It is only a few weeks ago that the first module of the 5th edition of the Reflex International Theatre Festival ended, and from Monday tickets go on sale for the next one, which will be organised by the Tamási Áron Theatre in Sfântu Gheorghe from 21st to 26th May. This module will focus on social issues, but will be counterbalanced by a production that explores the deepest, most ancient roots of the relationship between man and nature.
In a way, the second module of Reflex5 can be seen as a cultural anthropological survey, using theatre to trace the journey of man from his primordial existence in nature and his instinctive manifestations to the social framework of today and its distortion by various interests, paying particular attention to the social situation of women and the little man, to corruption and the abuse of power, to social structures based on kinship relations that eliminate equal opportunities and prevent equal access to a life of dignity.
The world-famous Belgian dance company Ultima Vez, one of Hungary’s most renowned theatres, the Katona József Theatre (with two performances) and the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, which is also sensitive to international trends and represents a progressive theatrical language, will be invited to the second module. In addition to productions by theatres from the most representative companies from Sfântu Gheorghe, there will be concerts, audience meetings and late-night DJ parties.
TRACES by Ultima Vez, a world-renowned dance company from Brussels, is “a drama of impressions and instincts, a play of energy and intensity”. The company’s director, choreographer, dancer, film director and photographer Wim Vandekeybus, together with his fellow artists, sets out in this performance to explore the traces of nature that our bodies have long forgotten or repressed within ourselves. How much of nature is still alive in us? How many animals are in the human body? What happens when we are in danger, when we have to make instinctive decisions to survive?
The production HEDDA GABLER, directed by Kriszta Székely, at the Katona József Theatre in Budapest, attempts to explore the social roles and inner struggles of women through the means of contemporary theatre. Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece was written in 1890, but it is still perfectly relevant today, so in some ways western society has not changed. There is still the view that if you have a good life on the outside, there is nothing wrong with it; status, money and comfort mean peace of mind. Yet even the attractive and exciting, seemingly perfect woman’s psyche can be full of dark tones, secrets, manipulation, selfishness, fear and repression, with the real face only visible beneath the spectacular outer layers.
The Katona József Theatre in Budapest, FÜGE, Productions and Orlai Productions have collaborated on the production of THE DIARY OF A MADMAN, a shocking solo performance by Tamás Keresztes. This year’s 5th Reflex Festival differs from previous ones not only in that it is organised in several modules, but also, for example, in that a previously seen production, which has enjoyed great professional and audience success, can be presented again at the festival. Poprishchin, the bureaucrat who is the protagonist of N.V. Gogol’s play, decides one day to move from a reality that seems unbearable to him to his own imaginary world.
Based on Zsigmond Móricz’s novel ROKONOK (THE RELATIVES), the production of the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj with the same title, directed by László Bocsárdi, is a sharply-toned social commentary. The story is set in Hungary sometime in the 1930s and the phenomenon it deals with is still extremely topical even today and in many ways has become global. In the context of corruption and nepotism, the abuses of the power elite, and bribery scandals, the timeliness of the story is clear, since for years in the recent past the news reported nothing but the prosecutions brought by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office against leading politicians, who tried to gain economic and social benefits through fraud.
The Tamási Áron Theatre will present the latest production by Radu Afrim, based on the play SUNFLOWER by Andrea Pass. The production, which the theatre plans to premiere on 14th May, presents family stories of abuse and ill treatment, in which lonely, lost children and adults search for a better life.
The Tragedy of Man, Imre Madách’s classic dramatic poem, is the basis for the Háromszék Dance Company’s production of TRAGEDY, which will also be performed at the festival. The production asks questions about the relationship between man and woman, the relationship between the individual and the masses, faith, love, freedom, competition and the phalanstery, and tries to formulate answers through dance.
The Andrei Mureşanu Theatre will perform Yann Verburgh’s LA RONDE, which the director describes as “a political and intimate manifesto on sexuality”. Eugen Jebeleanu’s production for adults speaks unabashedly about the many facets of love relationships in our times, on the threshold of a new sexual revolution.
In addition, the festival audience will also see the Cimborák Puppet Theatre’s production of BLACK LAND, about how Gyurka leaves his safe environment and faces the dragon in order to live freely and happily with his beloved. The story of St. George is primarily aimed for children, but it also conveys universal human values that can guide adults.
The May module of Reflex5 also includes musical events. After the Jü orchestra, invited to the first module, this time the music-loving audience will be treated to a concert by the experimental trio VAS/BUKOWSKI/SZMAŃDA. The Vas/Bukowski/Szmańda Trio was formed by three excellent musicians, Bence Vas (Hammond organ), Dominik Bukowski (vibraphone) and Krzysztof Szmańda (drums). The trio, which plays in a somewhat unusual formation, was formed at the initiative of Bence Vas, a Hungarian organist who recently settled in Poland, and performs almost exclusively new compositions of his own. The musicians’ distinctive, unique playing style gives the orchestra a special, unique sound. Their debut album, Open-Closed Principle, was released in 2022 on Polish SJ Records.
In addition to the trio’s performances, the day’s events will of course be rounded off by late-night parties, where the audience and the creators of the performances can party together to the music of local and invited DJs.
Tickets for the second module of Reflex5 will go on sale on Monday, 8th May at 10 am. at the Box Office in Sfântu Gheorghe and on the biletmaster.ro website.