Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Radical right-wingers get their theatre

October 10th, 2011

A popular liberal blogger reacts ironically to the appointment of a radical right wing actor as director of a small Budapest theatre, describing it as a selfless decision in favour of the mentally deranged. A leading moderate conservative commentator cautions against possible negative consequences.

The left-wing press was appalled by the mayor’s decision to disregard the opinion of the professional jury and entrust actor György Dörner with the direction of Új Színház (New Theatre) in Budapest. Dörner is a self-confessed supporter of extreme right wing party leader István Csurka, whose party (MIÉP) was voted out of parliament in 2002. He also campaigned for Jobbik last year. Csurka, however, is a fierce critic of Jobbik and often supports the government in his regular editorials in the MIÉP weekly, Magyar Fórum. In his application for the job (leaked by a new “transparency site”, http://www.atlatszo.hu), Dörner named Csurka, once a popular playwright, as the spiritual leader of his project.

In HVG Online, Árpád W. Tóta, a popular blogger who switched platforms (from Index to HVG) in September, ridicules the left-wing press for interpreting Dörner’s application as a declaration of war, rather than as an artistic programme. (Dörner wrote in his mission statement that his main aim was to fight the “liberal yoke” under which Hungarians “are groaning.”) “There is nothing even vaguely reminiscent of a major scandal,” – he suggests. “All that has happened is that a group of severely mentally handicapped people have been granted another opportunity.” It is not an inexpensive venture – Tóta continues, but “since we live in a (civilised) society, we should not deny the disabled their group therapy.”

Bálint Ablonczy, a regular columnist at Heti Válasz, does not find the episode so entertaining. “If György Dörner and his programme really do suit the right wing majority which runs the capital, then the gentlemen at City Hall should not be surprised if people who actually do appreciate quality in culture vote with their feet – and not just against certain theatre productions.”

Tags: ,