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Tickets are on sale for the 11th MITEM at the National Theatre

An Italian world premiere, a contemporary Spanish playwright, Turkish performances in connection with the Turkish-Hungarian Cultural Year, Belgian, Bulgarian, Bashkir, Georgian, Greek, Israeli companies – international theatre encounters will take place again this year at the National Theatre.


The 11th MITEM will open with a visually stunning production by Diana Dobreva, a major director of Bulgarian theatre. Returning acclaimed artists include Rimas Tuminas, Jan Fabre, Theodoros Terzopoulos and Alessandro Serra, who will have the world premiere of his latest production in Budapest; and Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga will also make his debut at MITEM as director of his own play. The Tragedy of Man contemporary dance composition, brought to Budapest by students from the State University of Theatre and Film in Tbilisi, will be a special feature of the Festival.


 Diana Dobreva: Odüsszeusz


Held throughout the country thanks to the unparalleled collaboration of the Hungarian theatre profession, the 10th Theatre Olympics was a major event in world theatre. The Theatre Olympics demonstrated that "theatre is crucial for societies and contemporary culture", said director Romeo Castelucci. Founder Theodoros Terzopoulos launched the Olympics’ symbol, the tragedy mask, from the Theatre of Epidaurus with these words: "The 10th Theatre Olympics expresses concern for humans in the 21st century and redefines the principles of theatre." In April 2024, many of the performances coming to the 11th MITEM will draw inspiration from ancient Greek mythical theatre. It seems the crises of the 21st century are prompting artists to search beneath the ruins of our present day for the collective knowledge that was available to all in the age of Greek tragedy.


"How to teach Oedipus to the contemporary crowd in its primeval purpose as a pharmakos? A scapegoat expelled from his own city which had hailed him as a king. How to make Sophocles accessible to everybody?" asks Italian director Alessandro Serra. Serra’s next production, Tragedy (Oedipus’ Song), will have its world premiere in Budapest at the 11th MITEM. Belgian multi-disciplinary artist Jan Fabre will present the eight-hour performance Mytikas Peak (On the top of Mount Olympus) to the Hungarian public. "While writing Mytikas Peak, I was painfully confronted with the fact that the world of the ancient Greeks of barely two and a half thousand years ago still exists, and is still as horrible as it was then - or perhaps even more so," says Belgian writer Johan de Boose, whom Fabre invited to write the text for the production. Mytikas Peak (On the top of Mount Olympus) is a spectacle full of color and odour, full of death and desire, a feast on the edge of the grave, a celebration of beauty and passion, while the world is heading to its end. But at the same time, it is a ritual game that forces us to think about our future.

Jan Fabre: Mytikas Peak (On the top of Mount Olympus)


Bulgarian director Diana Dobreva achieved her first success in 2006 with Medea, subsequently invited to Avignon. Her visually stunning production Odysseus was created in the project "European Odyssey 2019: The Travelling Man" in Plovdiv, as part of the European Capital of Culture programme. "We sought the light followed by Odysseus. For Odysseus, the journey to Penelope, the love of his life, is actually a journey to himself," says Diana Dobreva, director of MITEM’s opening performance.

Theatre Olympics creator Theodoros Terzopoulos staged Beckett’s contemporary classic Waiting for Godot in Italy last year. Beckett’s play is set on “the ruins of the world”, in a future more or less close to us, where all the present and the past wounds are kept open. "At this borderline of human existence, what are the minimum possible conditions for restarting life, a life that is worth living?" asks the Greek director. Savvas Stroumpos, a student of Terzopulos, and his Greek company explore the hidden transversal paths in Chekhov’s Seagull. With his production, he seeks to answer the question "Who is the human in times of transition, where nothing can continue as it was, nothing can remain stagnant and nothing can proceed without a leap towards a utopian horizon to defend the humaneness inside humans?"

The productions of Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas have always had great success in Budapest, and in Tel Aviv he is a regular guest at Gesher Theatre. Tuminas stages great themes and classical works as passionate stage visions, and in Israel he directed Anna Karenina. "I see Anna not one-dimensionally, but as a concentration of all possible female incarnations: she is a tender mother, a grumpy wife, a lover jealous to the extreme, generous and kind to others, and a greedy envious woman – in her light and darkness exist inseparably, as well as pain and pleasure," says the director. The production was a great success in Paris in January, and after the Budapest performance, it will also be presented in Lithuania, Estonia and China.


Rimas Tuminas: Anna Karenina


World-renowned Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga, having won many literary awards, also won the Europe Prize for New Theatrical Realities in 2016. María Luisa was his debut as Artistic Director of La Abadía Theatre in 2023. The play’s heroine is an independent, elderly woman who enjoys life. Mayorga’s bitter-sweet comedy is a confession about loneliness, old age, and the blurred boundaries between reality and imagination.

In conjunction with the Turkish-Hungarian Cultural Year, two Turkish performances will be presented at MITEM. A stage adaptation of War and Peace, directed by Aleksandar Popovski, who is well-known in Budapest, will come from Istanbul. The issues raised in Tolstoy’s novel are still relevant today: turbulent times curtail individual choice, the desire for freedom is dissolved in a communal morality. The production Devlet Ana (Mother State), based on one of Turkey’s most important historical novels, written by Kemal Tahir, will premiere in Ankara in February. The production, which explores and presents the destiny and character of the Turkish people and the roots of its statehood, is a good fit for the programme of the Hungarian-Turkish Cultural Year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Türkiye and the establishment of Hungarian-Turkish diplomatic relations. National Theatre will perform Merry-Go-Round at the Antalya International Theatre Festival (at the Haşim İşcan Culture Centre Main Hall in Antalya) in May as part of the Turkish-Hungarian Season, in cooperation with the Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Turkish State Theaters General Directorate.


War and Peace, directed by Aleksandar Popovski


In the highly successful Madách Project of the 10th Theatre Olympics, Georgian theatre students gave a stand-out performance in the Space Scene of Madách’s Tragedy. The young creative duo Tata Tavdishvili and Tato Geliashvili then decided to present the entire The Tragedy of Man as an independent contemporary dance production at the Shota Rustaveli State University of Theatre and Film in Tbilisi this spring, and to perform it in Budapest as well. And Avtandil Varsimasvili, a professor at this university teaching directors, will bring to MITEM a production by Liberty Theatre that has recently won a number of awards. The production They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is based on the well-known novel and film. The marathon dance competition, the "marathon", shows the face of our present life, and delivers a bitter diagnosis of our modernity and everyday existence.

The State Theatre of Košice returns to MITEM with a modern dance performance based on Anne Frank’s diary, a worthy memento for the 80th Memorial Year of the Holocaust. The Bashkir Mazhit Gafuri State Academic Drama Theatre comes to MITEM with a production based on one of Gafuri’s well-known works, a classic of Bashkir literature. The production The Darkfaces (The Slandered) focuses on the tragedy of the community and the individual, with fallible human nature at its core.

The detailed programme is available at mitem.hu/en .

(13 February 2024)