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Culture

Acclaimed film director Réka Szabó stages English-friendly play Afterparty at Trafó

Known for her 2019 film The Euphoria of Being, a hit at major festivals across Europe, Réka Szabó founded her dance company The Symptoms nearly two decades ago. She has also been a long-term collaborator with famed jazz singer Veronika Harcsa. This Wednesday and Thursday, 22 and 23 September at Trafó, director, troupe and singer come together for Afterparty, a genre-defying stage play conceived during lockdown. The show runs with English surtitles. We spoke with Szabó during a break in hectic rehearsals.

Subtitled A fictional ritual of a fictional tribe, Afterparty explores the relationship between thought, sound and movement. What would we say if we weren’t constrained by society’s norms? What if we listened more closely to our inner voice?

No two nights the same

It’s a different show every night,” says director Réka Szabó, with no little understatement, “full of improvisation”.

Afterparty is challenging to say the least. It was conceived by Szabó and the dance and theatre company she founded, The Symptoms, during lockdown. As for their other productions, the show builds heavily on the distinctive personalities and imagination of the performers. Boundaries are broken, conventions challenged.

We were working at an empty Trafó for months during the lockdown period earlier this year,” says Szabó, looking back on a time of fear and isolation. “And yet the piece is all about the effect we have on each other, and how we are not independent of each other.”

Accompanying the piece is the ghostly aural presence of acclaimed jazz singer Veronika Harcsa, never seen on stage, and guiding the audience will be surtitles in English.

I’ve worked with Veronika for ten years,” says Szabó. “She also brought a very open-minded approach to Afterparty, showing how her voice could augment the performance and add a lighter tone.”

Voices are otherwise anything but conventional. “The play hones in on the very moment you give voice to your thoughts and feelings,” explains Szabó, “and your physical state while you’re doing this”.

The fictional tribe in Afterparty, the dancers and actors of The Symptoms, go through these rituals while delving into ancient conventions of communication and interaction. Underpinning the interplay is a structure, which provides the framework as the performers seek their buried voice.

Personal yet universal

It’s very personal yet universal,” outlines Szabó, delighted that the play can at last be played out in front of a live audience. “It touches on memories that may be painful or happy.”

Performers Viktória Dányi, Patrik Kelemen, Balázs Oláh, Veronika Szabó and Dániel Szász also contributed to the choreography and movement of the piece.

We're hoping that Afterparty will give viewers a sense of freedom, that afterwards they will feel set free and not afraid of being judged,” concludes Szabó.

A musical, theatrical and dance performance in one, Afterparty should spark both curiosity and creativity, and increase Réka Szabó’s already considerable reputation as a provocative director of stage and screen. Miss it at your peril.

Information & tickets

Afterparty
Trafó, 1094 Budapest, Liliom utca 41 
22-23 September, 8pm
Tickets 3,200 forints (discounted 2,200-2,800 forints).
Details and purchases here

Cimkék

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