Kornélia Deres (HU) - Whose story and why? Documentary theatre and its protagonists.


Although documentary theatre has not become a popular genre in contemporary Hungarian theatre, the few examples still raise the question: whose stories are being represented in these productions? Or: whose stories are interesting and important enough in a given socio-cultural context to make them protagonists of documentary pieces? Is it a specific cultural identity or an extraordinary story that makes a good documentary topic? In a way, each topical choice reflects the hidden presuppositions of a theatrical tradition, and at the same time the politicality of perception, i.e. perceiving reality.


My claim is that Hungarian theatre found two main reasons for using documentary forms: the first is the reinforcement and reflection of national cultural tradition (such as Örkény Theatre’s Nyugat 2008-1908 and Katona József Theatre’s Notóriusok); the second is the reflection on contemporary social problems (for instance PanoDrama’s Word for word, news-theatre and some projects of Krétakör). I will discuss these various reasons in connection with the role of memory (social, national, cultural, personal), media (framing techniques, legitimate narratives), written and oral documents. Furthermore, when examining the protagonists of documentary theatre, the aspect of who is talking about their stories to what audience should be taken into consideration as well. Since it is a shared discourse accepted by a community that defines reality, the basis of documentary forms.