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Political demonstration by Austrian theatre

April 24th, 2015

Conservative commentators deplore a political statement read out by an actor of Vienna’a Burgtheater in Budapest after a performance of Chekhov’s Seagull at the annual international festival in Hungary’s National Theatre. Left-wing analysts are divided.

In Napi Gazdaság, Ottó Gajdics says Hungarians admire Vienna with its vibrant cultural life, museums, exhibition halls and concerts, but he believes that a reckless group “is becoming the loudest there. Just like in Hungary,” he adds, hinting at left-liberal artists who are often radically critical of government policies. He agrees with actor Péter Blaskó who asked his Austrian colleagues to apologise for what has happened.  (Actor Martin Reinke told the audience in Budapest that Hungary was “increasingly deviating from the spirit of democracy and from Europe.”)

Gajdics left his post as editor in chief of Lánchíd Radio, when the owner, Lajos Simicska turned against PM Viktor Orbán. See BudaPost, 2012 through 2015. Napi Gazdaság has been taken over from the pro-government Századvég think tank by former Magyar Nemzet editor in chief Gábor Liszkay, who is turning it into a pro-government political daily with about 40 journalists who left Simicska’s media outlets, including Magyar Nemzet, HírTV and Lánchíd Radio.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Péter Techet says that if Blaskó went to Vienna and told the public in the Burgtheater that he was worried about the state of affairs ithere, he would be applauded.

In Népszabadság, László Zappe believes that expressing negative political opinions about the state of affairs in a host country after a theatre performance “must be considered impolite, even if we happen to agree.”