Tünet Együttes I The Symptoms

„The Aim is to Dig So Deep Where We Can Find a Common Humanity”

One of the most innovative independent theater companies in Hungary, The Symptoms has been producing theater and dance performances since 2002. Their first documentary feature film, titled The Euphoria of Being, had its original debut in January 2019 and it will also be screened at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival.

The productions of The Symptoms are thought-provoking, dramatic and childishly liberated. The company’s repertoire reflects the emphasis they put on social engagement, hence it includes street performances, structured improvisation and interactive storytelling for children as well as an introductory program for high school students.

Receiving a number of international invitations, one of their most beloved productions is a duet entitled Sea Lavender, which tells the story of 93-years-old Holocaust-survivor Éva Fahidi, and the young dancer Emese Cuhorka. After nearly a hundred per formances, it is still played with a full house at the Comedy Theater’s studio stage. Director Réka Szabó, the leader of the troupe is preparing for the international premiere of her first documentary feature film, The Euphoria of Being, at the Locarno International Film Festival. The film presents the rehearsal process of the show.

“Every single production is a workshop with the actors, who I consider to be creative partners – their personal experiences, their unique and creative solutions are encouraged in a trusting and intimate environment. The aim is to dig so deep where we can find a common humanity – the fact that such a thing comes from a particular actor gives even more authenticity to the performance”, said Réka Szabó about the creative processes of the group.

The company is constantly searching for ways of reflecting on current issues from around the world as well as new artistic and educational methods to constructively present their views, provoke thoughts and influence their audiences.

One of their shows entitled You Trash! – Big Cleaning in the Big Outdoors, with a Big Scum Band is especially unconventional. The performance consists of a series of funny/ startling actions of a junk squad that pop up at various locations in public spaces, targeting unsuspecting passers-by and prompting them to react.

They are also the first theater company in the country to work with an educational institution, the Department of Decision Theory at the Corvinus University of Budapest, to produce various works of art from research conducted by the university. Together with professors and researchers, they first created a team-building adventure game based on the results of a survey entitled What will the company of the future be like?, and now they are developing a fictional story that can be a play or a movie series. This cooperation introduced both parties to a different way of thinking and, after joining forces, their opportunities multiplied.

“Both sides are very motivated and grateful – we share expertise and creativity. The main focus is not on the climate, but whether there is a country, a company or a community that is intelligent enough to exist and to produce goods with more transparent and cooperative systems, without destruction. Economists deal with the system, we deal with the people. We consider this issue important because change is inevitable, but it is difficult not only for the system but also for the people in it”, said director Péter Valcz.

The two main actors of the collaboration, economist Alexandra Köves and director Péter Valcz, are doing their best to reach the widest possible audience with the messages that were formulated during the research.

The Symptoms are prepared to continue producing a number of socially relevant projects in the upcoming years. This fall, they are going to perform their play entitled Nookville – Act out a fairytale with us! in Ózd to disadvantaged kindergarten-age children who have never been to the theater. They will also teach classes for kindergarten teachers to inspire ideas on how to play motion-based theater games that encourage collaboration and open up attention to non-verbal communication signals and self-expression. The company wants to continue this program and reach as many children as possible.

by Anita Sinkovicz
photo: Csaba Mészáros

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