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Debrecen Is a Major Venue for the 10th Theatre Olympics

The events of the 10th Theatre Olympics in Budapest and across Hungary will feature performances by some of the world’s leading theatre artists, as well as dance, puppetry and street theatre. 

The main events of the Olympics will take place at the National Theatre in Budapest as part of the IX Madách International Theatre Meeting, MITEM.

The 10th Theatre Olympics is presented by Deputy Mayor of Debrecen István Puskás, Artistic Director of the 10th Theatre Olympics and General Director of the National Theatre  Attila Vidnyánszky;  Director of the Csokonai Theatre Péter Gemza;  President of the Association of Hungarian Puppet Artists and Director of the Vojtina Puppet Theatre Anikó Asbóth, Director of the 10th Theatre Olympics, and the Director of the National Theatre János Pályi;, President of the Hungarian Puppeteers’ Association  János Regős and Director of the 10th World Puppet Artists’ Meeting János Vjtyina on 12th of April 2023.

The key concepts of the organisation of the Hungarian Theatre Olympics are autonomy, freedom and promoting access to culture. This is the vision of the National Theatre in Budapest and the artistic director, Attila Vidnyánszky, who is in charge of the organisation said: “There has never been a theatre event on this scale in Hungary before, and this year it is the biggest theatre event in the world. Fifty-eight countries, 400 companies, 750 performances, and more than 7,500 participants so far – that’s the upcoming Theatre Olympics in numbers”, said Attila Vidnyánszky at the press conference in Debrecen. He added: “It is not only a celebration of Budapest, not only of the stone theatres, but it embraces the whole profession, including amateur and student theatre, puppet theatre and circus. Theatre Olympics is a great opportunity to work against disconnection, with a constant curiosity for each other.”

The main venues for the Easter to Midsummer Night events are the Csokonai Fórum in Debrecen and the Vojtina Puppet Theatre. István Puskás, Deputy Mayor of Debrecen, said: “In 2023, the theatre will be the leading actor in the cultural life of Debrecen. Part of the building of Debrecen’s identity is the role of mediator between the world and the region. The city is happy to take on the responsibility of being a bridge. The Theatre Olympics is another chapter of this, with the hope that the encounters will lead to collaborations.”

The Olympics will include the 2023 World Puppet Arts Festival, a meeting in its own right: 13 puppet theatres from all over the country will be hosting the event from mid-April to the end of June. The international exchange has been organised in a spirit of cooperation. Anikó Asbóth, President of the Association of Hungarian Puppet Artists and Director of the Vojtina Puppet Theatre, said at the press conference: 332 events will take place in 13 puppet theatres across the country, including contemporary puppetry, fairground puppetry, stilt attractions, street theatre and many other exciting genres. Fifty-three companies from abroad, seven from abroad and 57 Hungarian companies from Hungary will serve the spirit of the Olympics and showcase the diverse world of puppetry.

The Vojtina company, together with Hungarian and foreign companies from abroad, will present 34 performances, three exhibitions, numerous playful puppet events, street parades and concerts, for all ages, under the banner of “Theatre, Play, Puppet, Puppetry”. The host puppet theatres will be divided into trios – triple units at the World Puppet Arts Festival. The Vojtina Puppet Theatre is part of the North-Eastern Trio, which also includes the Harlequin Puppet Theatre in Eger and the Miracle Puppet Theatre in Miskolc, which were also honoured at the press conference.

More information about the Vojtina Puppet Theatre’s programmes can be found at this link: https://www.vojtinababszinhaz.hu/musor?olimpia 

The press conference at the Csokonai Fórum was also attended by János Pályi, Artistic Director of the World Puppet Arts Festival, who said: “During the planning process, all the puppet theatres in the country were visited. The idea of the Olympics came to the puppet theatres at a difficult time, but with close collaboration, they have created a programme that is an innovation for the whole profession.”

A true celebration of theatre will also begin at the Csokonai Fórum from mid-May, as performances from all over the country will be coming to the flagship venue of the Theatre Olympics for a month.

The Hungarian theatres bring their most important productions to the National Theatre Meeting that best represent their companies. Twenty-two performances are coming to the theatre festival from Budapest, Győr, Pécs, Sopron, Szeged and Miskolc, among others.

Péter Gemza, director of the Csokonai Theatre, stressed that they did not want to organise a competition or a contest. “In the framework of the 10th Theatre Olympics, we organised a National Theatre Meeting for companies with the status of a national theatre, where they can show what they think about their place in society, their own role, what questions they are concerned with and what answers they come up with. This event is an opportunity for the invited companies to reflect on their own mission as a company and to find together an answer to the question of what the role of a theatre with a permanent company is.”

The Budapest and provincial theatres joining the Hungarian Olympics will host one foreign production and one cross-border production – which ones you can decide for yourself. The Csokonai Theatre has invited the Polish Wanda Siemaszkowa Theatre’s production of The Master and Margarita and the production of Rasputin, which has already been staged twice in Debrecen to great acclaim, staged by Sardar Tagirovsky at the Northern Theatre in Satu Mare, from 11 to 13th May, before the meeting of the stone theatres.

The programme of the Theatre Olympics and the National Theatre Meeting is available here: http://csokonaiszinhaz.hu/szinhaziolimpia/

The 10th Theatre Olympics will also welcome amateur ensembles from smaller communities. The International Association of Amateur Theatre Actors (AITA/IATA) has already accepted the offer of the City of Debrecen to host the next International Amateur Theatre Festival in 2023, at its General Assembly in August 2021. AITA/IATA has entrusted the Hungarian National Centre of AITA/IATA, the Hungarian Theatre Players’ Association, with the preparation and organisation of the event. The 10th Theatre Olympics has added the planned event to its supporting programme, making it the festival’s main sponsor.