Exile and territory | Kornel Mundruzcó

In my understanding, the ancient duty and definition of theatre we all learn about and treat as common knowledge, is lost. I don’t consider theatre a forum, nor a mirror and least of all a hammer of ideologies. The illusion that theatre serves these functions is what keeps it alive, but real plays (if we, in fact, believe that theatre creates true art pieces) cannot work alongside these ethea these days.

I’m convinced that my disappointment over this fact is the one that lead me to theatre in the first place. This contradiction, the creation of something new atop its ruins, carried freedom in my eyes. Once I described what theatre means to me by comparing it to a free fall: atrocious danger offering eternal liberty. It’s like a rabbit hole, through which one can discover an entire new world. Theatre means a territory and an exile to me: it is a self-inflicted exile to a new territory, to open it up, wander around in it trying to figure out how to make it relatable for the audience.

Since theatre deals with abstract notions, it utilises a classical expressive language. The stories, characters and the truth they hold have been eliminated from the 20th century theatre scene, and removed from theatre’s history. The authenticity of the story and characters is an eliminated notion. Theatre is always auteur, regardless of the already existing text. It’s not adaptive, it reaches back to a format that doesn’t originate from the 20th century. Finding the common and mutual stories is the task, not adapting and processing the mutual heritage. The ruins aren’t the building blocks to create something new, but they do provide a foundation for constructing something new altogether. The crisis of theatre partially derives from the loss of its ethea, furthermore from the crisis of representation and the political nature of it.

I always thought of the audience as the most interesting element and if I want to elaborate further, it’s the act of watching that interests me the most. To understand and give a perspective to where they watch it all from. Defining this is the most crucial to me.

Theatre has lost the war against other media such as journalism and the internet, streaming sites and TV series. Nonetheless, in this extinguished, almost superfluous position it has gained its true context. When we spend time in this dark place, in the self-inflicted exile and we discover a whole

new territory – this is what is addictive about theatre to me and I believe it can break all rules and boundaries again and again. To me, in its physical reality and primitive truthfulness, theatre is eternal.

Kornel Mundruzcó is a Hungarian director and writer. With his films he won numerous international awards, i.a. in Cannes and Locarno. In his productions for film and theatre, he condenses social and political phenomena into shocking, often surreal scenarios. His plays have been shown i.a. at the Festival d’Avignon, Adelaide Festival, Ruhrtriennale.