18 aug. 2017

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Andras Demeter decided: "No Hamlet - Let Ham!"


What should do an actor who has usually played Shakespeare in three different languages, and became state theatre Director in age of 24 (see my "Publications"), but today being the Head of the "Production House" of the Romanian Public Television, without proper financial support, with a lot of anniversaries on his head?

Just 200 years ago, when the first theatrical performance in Romanian language held in the capital of Moldavia, no professional actors were playing, however there was enough money. But fanatic and sometimes very poor theatre people always want to do their job. In spite of insufficient monetary situation, they have usually gathered to play once or twice or more, depends on the public.

Inevitably for performing you have to have players...

So, András Demeter, who already turned a minority institution on the brink of closing into an internationally renowned Hungarian Theatre from 1993 to 2005, one of the best one in Romania, and founded the 'Comedians' Feast' in 1996 at Timisoara as well, decided to invite his voluntary, zealous, talented colleagues of the whole Romanian Television, speakers, producers, presenters etc. (originally actors, or not at all) to put on stage together a play for broadcast as the newest tv-theatrical premiere just on the 60th birthday of the National Television Theatre, today led by him.

Actually the very first Romanian Tv-theatrical production in 1957 at Bucharest was transmitted on the 10th of August. It means that in hottest Summer it is not allowed to play for example the "Hamlet" – on the contrary, you have to "let ham" as ’an exaggerated theatrical style’ in strict sense of the word. (See: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ham). Particularly in the garden of TVR. (Anyway two years ago "Theatre in TVR" has been also a successful invention by Demeter.) You must look for a comedy, a farce, or even more a genuine vaudeville. Not very complicated, but ludicrous.

The choice was PIATRA DIN CASA (’Stone in the House’), about thirty years younger than the first Romanian-speaking production in 1816. It was written by Vasile Alecsandri (1821–1890), an important Romanian poet, playwright, politician and diplomat, on a shipboard in Italy, on the way to Sicily, for entertaining his beloved Elena Negri. The theatre premiere was also in Jassy in 1847 with music by Alexandru (Adolf) Fletchtenmacher (1824 – 1898), composer of the first Romanian operetta, originally a German violinist, conductor, pedagogue, becoming one of the most influenced Romanian musicians of his time. This one-act play is perhaps an adaptation, an allusion to the difficulty of young girls getting married in those times. Because the ’stone in the house’ is in fact Marghiolita, the marriageable girl whose mother wishes to be rid of her in order to get married again herself to Herr Franz Birman...

Naturally ’Her Franţ Birman, the German doctor’ is played by the Hungarian actor, Demeter András. The title-role is impersonated by Corina Danila, a popular presenter who is also a professional actress. "Cucoana Zamfira, her mother" is Carmen Movileanu, a TVR-producer since about 40 years. Both ladies have the same project in TVR, an entertaining talk-show: Ieri – azi – maine (’Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow’) fit well to the performance made by the ’Casa de Productie – TVR’.  All the cast is entertaining, and the production itself turns into a kind of happy time-journey in the old Romanian theatre history.

Sixty years ago the first tv-theatrical premiere was transmitted live. In 2017, Teatrul National de Televiziune broadcasted its newest production in direct again. But not only on channels TVR2 and TVR plus. Due to the 21st century, it was able to follow live through social media (Facebook, YouTube) as well.  A vaudeville from the past was played as an expressive farce in present, like a birthday present – having presented even for the future, in recorded form.

Spectators are mostly satisfied, even grateful. Except for a few "serious critics" having become shocked. So it is a real success. You can see some performances in September on the stage at ’Teatru In TVR’, or you have always possibility to enjoy PIATRA DIN CASA on internet. It's worth checking out. If you want to laugh. If not, I recommend you to read nervous critics…

theatre writer, historian, "Hamletologist"
Budapest, Hungary


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