The dramaturgy of space in Maladype’s productions

A short essay by Michel Foucault on the changes of meaning and subsistence of space was only published posthumously, in the eighties,[1] and has therefore not been included in the official corpus of his work. The topic had probably occupied him for almost twenty years, as he lectured on it as early as the sixties. It will, however, I dare say, occupy us for a very long time yet, as the phenomena of today’s theatre and stage practice may be described in revelatory fashion by his fundamental conclusions.

The name given to the concept that Foucault introduces is heterotopia. Briefly put, it designates spaces which are situated inside actual socio-cultural spaces while functioning as counter-frameworks or utopias which have been realised. Either ironically, or only by putting the socio-cultural present in quotation marks. Or by somehow departing from customary, everyday space-time, for heterotopia, in terms of meaning, also has time. Its own time accelerates, decelerates, is suspended or stops, according to its function of the moment. The writer gives as examples cemeteries, ships, a recruit barracks, gardens and holiday villages. And spaces of purification: baths, Turkish baths. He also refers to the theatre. Cursorily. But let us restrict ourselves to the consideration of topics, the particular or special nature of situations and locations, the relativisation of time – all of which is the open definition of theatre itself, at the same time practical and philosophical.


New rites, new cosmologies (The School for Buffoons, Empedocles, Theomachia, Acropolis, Inferno).

Since Eliade[2] we have been thoroughly aware that a rite is a sacral series of actions, repeating the act of creation of the Universe, which excludes us from profane space-time and guides us towards the dimension of holy eternity. It is a religious experience  of existence which makes time cyclical in so far as it repeatedly returns it to the original act of the Creation, and consecrates the space to the time of the rite, transforming it, for this ceremony which divides profane-linear time, into the axis mundi, the ontologically specified place of the birth of the Cosmos. Everyone is a partaker in rite, everyone is a partaker in holy festivals, the sacral time and space that disrupt profanity.

A number of Maladype productions – especially those of the first five years, and Inferno, which closed the decade – have had much in common with rite. It would, however, be incorrect to regard them as such. In my opinion, the complete performance itself echoes actions which, in terms of form or thought, resemble rite, while at the same time indicating that this is the place not for divine metaphysics but of imagination. It creates other worlds which open up to the spectator very many associative spaces while constantly harking back to our current situation.

For the most part, The School for Buffoons takes place around a huge, oval, glass-topped table, on which twelve chalices in twelve glowing colours dazzle the spectator while the twelve disciples await the arrival of the master, Galgüt. The allusion to Jesus and the image of the Last Supper are so obvious and yet refined that it is enough to allude to them. The entire network of references stretches between mystery or knowledge as a metaphysical experience, the wildly broad range of master-disciple relationships, and the figure of the master as it shifts between the roles of untouchable and sacrificial victim. The language of the ceremony is Latin, as is that of the ecclesiastical texts that preserve the mystical element of medieval Christianity and its unattainable, inconceivable metaphor, of the evocative chanting, and of the mystery, the revelation of which the twelve disciples, monk-like in yellow and black habits, await with impatience so unrestrained that they would even sacrifice their master’s life in their raging thirst. The huge and at the same time fragile table is a metaphor for the master, the small, bald old man who tumbles this way and that, and who, by the end of the cruel, murderous play is transfigured into a vulnerable red-headed girl. As she is hunted to death by the madding crowd of disciples, the table too moves from the focus of our attention. Our perception snaps over from the unavoidable, static, glass construction which has been appropriating the space in an almost crippling manner to the profane reality of the venue of the performance: as the persecuted girl tears down the curtain on the huge window we spectators gaze in astonishment on the reality of the present day, the sight of a late evening in twenty-first-century Budapest.

As in the case of most Maladype productions, Judit Gombár has designed a set both exceptionally intelligent and – I definitely feel – passionate. It contrasts sacral, timeless, fixed order with the godless chaos of our everyday lives. Thanks to the always precise and sensitive work of dramaturg Judit Góczán, the languages say, in that highly polished system, what the rhythmics of space and time require: the disciples speak in Lovári, the ceremony is conducted in Latin, while Galgüt and his treacherous lieutenant Folial speak Hungarian, thus making us spectators parties to the dialogue with the master. It thus quickly proves to be one of the biggest Parthian shots in the performance, that behind the words which we too can finally understand the meta-language says precisely the opposite: the gambolling, somersaulting gnome seems to evade every word that Folial says, as if to arouse mistrust and obscurity in contrast to the eventually comprehensible words. Finally it becomes clear that his whole existence has been a deception, as the treacherous Folial has actually killed the real Galgüt in a previous attack, and so his daughter has assumed his entire personality, therefore pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes, and she is the ephemeral, red-headed creature who is hunted down in the dénouement.

A series of transpositions in rite, theatre, place and sacrality: scenery is pared away, falsehoods of language are peeled off and wigs and costumes stripped from life in the raw. This, however, is no ancient rite by which we could bring rain, not even a theatrical reference to it for the sake of consensus, as for example in the case of the ancient Greeks, where necromancy, lamentation, sacrifices to the gods, even if within a theatrical framework, in fact repeated a series of actions familiar and current in the society of the time. Nor is it identical with the ceremonial theatre of József Ruszt or the Tamás Fodor production of Woyzeck at Stúdió K, in which the audience were actually so physically close to the murder of Marie that they imagined themselves almost accomplices in it.

Two years later Empedocles, just like The School for Buffoons – and other productions by Maladype and Zoltán Balázs – presents ritual acts fundamentally transposed. Above all, it shows no precise conformity with any rite that might, clearly and in such a manner, be found either in the movements of our life today or in our cultural history. There is no sacral order with which it is identical. In its place there are composite systems, derived from numerous cultural circles, expressly characteristic of the given production; in Empedocles the likewise dominant, now white-clothed, lengthy table delimits the places and movements of the characters, it gives structure to the space, at first sight static. One character lays the table in ceremonious fashion, slowly and with measured tread, forming a background, so to speak, while the real action takes place. He lays for thirteen – once more, an allusion to Jesus and his disciples. Meanwhile the story of Empedocles is the point, his attempt to achieve divine life through suicide; that Empedocles who, in the ancient Greek world, lived on what seemed the perfectly natural boundary between mythical and historical past. Who was myth and reality rolled into one; both parable and human history. But, of course, his tragedy lies in the fact that he is not a god, merely wishes to become one. He suffers from hubris, imagines that his existence is more than it entitles him to. And what is more natural – after The School for Buffoons, luxuriating in coloured glasses and ending with the hero(ine) being driven into the depths of the abyss – than that Empedocles, who according to history throws himself into lava-filled crater of Etna, should here and now take in his hand the overflowing glass, like Socrates, compelled to drain the draft of hemlock. It is a blend of history, myth and legend, and of canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The production constructs its own mythology for internal use, and creates rites to match which are valid there and in that context alone. Never anywhere else.

Theomachia, which, in terms of chronology, Zoltán Balázs directed between the two performances mentioned above as a joint Maladype-Bárka Theatre production, is reminiscent of The School for Buffoons in its theme of transfer of power and the coming of a new world-order, and of Empedocles in its Greek subject and mythical  perspectives. There is a certain similarity of form to the great European theatrical beginnings: the chorus of the Curetes sings and dances around the raging Cronos, who is demanding his newborn son, Zeus, in order to make an end of him before he endangers his power. The newborn Zeus appears on stage at the very last moment, and his mere presence signifies the arrival of the new world. At this point we are deeply immersed in Greek myths and cosmogony – a prehistoric world, and its very turning-point: Cronos, who has recently dethroned his father Uranos, would now like to escape precisely that fate himself. There is hardly a spectator that can be surprised at the dénouement, according to which Zeus soon becomes ruler of Olympus and the world. That, therefore, is not what really matters, but once again those extraordinarily significant différances [3]because of which neither is the whole performance simply a piece of Greek tragedy and a simulated performance, nor may we regard the events that take place as rites. A tour de force in the production, and at the same time a snub to Ancient Greek acting, is that Ilona Béres, most notable of Hungarian actresses in terms of female voice and the ability to convey female principle, plays Cronos, the cruel, patriarchal father-god, prepared to kill even his son for the sake of power. Her pleasant voice is deformed in a deliberately hoarse articulation, the garish lines of a Far-Eastern mask, perhaps Japanese, conceal her gentle features. She is just as much the centre of the world as Empedocles, only he wanted to die, whereas Cronos means to murder. Curetes dance around – the sword-dance and song of five dark red men in pseudo-oriental military dress. They flow around the space and the motionless tyrant, high on his pedestal, like a liquid. On this occasion the space seems to emphasise the comparison with the Greek.  But it is still deceiving us: this is no copy. These are neither Greeks, Hungarians, nor Japanese. The central character is not human, but less than a god, as the world is breaking up around him, turning against him. The new ruler of the world, Zeus, comes to power in a moment when all is lost. The world order has moved, and who can say that it will not be like this from now on? Only today can we realise this. Only deconstruction, ironic dissection, table-laying, can know this. It is a counter-rite. The revelation of differences.

Akropolis, of which Sándor Zsótér and Zoltán Balázs each directed two acts – each with its own cast – is a real examination of the European culture-circle, system of thought, world of belief and sacral present, crumbling and collapsing as they are at all points.[4] Wyspiański sets the four acts, which may be regarded as semi-Greek, semi-biblical, in the frame of Kraków cathedral; my perception is that the experiment brings decadence itself on stage –  how far are we now from any common metaphysical wavelength? I am strongly reminded of Sándor Zsótér’s first Wyspiański production, November Night, which he staged in Szolnok in 1994, and faced with which part of the audience sat in uncomprehending fury – they would have liked to see a plot with beginning, middle and end, that is rather a copy of the world in which they felt as much at home as in the few square metres of their own kitchens and living-rooms. Both then and now the spectator is pushed to the limits of what he can accept in the joint undertaking of the two directors. But both then and now the creation of the world in the work is a tremendous feat which, in perspective, conceals in itself countless openings for perception and understanding.

Finally, however, the last production in the course of the decade, Inferno, brings back the form based on the static-mobile dichotomy, whereby the whole world revolves around a highly significant elevated place or character. The Poet sits on a high throne, on a pedestal, and at his back is Vergil, the imperturbable spirit guide, whose being Andrea Ladányi’s full powers as dancer and performing artist have carved almost into a statue, yet condensed it into a powerful, concentrated presence. Meanwhile the scenes of the pit of Hell rise amoeba-like around them on the stage: heads that emerge again and again from the black sheeting are the fearsome, sometimes risible, monuments of an infernal puppet-show, the erstwhile villainies and present petty lamentations of spirits almost crammed into a mass and looking back over their lives. In the raised space of the Trafó auditorium, however, the theatre audience can look at both: those tormented in Hell and the two visitors contemplating them – the poets Dante and Vergil. The performance is ritual in nature because it is a counter-rite. The assessment of the world – hopelessly distanced from the concept of holiness – is bitter, ironic.

It is a feature common to the above productions that they display very significant shifts in comparison with Eliade’s concepts: each of them undermines the defintion of classic rite at some point. Either the play is based on an ancient Greek theme with Far-Eastern or present-day allusions, or perhaps immersed in other cultural areas (Theomachia, Empedocles, Acropolis), or likened to Christian ceremonies that seem familiar to us (The School for Buffoons, Inferno), whereas it does not naturally identify with allusions to any. It does not fit completely into any cultural area or system. The elements are brought together, worlds are constructed from them, and they are set before us. Sometimes it keeps its distance. The spectator has to step back a pace in order to understand. Cold, formalist, we might say. In fact, in order to put together the big, manifold puzzle in space, time and cultures we need to put our logical thinking to work somewhat. On the other hand, we can be guided by our feelings into the world of performances. The dramaturg Judit Góczán’s work is perhaps at its finest, most perfect in the above productions: that is, she divides the script into different languages. Here there is Hungarian, here Latin, there Lovári. The musical qualities of Latin and Lovári can touch our senses – the one evokes majestic harmonies rising in sustained chords in the cathedral, the other is permeated by a loose naturalness, very close and yet appearing as something alien. It is as if artists have said sometimes: ‘You don’t have to understand’, or, more precisely, ‘The point is, not to understand’. And there are places where language runs over into the zone of sense, not consciousness: it is declaimed, sung, delivered recitativo, or although there are words and names it dissolves deconstructed into vowels. Almost as if it is telling us to do nothing but resonate to rhythm and tone. The musicality of the performances is interwoven – by musical director László Sáry – now with words, now with movement, by means of which we could probably take down the whole performance in musical notation. We choose the form and quality of sympathy, however, choose how much of these created rites and in what way we would like to accept and receive. There are no guidelines, no golden rule. It is to be construed as: dear spectator, take part in the creation of the world!


Private mythology and black mass: the Different. (Jacques or Obedience, The Blacks)

The broad concept of alienness is perhaps the one most exciting artistic subject, because we can stare at our own world from the point of view of the Martian, play at repeating an everyday word until it loses its meaning and becomes a chance sequence of vowels. We can immerse ourselves in the realm of new languages and cultures in which we then enjoy the role of outsider or, in paradoxical fashion, of belonging. One moment the world is familiar, next alien, or we ourselves are. I am thinking in particular of two Maladype productions in which the alien quality of the world or ourselves is shaken up as it were in a test-tube, while the experiment evaporates nicely from the chemical apparatus into our lungs. Outside and inside, alien and familiar are intermingled, or change places – which is sometimes the same thing: it is an exciting experiment, one worth carrying out.

Jacques, ou la soumission is the first encounter of the recently organized Maladype and Zoltán Balázs. It is at the same time a worthy reworking of the playful-mocking-embarrassing Ionesco text. It is an elaborate and witty fabric of that apparent black-and-white which is present in the whole visible world – Judit Gombár too once again joins the company as a creative companion. The characters speak Lovári – for quite a long time. They are dressed from head to foot in white, with white fluffy wigs; they are a family. They can only move together, as if they have grown into a single living being or mass, as if they defend each other, have no separate existence. The playing-space becomes fluid, and they surge and flow like a family steeped in the warmth of one another, in their own gestures and texts. And perhaps they do not move of their own free will, as a boy sitting on the stage with a tin can beats out the rhythm, arousing in the audience the suspicion that by his wordless presence he is working the puppets here. Jacques, the recalcitrant boy, sits opposite him in a plexi-cage, very immobile. Perhaps he is a prisoner, because members of the family constantly look in through the holes in the cage and try to persuade him to fit in. He is a real black sheep: a black fez on his head, black trousers, his upper body bare and defenceless, and he has no inclination to give up his individuality. He is cut off. Or he is cutting off the rest. Those that cannot understand a word that he says. What an ironic situation: the family has its own internal laws, which may seem idiotic to outsiders, but part of it is the Lovári language, the native language of the great majority of Hungarian Roma. So are we to call them ‘other’? Foreign? Not for a moment does the performance contain any kind of direct social reference. Here and now Lovári is the different language, one that we do not understand. And yet, nevertheless, we somehow begin to understand this strangely-moving family, because they want what every middle-class family wants: that their children may have a future, money, marriage. The strange fiancée appears, and of course has a different attitude to Jacques, who ventures out for the first time for her sake – her family, apart from her, speak only Hungarian. Then the two of them happily go into the plexi-cage, of their own accord. There they find no peace because the conformist family squeeze in after them, and in the final moments we have the impression that in there no one can whisper any longer. We have tried to identify with one side or the other (changeable, for the most part, which is an even greater trap), and now we are stuck. Further layers can be removed, like the skin of Peer Gynt’s onion. It is a mixture, sometimes delightful, sometimes stifling, of the person within us, the person in the family, the societal, the cultural, and the foreign and the familiar in language.


At first sight The Blacks too seems bi-polar, and like Jacques or Obedience it repeats in its internal system at so many levels and in so many ways the dichotomy that in the end we find ourselves in a room lavishly lined with mirrors (and of course Foucault calls the mirror too a heterotopia, at once in the immediate vicinity of the theatre), and in fact we have no idea whether we are black or white, good or evil, murderers or victims. The space is like an arena, in which the spectator bends forward on steeply raked seating to get a better view of the murderous – and murderously beautiful – contest. Murderously beautiful, because the spectacle and sound of it are a real delight to the senses: a white girl and a black boy, whose analogous characters run through the performance in flesh-coloured clothing. A clan of blacks and a clan of whites opposite one another enclose the spectators who sit around the tiny battle-field. We too are therefore in the play. In the murder. In the conjuring up of Evil. In the pursuit to extremes. In this black-white, yes-no world, however, everything is interchangeable, indeed, slips to and fro. For example, the voices, to begin with: those that charge the black boy with murdering the white girl and those that stir up feeling against the whites in equal proportion. As the instigators open their mouths, they do not speak in their own voices, but the opera singers in the very front row around the arena sing – László Sáry’s work, which has been a feature of all the company’s productions, now rises to an operatic level. And like the whole world-order, so too the pitch of voices is dislocated: women sing tenor and bass, men sing soprano. The murder takes place, naturally – before it there is a little Jacques-ish intermezzo, in which the boy kneels and declares his love for the girl. Then, all the same, he commits murder. A momentary calm descends, as we have been waiting for this since the beginning. Then preparations: everyone changes places. Blacks and whites, murderers and victims. Genet does not hesitate to call his work buffoonery. And straight away, as a genre: it is a black mass. This too is a rite. Only not a world-creating one. It is the opposite of its theatrical display, which precisely deconstructs the ceremonial of discord and relativises it by means of the reversals. It creates the counter-mythology of hatred.


Something else happens in Les nègres which may give rise to suspicion that  a further step has been taken. The director Zoltán Balázs sits with us in the auditorium and takes upon himself the role of master of ceremonies. He is in ordinary clothes, no different from us, but holds a microphone, and as the one familiar with the ceremonial of hatred and discord, and the course that it takes, from time to time he almost dictates what is to be done. Many people compare this to the presence of Tadeusz Kantor in his own productions as master of ceremonies or conductor. In future, however, we are to go farther still, to the point at which in certain situations we ourselves, the spectators, can direct the performance.


Playfulness and interventions.(Leonce and Lena, Egg(s)Hell, Ubu King, Lorenzaccio, The Marriage of Figaro, Platonov)


In what follows I shall proceed moderately in giving information on productions, partly because over the last three or four years Maladype has been conspicuously better documented, and partly because there has been in the plays a common creative gesture worthy of mention and to which it is worthwhile devoting special emphasis. The company itself, and at intervals reception too, has  experienced the period beginning with the production of Leonce and Lena as a turning-point, a change, since – really – the corpus that has come into existence through them seems to be taking shape both in outward form and in language. If I consider the mixture of reality, both genuine and fictional, of the worlds created in the theatre, I do not think that such a sharp turning ensued in the aesthetics of the company. The richly woven web of associations that earlier offered opportunity for a hundred different interpretations and feelings enabled each individual spectator to interpret and read the performance in his own way. To put it very simply: of the sum total of the experiences heard and seen, each performance, of the countless possibilities on offer, has taken place in the mind of every single spectator. What happens in later productions, however, is that the company has taken a step nearer to the audience, and involves them in the interpretation – and what is more, the shaping – of the work, much more actively and at the same time, with regard to each production, more conclusively, more definitively and more decisively.

The basis of Leonce and Lena as a play is that we ourselves, the audience, are to combine sarcastically formulated scenes from the plot of Romeo and Juliet as if we were sitting in a restaurant, menu in hand, and composing our dinner of the day from dishes prepared from basic materials in a variety of ways according to taste. Here there are scenes consisting of only vowels, only improvisation or mainly acrobatic elements. Every evening is different, every menu is new, always, the style of every scene is open to discussion. The basic plot goes its own way, in so far as it must – to some extent, therefore, simplifying the Büchner plot. The idea is rather that we should to some extent have the role that Zoltán Balázs had a couple of years ago in his production of The Blacks. Handle the material and shape it to some extent. The actors – who have undergone training in situation-recognition, improvisation and joint creativity, if not otherwise, then in connection with the preceding performances – will not be put out for a moment; they will speak precisely the theatrical dialect that is asked of them that evening. We are outside, but at the same time also inside the great happening, the act of creation. We almost forget the story itself. The game is the thing, this is the opportunity for me to form it and be formed by it, this is inside and outside. Then the end of the performance is the two loving marriages, but not only that; the actors select a girl and a boy in the audience and the boot is on the other foot. Up to this point we spectators have been able to direct them, but now it seems that the confidence born of shared experience offers the opportunity for the situation to be reversed in the final moments. The boy and girl step from the auditorium onto the stage – it was a great feeling to see two such very young people of about the age at which these games are cautiously and sacredly present in their lives. The two selected are amicably urged into the scene, and a slow merry-go-round is formed from bamboo poles – which have been handled with skill and frequently with acrobatic agility during the performance – and the arms and bodies of the actors, on which the couple take their places. After a brief and humorous marriage ceremony the merry-go-round turns; the two spectators sit on it – now, by the standards of the performance they are man and wife. Of course, the whole thing is a game. And of course, it is true.

From this point of view Egg(s)Hell  is the companion, counterpart, or even the opposite of Leonce and Lena. In this case, in keeping with Weöres’s poem (which consists of the title alone) the dramatic text is not spoken. Space and objects, as in the other production, are likewise minimalist – therefore they can be transformed into simply anything by acting. The performers are in black, as if to indicate that the emphasis is on means of actorly expression –”no costumes, please, we can act anything”. There are fragility and transience and artificiality in the pink plastic flamingos, fragility and life in the real eggs. These last are smashed on the floor now and then. Sometimes they are thrown at the audience, and back. The music changes, almost from one performance to another. The same goes for the open choreography. It is gracefulness. A game. Eggs. A game. Nothing more, that is all. As simply and clearly as Weöres knew how.

In the above two, the intervention is obvious: the influence on the performance of external intentions. That is to say, this is the substantive rule of the two productions; beyond certain defined frameworks any outside influence shapes and rewrites the production. Each distinct production is a new creation, the child of circumstance.

There is, on the other hand, an interventional approach in the arts, by which the artist establishes contact with a communal or private space that previously exists in some form, in such a way that a new creation comes into being which reflects and comments on the earlier.

Ubu King, Lorenzaccio and The Marriage of Figaro (the last two directed by Sándor Zsótér), however, go a very long way in the artistic occupation of the environment which was originally intended or used for something else. If we want to see it, we have to step into a pleasant down-town bourgeois flat with nice white-painted walls and the original doors and windows. (Let us not forget: this is no longer the politically persecuted flat-theatre of the 60s and 70s, to which the intelligentsia resorted for more or less muted protest!)

I am not quite sure to what extent a flat in which theatre is performed may be regarded as a public space. Or a private one, come to that. Only because I am talking about a bourgeois flat in Budapest, and its original rooms have been left in place – I almost have a panic-attack the first time I go in: what will happen if these people crowd into my place with their theatre one fine day? So, it is what seems to be a personal space. But meanwhile it is also a communal space, because the occupants are not this one and that, but it is the company’s work-place. And then, when there is a performance and the public are admitted, it becomes a theatre. Anyone that buys a ticket can come in. One is helped off with one’s coat, it is hung up, the toilets are properly seen to. I think that there are tea and water for those that want them. It’s as if we were paying someone a visit. On the other hand, there is scenery: what is a great heap of tabloids doing in a flat? Answer: this is the whole location of Ubu King, a little acting space jammed into a corner where entire worlds come to life, the reality of today mingles with the play, the papers can be folded into props or characters, and the spectator forgets that the Spartan bench is torturing his backside. And what are all those red gloves for? Those are the set of Lorenzaccio, its costumes, its metaphor, its mighty dragon, which will once and for all put an end to the rebellious hero. And it is nothing special; even in its costumes The Marriage of Figaro scarcely relates to any other world. And we just sit there among actors who reach into the souls of characters that set out their lives before us as they come and go, live and die, marry and protest.

(Platonov has been left out of the reckoning because it is hard to pin it down as concerns space. The play, whole-heartedly performed in the Thália studio hall, carries in it the death-leap of The School for Buffoons and Empedocles in so far as a fixed, mighty object occupies its focal point: in this case, it is a billiard table. The players play. Billiards. Pretentiously or desperately, calculatedly or clumsily. And meanwhile life goes on. Just the same. Which, as we know, with Chekhov is not a simple matter. Where I saw the performance it fascinated me. And yet, when I compare it now a thought constantly recurs which I first had when I saw Ubu in the flat known as The Base, and the billiard table for the Platonov rehearsals was dominating the ante-room. Since then, I regret to say, I would also like to see this production in the flat.)

When it is over, we are back at a stroke in the Budapest flat, a couple of kind attendants help us to find our things and ways to reel out into the public street. But what does ‘public street’ mean after all that? The flat is a public place, the play is a public place. It is only physically that it does not seem so. The players’ thoughts and feelings in this vicinity, this context, are a public space. We can stroll in and out.


In conclusion

This is no mathematical calculation at the end of which I could, overcome by the joy of achievement, put down my pencil, see the theorem proved and exclaim: done it! In a word, the theatre is heterotopia. (But on the other hand, mathematics is not so simple and unequivocal either – far from it.)

Or rather: well, of course, whether in the form of discord, language, rite void or bandied about or just individual, these productions contain our lives, our social being. They conjure up every treasure and accretion, good and bad, stored in our culture. The essence of what we think, know and feel about the world is in the way we look at it. And the same can be said of any good theatrical performance.

To put it plainly, therefore, I have chosen the concept of heterotopia as a golden thread linking the Maladype productions because their internal and external circumstances and the changes in them all illustrate as it were in parable fashion Foucault’s proposed concept on aspects of space. It delineates and bears like a map on the body of its ten years of life the sum total of internal promptings and environmental influences, enfolds in itself a sort of world-copy, while also setting close beside it an other-world. In brief, it symbolises in vital manner the whole passionate world-utterance and its unfailing, ceaseless questioning.

In: Huszár, S & Sebestyén, R (eds) in: Maladype 10 Év/Years. Budapest, (A bilingual: Hungarian-English edition), pp. 162-171. Engl. transl. by Adams, B.


[1]    The original title of the text, Des Espaces Autres, first published by the French periodical Architecture/Mouvement/Continuité in October 1984, was the basis of a lecture given by Michel Foucault in March 1967. An English translation by Jay Miskowiec entitled Of Other Spaces appeared in Diacritics 16 (spring 1986) pp. 22–27.

[2]  Mircea Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (trans. Willard R. Trask), Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1961 and The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (trans. Willard R. Trask), Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1971.

[3] In English: Jacques Derrida, Différance translated by Alan Bass, Margins of Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp 3-27.

[4]    This cannot be better put than in György Karsai’s critique: ‘The material world of a market display of bric-a-brac and junk makes the solemnity of the cathedral of Kraków, reminiscent of a monumental graveyard in uniform grey, into a tumultuous grotesque. We are in a labyrinth studded with little plastic hearts glittering with laser lights, in which the lovers that meet use what are essentially church pews as either school benches or prie-Dieu.’ György Karsai: Multidiszciplinaritás (Multidisciplinarity) in Színház, February 2007.