A theater's journey from Dohány utca's living-room to Squat's storefront in Rotterdam and New York

February 1, 2011 - 17:30 - 19:00
Nador u. 11
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Open to the Public
Center for Arts and Culture (CAC)
Department of History
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A theater's journey from Dohány utca's living-room to Squat's storefront in Rotterdam and New York

A theater's journey from Dohány utca's living-room to Squat's storefront in Rotterdam and New York -- from Eastern Europe's counterculture underground to the experimental avant-garde scene in the West

Anna Koós (b. 1948) is the author of two books – A Legacy Unasked For (2006) and Theatrical Stories (2009). Graduating from ELTE, she was a co-founder of the independent theater collective that went underground, left Hungary for go...od, and kept together until 1985. From 1977 to 2001, Anna had her permanent home in New York. For ten years now, she has been dividing her time between her family overseas and Budapest.

A selection of journal critiques on Squat Theatre
Recommended readings:
Eva Buchmüller and Anna Koós, Squat Theatre, New York, 1996.
Catalog accompanying the exhibition "Mr. Dead & Mrs. Free, a history of Squat Theatre" held at Artists Space, March 30-May 25, 1996.
Anna Koós, Színházi történetek - szobában kirakatban, [Theatrical stories - from living room and shop window], Budapest, 2009.

"In a nutshell. We began to recruit our own independent theater company in the fall of 1969 – Peter Halasz, a law school graduate and me, a junior in liberal arts. Soon enough our performances were banned from stage and we ended up performing mostly in our living-room. After four years of being subjected to harassment the core of the company left the country in early 1976. We were: Istvan Balint, Peter Berg (alias Breznyik), Eva Buchmuller, Peter Halasz, Marianne Kollar, and I, along with four children aged 3 to 10. Our collective life, on stage and off, continued in Western Europe and in the city of New York until the original company finally disbanded in 1985. We became known under different names, depending on the period: from 1970 to 1972 Kassák studio; for the ensuing four years, in the era of banishment, Dohány-utca, or living-room theater, apartment theater; and, from 1977 to 1985 in exile or emigration, Squat theatre, or storefront theater...

We can all agree that we could not fulfill the dictatorial period’s ideological and cultural expectations even if we had wanted to. We became socialized into the sixties’ counterculture, which meant the seventies in Hungary’s timing; and no matter what, our theater became a countertheater. A network of friends and acquaintances evolved around us, assuring immediate reflection, criticism and expectations. All that sounds smooth and almost “normal” yet Budapest was not London or New York where outsiders were not outcasts but part of the social fabric..."

Theatrical Stories – from living-room to storefront
Excerpts by the author, Anna Koós
Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 2009
(the original title is: Színházi történetek – szobában, kirakatban)

The lecture is part of the course Countercultures in the'East Bloc' and former Yugoslavia, 1960-1990.