6th November 2018, Novi Sad Theatre, small scene, 21h (Duration 1.15)
AVALA EXPRESS 20
Serbian Theater in Hungary
Director: Petar MILOŠEVIĆ
Music: Tamás CSEH
Hungarian text: Géza BEREMÉMYI
Singer: Jozo MATORICZ
It’s been 20 years since the premiere of this show. As one would say, the X has passed twice (XX). There are two important words with the letter X in the show. One is express. Avala Express, a Belgrade train, which was the only link in 1990 between the war-split Yugoslavia and the rest of the world. At the time of the arrival of Avala Express, the Keleti railway station was crowded with people who were waiting for their relatives, friends or loved ones … So in 1996, I came up with a title, and all there was left to do is to put the songs in an appropriate order: the station, the smell of the machine oil, waiting room … The train arrives in a city called Budapest. Where are we going to live, maybe in a cheap hotel. No, it’s better at dormitory of the Serbian school. “There we will be able to say how much more of us there isn’t and how much remains left to be destroyed,” says one young man running around the Keleti’s platform, holding a yearbook in his hands, maybe he will recognize some of his old friends.
The second word with the letter X is kex. Tamás Cseh had his first performance with the legendary Keks group. At that time, the singer of this group Sós Baksa János was very popular. It was sensational that in 1970, he was a guest at the Serbian-Croatian gymnasium on the Roses Square (thanks to Zoran Stevanović, now a very popular singer in Hungary) where he played the guitar he later gave to Cseh Tamás before he emigrated from Hungary.
After graduating from college in 1976, I returned to the Roses Square as a professor. At that time, my whole life was about Cseh Tamás, I listened to his song and lyrics, and sometimes I played them to my students. They translated several songs into Serbian and Croatian (the school was still joint at that time), which was a great exercise for language learning. I remember a song called Budapest, which was sang by the 1st grade students in the choir.
In order to maintain the Serbian spirit, I got the permission from the songwriter, Géza Beremenyi, to change certain geographical and character names.
At one moment an old song from Szentendre can be heard, in archaic Slavo-Serbian language. This song gives a frame to the whole story.
About the play:
The maltreatement of passengers at the Keleti railway station in Budapest continues. A certain Jozo M. awaits the Avala Express from Belgrade every single day. For years, every night in seven,masses from the burning and bombarded land arrive. J. M. intercepts passengers, shows them a graduation photo and searches for his friends from the former Serbian-Croatian Gymnasium – friends from his class, the children of the former YU Embassy in Budapest. People flee from him, looking for an apartment. He suggests to them a student dormitory in which the idyllic state prevails, but with the intervention of the authorities this idyllic state is disturbed. Crestfallen tenants seek consolation in memories, they are mentioning Dubrovnik and Lepa Brena. Finally, Ana comes with the Avala Express, and Jozo loses his elegy. They stand on the banks of the Danube River in Budapest looking into the river, and their faces are washed by the waves.
The first concert was in 1996, when the songs of Tamás Cseh and Beremenyi Géza were sung in the Serbian language, which were translated and adapted into a musical story by Petar Milošević. The concert was restored in 2018 to mark the 20 years anniversary since its first performance.
The whole project was made in cooperation with the Serbian Theater in Hungary and the family of Cseh Tamás.
Who is who?
The director of the performance Petar Milošević is a poet, writer, literary historian and professor at the Slavistics Department at the Eötvös Lóránd University in Budapest. He was born in Budakalász, into a Serbian family. In addition to seven fictional and ten literary-theoretical works, he wrote four stage pieces, as well as a large number of studies and reviews. For decades Milosević is contributing to the production of the magazine for Hungarian Serbs. Most popular works: London, Pomaz, We’re from Szentendre, The Battle for Sulejmanovac, Tinja Kalaz, Miracle in Tekelijanum, Vujicic Blues. He received the international award “Branko Radičević” for his literary opus.
Famous Hungarian songwriter and actor. He won the Kossuth Prize and the Franz Liszt Award, the two most prestigious prizes awarded to artists in Hungary. In addition to numerous musical achievements, he was also a member of some famous Hungarian theaters. He died in 2009.
Hungarian writer, playwright and film director, also a winner of the Kossuth Prize. Since 2012, he is the director of the Thalia Theater. Since 1970, he and Cseh Tamás have been inseparable in their creative collaboration.
About the theater:
Serbian theater in Hungary
The Serbian Theater in Hungary marked its 20th anniversary of existence in 2013, the same year it marked 200 years since the Kreštalica, the first Serbian theater performance, was performed in Budapest. Under the leadership of Milan Rus, the Serbian Theater in Hungary performs plays in Serbian as well as in Hungarian.
Performing and touring in Serbia are assisted by The Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary and the Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary.
Continuing the spirituality and work of Joakim Vujić, members of the Serbian Theater in Hungary and its chief manager choose the repertoire in exact accordance with their mission which they conduct in Hungary, Serbia and throughout Europe, where they regularly perform. On the boards of this theater in, in the center of Pest, just like in numerous guest appearances, the theater has the following on its repertoire:
– classic Serbian drama in Serbian (Sterija, Nusić and others)
– contemporary Serbian drama in the Serbian language (Kovačević, Dorić, Nikolić)
– Contemporary Hungarian drama in Serbian (Molnár, Rideg Sándor and others)
– classics and contemporary writers of world literature (Shakespeare, Dürrenmatt, Ionesk, Albee)
– contemporary pieces of Serbian literature in the Hungarian language (Kovačević, Dorić, Nikolić).
We just want to present both Serbian and Hungarian audiences with both drama literature in both languages. Among the most important tasks are the rendering of pieces by Serbian authors in Hungary, among which a special place is taken by: Petar Milošević, Stojan Vujičić, Dragomir Dujmov and others, Milan Rus states, adding:
We organize a festival for thirteen registered minorities in Hungary (ARCUSFEST, Jelenlét Festival), we are organizing the hosting of professional theaters from the motherland, so there are almost no theater from Serbia that we did not host. Our regular activities include setting up plays for children, interactive performances with Santa Claus and holiday plays. We are engaged in drama pedagogy, we work with young people, children and student groups, which we deem to be of great importance.
For its twenty-five years of professional work, the theater has performed plays directed by the great names of the Serbian theatrical scene, such as: Bora Drašković, Zlatan Dorić, Milan Karadžić, Valentin Vencel, Lidija Stevanović.
In ancient Greece the theater was a sacred place. The word teatron means a place where the Deity can be seen. It has been established to greatly improve the social morale and develop humanity in many ways. People were paid to go to the theater. The actor was at the top of the social ladder, he was also a doctor, a teacher, and a priest of his time. There are no more priests of Talia. The profanation of the theater began with the arrival of the pagan tribes to these places. In two thousand years the theater descended from its high spiritual level into the field of culture. The actor is a second-class citizen, who with his behavior often threatens the civic world. According to church rules, a clergyman can not marry a waitress or actress.
With the feeling of nostalgia for these ancient times, we set up sacred elements on the scene. Of course, those that we consider today are divine and exalted, since Olympus is empty. We set them without modification in some popularist, avant-garde, or modern fashion. Nowadays, sanctuary is at every corner, in the media, in cathedrals, on every forum, directly or indirectly. Nothing is sacred to the modern man, nothing is believed in, and everything can be criticized. However, when answers to the key question do not arrive on time, people turn to higher powers for guidance. We wanted to make a play about this appeal to the higher power! – explains the chief manager Milan Rus and underlines:
Novi Sad Theater is one of the most appreciated workshops in Hungary. We are not coming to compete, nor to attract considerable media attention. We come to support the initiative of colleagues who have come up with something unique and in accordance to world standards. We thank you for your invitation, with the desire to make your Festival come true, and it to be even better than you imagined.
It is precisely the merit of the Serbian Theater from Hungary, that some theater genres were performed for the first time in the Serbian language. The passion (mystery play), operetta, musical comedy or rock opera did not find its place in the Serbian language, and such works did not even exist until the founding of the Serbian Theater in Hungary, and the reasons probably lies in historical and cultural differences, tradition and territorial diversity.