“We were born to the world to be at home in it somewhere,” wrote the Hungarian author Áron Tamási. Yet not only the feeling of being at home, but also that of homelessness may be a common denominator among people who live in the same space – in the same cyberspace.
This is where the characters of Hungari are situated: in a seemingly cosy apartment with sofas, a table and chairs, a glass of wine – in Norway, Mexico, Dublin, Geneva, Tokyo and elsewhere in the world in spring, summer, autumn and winter. They are Hungarian immigrants who left their country in hopes of building a better life, and they don’t quite seem to have found it. Blogging about their feelings and quotidian life, ranting and rambling, commenting on commonplaces, they melt into a family of a non-family. A group of immigrants who all miss something essential, the smell and taste of home; disillusioned people, connected by their computers in a disintegrated world represented by noise-like, experimental and sometimes melodic music composed by Árpád Kákonyi and performed live by the actors.
The concert theatre performance staged by author and dramaturge, university teacher and director Péter Kárpáti, and performed by HOPPart Company was already presented to an international audience at the “Leaving is not an option?” festival at Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin last March. The fact that the mass exodus of young Hungarians in recent years is a topic that inspires Hungarian directors is not surprising, explains Péter Kárpáti. “What is surprising is if somebody doesn’t deal with this topic. Yet this piece is more than just the problem of immigration. It is a forum to speak about loneliness and relationships, about being a stranger.”
The text is based on real documents and stories, including the calvary of someone looking for a room in Berlin and having to go to dozens of interviews to present himself all the way from Neukölln to Pankow – an experience which many Berliners will recall with a smile while watching the play. Nevertheless, one does not have to leave Hungary in order to feel like a stranger. “Many feel this is because they do NOT leave. I am interested in what makes people not feel at home in their own skin.” Péter Kárpáti recalls walking around in Budapest and staring at unknown, new spaces – or at others which have not changed at all, in which “the tissue I threw away 40 years ago at school is still there on the floor, where the past has stayed untouched, grey and sad.”
Hungari is one of the final performances at the 12th Contemporary Drama Festival Budapest and it seems to be the response to the festival’s opening piece by Csaba Mikó, The Fatherless, a guest performance by Theater Regensburg. Whereas that piece deals with unfulfilled hopes after the change of the political system in 1989 – a nation left “fatherless”, Hungari represents the present, where the fatherless child may find his home in displacement. Within the global “non-place”, the music of distorted “non-melodies” and in a blogging “non-family”, there is a universal human kindness. There are melodies; there are relationships.