AL 11, 1985 spring – p. 41
The group was organised under the name of Kassák House Studio by Péter Halász and Anna Koós in October 1969 in a cultural centre in one of Budapest’s outlying districts. Members:
Péter Breznyik (from 1969)
Marianne Kollár (from 1972)
István Bálint (from 1971)
Éva Buchmüller (from 1973)
Other members: László Algol, Mária Bajcsay, Dóra Bácskai, Andrea Bősze, Ernő Dobos, László Kovács, Miklós Kovács, Mária Körmendy, Péter Lajtai, Ágnes Laurenczi, János Márton, Gergely Molnár, István Nánay, Katalin Őrsi, Judit Scherter, István Szeghő, Éva Szendrei, Sándor Simon, Can Togay, Csaba Virág
CONTENTS – CHRONOLOGY
in the Kassák Cultural Centre (Budapest, XIV, Uzsoki u. 57.)
in which, not yet aiming at the shaping of personality, we performed a balladistic play with strong theatrical effects inspired by the Theatre of Cruelty.
(Written and directed by Péter Halász. The play was banned after the premiere. All the members of the troupe were part of the performance and were on stage throughout the play.)
in which, unlike in The Ballad of Two Brothers, we put together a grotesque etude series from our joint improvisations.
(Directed by Péter Halász. All the members of the troupe were part of the performance and were on stage throughout the play.)
in which, using dance-like movements and gestures as well as musical intonations of speech, we interpreted the myth of the labyrinth as games in a tight (inner and outer) space.
(Written by István Bálint, directed by Péter Halász. Music: György Kurtág Jr. All the members of the troupe were part of the performance; the roles were acted by several people taking turns.)
in which we took steps towards the creation of an autonomous style by performing an imaginary play on an open-air stage using a surreal visual environment and pop effects.
(Directed by Péter Halász. Music: László Sári, Péter Breznyik, György Kurtág Jr. The dragon and the fish were made by Péter Donáth. All the members of the troupe were part of the performance. Premiere: Rózsavölgy Park Stage, in two parts)
in which simultaneous actions take place in a structured space. This was the troupe’s first autonomous performance.
(Written by Péter Lajtai, István Bálint, Péter Halász. Directed by Péter Halász. All the members of the troupe were part of the performance.)
The play was banned and the troupe’s license was revoked.
After a joint decision we continued our theatre activity in a flat at 20 Dohány Street (flat 25 on the 4th floor – the flat of Péter Halász and Anna Koós).
in which, during the nearly 6-month rehearsal period of Murder in the Skanzen originally with the intention of augmenting it, Péter Breznyik began working on a piece that would present his ‘skanzen’ (open-air museum of ethnography) more intensely by condensing his immediate past, his past as a musician and the story of his relationship with the woman, etc. into one space. Unlike in the other plays, here only two members of the troupe played roles: on the stage they lived through the absurdities of their lives lived separately and together, from drunkenness through self-love, the intoxication of meeting and the man’s attempts at identifying with the woman all the way to disappearing in her and incarnation. For the first time, the intimacy of the private sphere was intentionally included in this play in its amorphous reality and in moments of the relationshiplessness of the presented relationship to which words cannot do justice.
During the history of our theatre we sought to come out with autonomous individual creations, where the focus is not on the process of writing-directing-acting but on that of living-thinking-theatre-living.
(Created by Péter Breznyik and Ágnes Laurenczi. In later performances Ágnes Laurenczi’s role was taken over by Anna Koós.)
in which Péter Halász does improvisations on the stories of Saint Alick, Hamlet, King Kong, the Blue Angel and Santa Claus in private flats.
in which the lost circus clown stories are replaced by fragments of everyday personal relationships. The scenes are either performed by one, two or three persons.
(Written by István Bálint. Metteur-en-scènes: Péter Halász, Péter Breznyik. Players: Péter Breznyik, Marianne Kollár, Dóra Bácskai, István Szeghő, Anna Koós. The seven clown stories are published in English and German in [libretto form by composer Péter Eötvös in] Germany.)
in which we tried to reconstruct the possible story behind a photograph in an extremely tight space.
Adolph Kurtz has had three soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. His wife asks him if he liked his breakfast. In the meantime, under the gardens the Sunday men rape a fleshy young woman who is about to have an orgasm but before she can the men lurk away in shame. (Concept by Péter Lajtai. Premiere: Balatonboglár Chapel, leased by György Galántai)
which is a holiday resort by the Danube has a sand-pit next to it, where we gave open-air performances. The police dispersed the participants on the fourth day. Some of the performances were recorded and the film is titled Six Days in Surány (16 mm, 40 mins); it was invited and screened at the 9th Biennial in Paris organised from 19 September to 2 November 1975.
during which the actors and the members of the audience put their heads through holes in a sheet horizontally stretched out. This theatre of heads was the first time when we could see a dialogue-play based on two people mutually asking each other questions.
(Concept by István Bálint. First version by Ernő Dobos, Anna Koós, István Szeghő; second version by László Algol and Péter Halász.)
in which the vertically half-naked actor is messing about with his hat and then plays with red dolls; he tries several ways of communication: silence, tape recording, reciting and improvisation.
(Péter Lajtai: The Upper Road, the Clearing, the Lower Road and the Abyss. István Bálint: Rosie Went Out to the Field. Péter Halász: improvisations)
in which we compiled a play from the poems of Miron Bialoszewski (Poland) and the texts of the dramas performed in his home in Warsaw between 1953 and 1960.
(Venue: Polish Culture of Budapest. Performed by Péter Breznyik, Péter Halász, Anna Koós)
in which an otherwise completely realistic and naturalistic situation is simultaneously shifted to the surreal by the fact that one of the elements (a cabbage on the head of one of the women) is surreal. The play was acted in both of the rooms and it was the first time we encouraged the members of the audience to move about during the play.
(Éva Buchmüller, Marianne Kollár, Anna Koós, István Bálint, Péter Halász)
in which a few actions from the eponymous play emerge. The number of objects is significantly larger, virtually inundating the place; no one uses them and the male protagonist is left alone. He performs rites, which are self-sacrifices/offerings for himself: he cuts his wrist and drinks a few drops of his blood; he performs self-castration with fake genitals: female-incarnation and reincarnation attempts. Dressed as a Russian soldier and wearing a mask, he reads extensively from a Russian war novel.
A WEEK AT THE CHAPEL IN BALATONBOGLÁR (upon the invitation of György Galántai)
1. BIRDS AND RED EPAULETS (70 mins)
which came into being through adding newly invented elements to old ones one day and instantly performing them. We later performed in the flat in other versions too.
(Péter Halász, István Bálint [birds]; Péter Breznyik [soldier], Éva Buchmüller, Can Togay [pieta], and Anna Koós and her daughter)
2. LÁSZLÓ ALGOL: THE CHEMICAL ENGINEER AND THE CONSTRUCTION FOREMAN (from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. the next day)
which was a sacred individual mythology with pop music and fire.
3. KING KONG (3 days)
in which a large monkey puppet entered our plays performed on three consecutive days (at dawn, in the following evening and in the morning of the third day). The phallus of the puppet recited texts by William Blake.
(The events of the play were invented by István Bálint, Péter Halász and Péter Breznyik (the Beautiful Lady of New York)).
which is a theatre montage assembled from real and theatrical elements-facts that are each other’s social-aesthetic-quasi-synonyms:
1. Waiting in a poorly lit, dilapidated, unheated hallway. (The performance takes place in the hallway; the players – a beggar couple – are standing at the end of the hallway, on a simple platform made with planks.)
2. A man is playing the accordion; people are singing old hits.
3. The man takes off his dark glasses and shows everyone one of his eyes overgrown with granulations.
4. The man pulls a newspaper out of his pocket and reads out an article, at times pondering about it (“The Perfect Prosthesis” in the 19th August issue of Magyar Nemzet [Hungarian Nation]), which, using the ‘familiar’ demagogue style of giving an example and a counter-example, presents that a ‘good’ disabled, a socialist disabled, is someone who can be a useful member of society even with a medium or bad prosthesis.
5. A woman takes the man’s hat around, begging for money from the audience.
in which we talked with the audience about our performances (starting form spring 1972), which were all recorded; we published the most interesting details shared about each performance.
in which we adapted the summer performance of King Kong to an urban environment. Streets, courtyards of turn-of-the-century buildings, loggias and the flat at 20 Dohány Street.
KING KONG WITH AUTUMN FLOWERS
CHRISTMAS KING KONG
We gave a performance at a dormitorium – without being invited or having permission – to demonstrate our protest against the demagogy of the festival’s title. Open Theatre: we assembled the events of the play on the spot using semi-nakedness, cutting veins, drinking bloody milk, boiling milk, beheading of men, incarnation, pieta, nursing a baby, and a dwarf.
The operation of our theatre was followed by a series of police actions throughout the year: the chapel was walled in, our passports were withdrawn, we were banned from publishing anything, insinuating articles systematically distorting actual events were issued about us without the opportunity for us to respond. Our livelihood was in danger.
which is a theatre-lyrical montage: poetry-theatre. Elements: drumming, singing, dance, poetic text read out in German by a male actor (Holderlin: Sketch on Empedocle’s Death) with simultaneous translation by a woman, ritual-symbolic actions (Marianne Kollár poured honey from a glass jug onto a glass plate on a table. Gergely Molnár strikes the middle of the honeyed-glass with an axe. Sándor Simon holds a metal rod in his hands. Katalin Őrsi, standing next to Simon, reaches out for the metal rod but is not given it, etc.) The actors have an extremely limited opportunity to express themselves; they were virtually stripped of their personalities and became component parts of the personality of Holderlin’s Empedocle.
which is a horror-comics adaptation of the biblical story. A glass wall separates the audience from the players.
(Premiere: in the Club of the National Book Distribution Company)
In this play the soldier acted by Péter Breznyik is at the focus of the film titled AN IMPERIAL MESSAGE, written and directed by László Najmányi and Péter Breznyik (35 mm, 45 mins, b&w). The other members of the troupe and photographs of earlier productions also appeared in the film.
When they get to the island, they meet the audience – children and adults – crossing the Danube, who join them. During the journey they fight off several attacks by the Saracens. They find Guido’s fiancée, who the Saracens tied to a tree. Then they meet the Dacian king, who is mourning the fate of his ill daughter and his lost empire.
(Guido, green knight: Péter Halász; Tyrius, blue knight: Éva Buchmüller; Guido’s fiancée: Anna Koós; Dacian king: Péter Breznyik; king’s daughter: Judit Scherter. Venue: Island of Szentendre (Saint Andrew)
The afternoon wind blows through the room, it is dusk, the window panes are taken out of their places. The actor – onto whom plaster was poured from head to toe – is telling jokes; candles are burning between his fingers. When it gets dark, the Jew starts singing Jewish songs and then blows out the candles.
(Created by Péter Halász)
in which the intimate-private sphere is again in focus, but this time using a comparison between everyday reality and the Bible. Before the performance begins István Bálint hands over a closed envelope to four of his fellow actors and asks them to read the texts one by one when they and the audience enter the room where the performance takes place and then leave the room.
“When we entered the room, we saw István Bálint and his wife, Marianne Kollár, naked and lying on the floor the whole time.”
The following text was read out four times:
„6. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them.
7. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
(Old Testament, Isiah 11:6–9.)
which we built in the room using wardrobes, plank-walls and windows.
The HOUSE was an alternative for the theatre. If an actor enters the House, he enters the stage: the audience stays outside and they see a ‘flat’ through the window. The actors in the House are either still or act out a planned sequences of actions: they are a waxworks museum. One of the actors on the outside comments on the events taking place inside the House: he focuses on certain movements and facial expressions in his comments, and his words bind together the parallel and even the entirely different actions of the actors: he is projecting a ‘cinema’ with his words. Existence in the House and the presence of the audience surrounding the House form a creative space for the actors: they are playing in masks.
during which six people are sitting in the House. Three of them are blowing whistles and three are listening to music. The ones listening to music suddenly start throwing cream cakes at the whistlers. Water starts running from the shower-heads fitted onto the roof of the House. The victims wash the remains of the cream cakes off themselves under the shower (40 mins). Intermission, ‘puppet theatre by Péter Halász until midnight. We demolished the house by the end of the game.
When we no longer had the opportunity to invent ‘true fiction’ and we lost the feeling of elemental joy in fiction as well as our credibility, i.e. we could not put on any other plays, we decided to ‘write’ a diary. This meant that we played something every day, on all the 365 days of the year. We played something of what occurred to us on that day and what we felt. It could be anything with the potential of elemental playing, striving to break away from the past weighing us down with its aesthetic approach and breaking out of silence. To play Anything.
in which a blind seer and a stranger are cursing while a helpless woman in a gold dress offers food, drinks and her body. The stranger is called Abraham, the blind seer is called Isaac.
In the second part they listen to music and eat.
(in two parts, created by Éva Buchmüller, István Bálint, Péter Halász)
a burlesque in which a woman tied to two puppets with her hair is washing dishes on the table.
Cast: Irina: Péter Halász; Olga: István Bálint; Masha: Péter Breznyik.
Prompter: Anna Koós
Music: Chopin: Polonez in G minor , B major , A-flat major  (performed by Halina Czemy-Stefanska), G-sharp minor  B minor , F minor , G-flat major , op. posthum. (performed by Ludvik Stefanski) [XL 0078]
Texts: only the lines of the three sisters
in which a water tank with a live fish is on the sand table. Musicians dressed in kimonos are sitting around the table and taking turns they blow the same note on their whistles. The three whistlers recite a contemporary text. A man with a harpoon is standing on the table. He skewers the fish, puts it in his hat, puts the hat with the fish in it on his head and leaves.
(István Bálint, Péter Breznyik, Marianne Kollár, Péter Halász)
After one and a half years of preparations, we finally developed the first version of the Don Juan theme.
The play was a non-critical response to the performances “The Wolf Will Live with the Lamb” and the “Three Sisters”.
(Péter Breznyik, Marianne Kollár, Anna Koós)
74 mins, 16 mm, b&w film
Péter Breznyik– Anna Koós–Marianne Kollár trio
(the makers of the film)
cinematographer – Gábor Dobos
one-eyed giant baby – Éva Koós
four-faced knight – Éva Buchmüller
the knights page – Eszter Bálint
nun – Ernő Dobos
nun-monkey – Andrea Bősze
hunter exhibitionist – Péter Halász
necrophyliac – István Bálint
coprophiliac – Péter Donáth
dwarf – Péter Rácz
his foster child – Borbála Major
There is a camp fire lit in the room. Three men in dark clothes and hats are sitting under the window with their backs turned to the audience. They are singing trendy Hungarian hits. One of them stands up and steps out through the window. The other one pulls his trousers down and asks the third person (a woman) to dance with him. The first man returns and asks the woman to dance with him. The fire dies out.
(István Bálint, Éva Buchmüller, Péter Halász)
in which the music of Stone Guest (opera by Dargomyzhsky) is to be heard. There is a man covered in white feathers, a woman in black and a ten-year-old girl. The woman is teaching the girl to speak without sound. A brief, agitated exchange takes place between the man and the woman. The man covered in feathers whispers something in the little girl’s ears, dances with her and fights with fiery swords. The man and the woman retreat into the tent. Only the child stays outside by the fire.
(István Bálint, Marianne Kollár, Borbála Major)
in which two beggars move in to live under the table used for washing-up; then they take away the woman doing the dishes on the table and meet a man with a scar.
(Péter Breznyik, Marianne Kollár, Anna Koós, Péter Halász, Éva Buchmüller)
KEEP WASHING UP AND BEWARE OF THE WOMAN (50 mins)
in which one ‘dweller’ remains under the table: he forces himself onto the table and keeps bugging the dish-washer woman so long that in the end she puts him on her back and takes him away.
(Anna Koós, Marianne Kollár)