Audience enjoys “stepping” and is transported to the scene

“We are free here.” That is to say, in our country. To this end, the protagonists of the Košice Na Peróne Theatre, together with the hosting actors had to work through a number of historical ages, marked by wars, suppression, oppression, exile, censorship and the return to the free homeland, where the artists could create without someone forbidding or decreeing something.

2013_05_24_Step_By_Step_Moyzesova_Tomas_Bachura_2The Step by Step performance provided the USE THE CITY festival with a retrospective view of the past and the audience could experience for themselves the transport of Jews in carriages, from which only a few were able to save themselves and wait abroad for the day when they could return to their country and continue where they left off.

This is a strong, emotional and unusual performance in the hands of young artists who have not experienced this kind of repression, but know about it from talking, documentaries, films and books; it drew the audience into the plot in a non-jarring way and made one feel its message in such a way as it affected all of us. And suddenly everyone was an actor, without realising it. At a time when the intelligentsia in no way had it easy.

Raindrops evoked a bleak period

2013_05_24_Step_By_Step_Moyzesova_Tomas_Bachura_3The atmosphere of the USE THE CITY festival, which put the whole city on its feet, was only spoilt by the rain. That really dampened the plans of the organizers of the events that took place in the open air. Although Friday was a rainy day, and as was Thursday, when it was originally to be performed, and all to see if the sky would come to its senses. One could have guessed that evening was to be under umbrellas. It was, but one small shower didn’t change the fact that the Slovak and French artists squeezed out everything they wanted to offer the audience. And it was not water, but positive energy that flowed around the audience at full blast. The theatre on the street is, indeed, about the cold and rain too, but was mainly about the art, which they presented. The suggestive pilgrimage around the bleak period was only enhanced by each drop that fell.

Two independent theatre groups, Na Peróne from Košice and La Hors De from Lyon in France began to work together on the Step by Step project five years ago. The initial idea for the first performance together was the life and work of the genius of world literature, Košice native and personality of the European Capital of Culture of Košice 2013, Sándor Márai.

Cooperation continued and each year both groups met to create another “step”, and they created a work, the premiere of which was presented in Košice. At the residence of Lieux Publics in Marseille they worked on the theme of exile. Ships set sail from there with emigrants. Censorship was studied in Hungary, so that the resulting image of the past would be as authentic as possible. They walked step by step to subsequently offer the viewer an artistic view of events that actually happened and what artists, writers and the intelligentsia really experienced. Whether the performers managed to use the performance to say what the purpose of it was, the viewers could judge for themselves. In any event they did not disappoint. Quite the reverse, they refreshed, forced one to think, and provided a profound artistic experience, never to be forgotten.

Real-life stories

2013_05_24_Step_By_Step_Moyzesova_Tomas_Bachura_6Those who were not discouraged by the absence of a comfortable padded chair, could delve into the story of exile, identity, Europe, moving and crossing of borders, stories of lost love and life, learn about the weight of forced exile, falls and overcoming them, the clandestine and the secret from Varian Fry right in the street. Right where the destinies of people were written, whose stories were portrayed by actors in the premises of the former barracks.

The specially lit room, the large and small video projection, the showing of videos right among the audience, which had been recorded during the 5 year period of the project, the music and the professional performance of the actors, everything could be seen, heard and perceived by the spectator, who this unconventional troupe were addressing. Although “theatre” in our part of the world is still seen as a building, the Na Peróne group proved this wrong. Theatre is an art that can be presented even in a public space as evidenced by the recognition of the audience, which went home excited and rewarded the artists with big round of applause.

“The majority of audience is the informed viewer, a sympathizer with our group or one who assumes he will not see a traditional performance. In all our repertory productions we can see links between words and stage movement. In some works one dominates, in other works the other dominates, but their complementarity and condition of synergy is visible in all our works,” said one of co-founders of the independent theatre Na Peróne, Zuzana Psotková.



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