Guild protests against far-right theatre appointment in Hungary

on 27 January 2012. Posted in Theatre

A statement from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain

The Writers' Guild is alarmed by the Hungarian government's imposition of a far-right director on one of Budapest's leading theatres, and supports the campaign for a statement to be made in support of tolerance in theatre on 1 February, the day when the theatre changes hands.

Following the election of the right-wing Fidesz Party, the Mayor of Budapest sacked the director of the New Theatre, and appointed actor Gyorgy Dorner in his place. Dorner is a supporter of the anti-Roma, anti-gay and anti-semitic party Jobbik. Jobbik's militia, the Hungarian Guard, was recently forced to disband but its presidential candidate recently stated that Jews were 'liice-infested dirty murderers'. The party has 47 members of the Hungarian parliamentn and one of its members is president of the Cultural and Media Committee.

The New Theatre presents both Hungarian plays and the international canon, from Schiller to Shakespeare. Dorner's policy is to stop the production of 'foreign garbage'entirely and present only Hungarian work. He is proposing presenting the plays of his friend and advisor Istvan Csurka, of the Hungarian Truth and Life Party. A number of Hungarian writers have withdrawn their plays from the theatre in protest.

The change imposed on the New Theatre may not be the last. Jobbik is campaigning and demonstrating against the Hungarian National Theatre, calling its work "obscene, pornographic, gay, anti-national and anti-Hungarian".

There is an international campaign for actors to read out a statement condemning the appointment and resserting the importance of tolerance and diversity in the arts, which the Writers' Guild supports.

Guild President David Edgar commented: 'The forced imposition of a far-right nationalist as director of a major theatre in a contemporary European capital is a highly sinister development. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Hungarian theatre-makers in opposing this decision and calling for it to be reversed'.

See also a letter in The Guardian from a wide range ofUK theatre-practitioners.