When the going gets tough, the tough produce theatre. This is true of László Magács, who created the incredibly popular First Hungarian Quarantine Theatre during the lockdown, raking in 100,000+ views. Inspired by the success, László and his team are now tackling the lofty works of William Shakespeare – with a twist – and are actively looking for collaborative partners and investors.
The project, entitled Shakespeare/37, is an effort to produce each of Shakespeare’s 37 plays – but don’t think Royal Shakespeare Company, think more Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. “The idea,” says László, “is to reflect on one character, theme or premise from each of the plays, and create something around that.” For example, Hamlet will take place at a party on the TRIP boat moored off Buda, just following the funeral of his father. As the young protagonist agonises over what course of action to take next, his friends appear – Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern – and each influence him with their suggestions.
The budget for the entire project is 36 million forints, with 900,000 designated for each episode. László hopes that he can find investors to join the Board of Directors for the project, as he has discovered in the past that having multiple minds to collaborate with makes the resulting pieces more dynamic and interesting. “It would be a great investment for a company,” he adds. “We’re expecting 400,000 views for each episode.” So far, available positions within the project include Co-Producer, Collaborator and Sponsor.
18 of the plays are complete so far, with filming to begin in early August, and the first episode to be aired on the 1st of September. After that, a new episode will be released every second week. The topic of each play is left entirely to the writers, so audiences can expect creative and wildly unique plot lines.
László has a lot of experience in producing English-language theatre in Budapest. He previously ran Merlin, the English theatre space which was a huge draw in town, and he is now CEO of TripArt. The Shakespeare/37 project will be multilingual: filmed in Hungarian with English subtitles. Another aspect which excites László is the collaborative opportunities offered by an independent production like this. “Since we’re not married to any one theatre company,” he explains, “we can hire any actor, and any scriptwriter that we like”. Already, several famous Hungarian actors have come on board, such as Géza D. Hegedűs, Miklós H. Vecsei, Annamária Láng, and others.
Each episode will be 20-30 minutes long, and will be filmed in a unique, secret location around Budapest. “And everything will be filmed in one shot, no editing,” says László, “as if the camera were a member of the audience”.
More information on the First Hungarian Quarantine Theatre can be found on the website. The upcoming episodes will all be aired on the group’s YouTube channel.