The Colloquium of Ethnic
Minority Theatre – organized every two years by Figura Studio Theatre in
Gheorgheni – is the traditional multicultural theatre festival of Transilvania
for decades now. Its basic concept is that it provides possibilities for ethnic
theatre groups to work together.
The first was organized in 1978 at Sfântu Gheorghe. The next two editions took place again at Sepsiszentgyörgy in 1980 and 1992 respectively. After the third edition it seemed it was the last and ten years had to pass for the next one because in 2001 the Romanian Government – Department of Interethnic Relations proposed its continuation.
At this time there were ten ethnic minority theatres in the country: seven Hungarian, two German and one Jewish. At this time as well Figura Studio Theatre as an institution, lead by András Szabó Tibor, is less than ten years old and of all the ethnic minority theatres the smallest one. Despite this the community working here decides – since no other theatre undertook the organization of the festival – that they ground the Colloquium’s tradition here in Gheorgheni.
Although they have very little time on their hands, thanks to a strong dedication the festival’s fourth edition took place in 2001 at Figura Studio Theatre.
The most prominent novelty of the later editions is that beyond professional theatres a wide number of independent theatres and theatre groups are invited as well as theatres and theatre groups from abroad (Beregszászi Illyés Gyula Hungarian Ethnic Theatre, Cinka Panna Gypsy Theatre, Corvinus Teatrum from Szarvas).
In this sense the festival containing regularly about 23 theatre plays, book launches, concerts, bookfair and workshops tries also to touch on issues like belonging to an ethnic minority and what makes living in Middle-Europe Unique.
Ten years ago Figura’s ventures into movement theatre were not only novel, but also unique on the palette of Transylvanian theatre: “Transylvanian theatre has no tradition in movement theatre. There are but a few productions of this kind on local theatre programs. One exception is Figura Studio Theatre of Gheorgheni that regularly experiments with this genre. The movement theatre workshop at Háromszék Dance Troupe specifically concentrates on this genre, but our judgment will have to wait until the end of the first season.” (Zoltán Csép: Mozgásban lévő város, in: Criticai lapok, 2006/9.)
For Figura to keep its unique self it constantly had to undertake the renewal tendencies of theatrical language since it is the only Transylvanian Hungarian theatre that has the word “experimental” in its founding document.
It is not by coincidence then that in 2006 dance.movement.theater is launched, a festival on the crossroads of dance, theatre and movement, since these aspects were already all present in the Ur-Figura productions. The productions prior to 1990 although are not explicitly movement theatre productions, they employ a lot of its tools and concepts.
By the end of the 90’s figures and groups known all over the Hungarian performance and alternative (movement) theatre were coming to Figura: László Lantos – Tricepsz, Iván Angelus, Gábor Goda (who’s Gold Fly production at Figura won the main prize of the Veszprém dance festival), Theatre Artus, Theatre Andax and Yvette Bozsik who directed to separate productions at Figura (Playground, 2009 and Peter Handke: The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, 2011).
A significant moment is Waiting for Godot of 2001 the audience could witness Beckett’s play as a nonverbal pantomime play directed by Lóránt András. This was followed by two spectacular contact dance productions by Péter Uray: The Mill and Ticker, both of which prove that the history of Figura was intertwined with movement theatre even before the dance.movement.theater festival was launched.
2005 saw Figura under the leadership of László Béres who among other things starts organizing a festival that on one hand reflects Figura’s unique identity infused with dance and movement and on the other hand is the alternating festival of the Minority Theatre Colloquium.
This is when dance.movement.theatre is first conceptualized, but also the time when Figura comes into contact with Vava Ștefănescu (who directed Stories from the Invisible Town of 2006 at Figura) and through her with the Romanian National Dance Centre from where most of the financial support used to come.
During the six iterations dance.movement.theatre had so far, it became an international festival with attendees like József Nagy’s Jel Theatre (FR), Pál Frenák Company (FR), Urbán András Company of Kozstolányi Dezső Theatre (SRB) or Çağlar Yiğitoğulları, the Turkish performance artist. Besides these each time saw the staging of quality movement theatre productions both from Hungary and Romania.