"There Is A Country" - Katona Jószef Színház

We must not talk politics at school

What does it currently mean to grow up in Hungary? Ten young people from Budapest try to answer this question by comparing it to a military-looking sports lesson. All performers are uniformed in the same sports outfit, only the teacher stands out with his training jacket and whistle. Immediately he gives the students a portion of push-ups and jumping jacks paired with pre-prayed national pride, which they repeat with great effort. He rages against Brussels and demands the sealing of Hungarian borders, ending his appeal with the words: "Being Hungarian is the best thing in the world. The young people have to recite this sentence over and over again throughout the performance, like an amen in church. The exercises are transformed into a hectic choreography, which repeatedly separates the monologues of the players from each other. The movements flow into images, such as a person with two fingers at the temples like horns being lifted above his comrades, making them do knee bends like marionettes. At the same time, they sing the same catchy melody, reminiscent of a folk song.
In recurring moments of cohesion, however, the players talk about their experiences. The first of them talks about television images of fences and men in suits promising to keep them up. A loud whistle that means sports again. Then the next one talks about his school where he goes to become a circus performer. Apparently you lose your job there if you don't share the director's political views. Am I an enemy? And how do I have to be to be trained as an artist here anyway?
Again push-ups and stomping. The following two young people, giggling and holding hands, echo a conversation in which they speak out against rainbow flags and in favor of re-education camps, using a lot of insults. After the next interruption by the sports teacher, it is about the anecdote of a boy who is banned from speaking at school when he jokingly calls Orbán a dictator. The punishment work: the transcription of a page-long formulation of an imposed concept of democracy. The boy reads out the text, his classmates try to repeat it, but fail again and again, until the teacher drills them again for physical exercise under folkloristic humming. The choreography picks up speed and this time ends in the fanatical diatribe of one of the youngsters. Go Hungary! In a hoarse but powerful voice, he shouts right-wing conservative buzzwords at the audience: from the rediscovery of national feeling, to Bill Gates and 5G, to the degendering of Santa Claus.
Once again, the young people struggle, sweaty and panting, through the exercises timed by whistles. Exhausted, they line up one last time to finally sing the melody with the accompanying lyrics. It's about a mother or father trudging through a nocturnal forest with a baby at his or her breast in an attempt to escape, but "úgysem érem keresztül a hazámat". I'll never get through my country.
The tired but still strong voices tell deeply touching stories of a social climate that is wearing them down, banning their mouths and dictating how they should think. A spreading fascist attitude that does not even stop at their own doorstep. And despite all the oppressive images, hurtful words and harsh measures, a sense of cohesion and resistance creeps onto the stage. A flame blazes in the performers. A flame that burns with the union of their forces against hate.
"I've got enough for you and me to light the middle of the forest".

text by flo rieder

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