer: Lindy Larsson
Music: Bon Bon Band
Design: Delaine Le Bas, Stefan Forss
Photo: Per Bolkert

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