Bates to stage English-language premiere of Hungarian play

The Red Faust, a new two-act Hungarian play based on the life of the fiercely anti-communist Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty, will premiere in English at at 8 p.m. March 5, March 6, March 12 and March 13 and at 2 p.m. March 7 and March 14  in Schaeffer Theatre. Tickets are $6 for general admission and $3 for senior citizens and non-Bates students. For reservations or additional information, call the Schaeffer Theatre box office at 207-786 6161.

The Red Faust, by Zsolt Pozsgai, a two-time award winner of the annual Erno Szap Prize for best new Hungarian play, will be directed by Martin Andrucki, professor of theater at Bates. The production stars Australian actor and Budapest resident Peter Linka, who translated the production into English and who serves on the staff of the Hungarian National Academy of Drama and Film. All other actors are Bates students.

The play is a fictionalized version of the life of Mindszenty. Jailed by the fascists during World War II and sentenced to life imprisonment by the communists during 1949, the Hungarian dissident was briefly freed during the 1956 revolution. With the arrival of Soviet troops in Budapest, he sought refuge in the American embassy, where he spent the next 15 years of his life.

In this drama, the playwright imagines Mindszenty as a kind of Faust, constantly tempted by a diabolical fellow inmate to abandon his principles in exchange for freedom.

In May, as part of a Short Term unit in which students at Bates study one subject in great detail for five weeks, the Bates cast and crew will head to Hungary where they will present their English-language production at the International Buda Stage. The U.S. Embassy, where Mindszenty sought refuge, will host a reception for the Bates students during their stay.

Katalin Vecsey, a lecturer in theater at Bates with extensive Budapest connections, will accompany the group, which will study historical and political backgrounds of the play, meet with leading figures in contemporary Hungarian culture and visit relevant historical sites.

Vecsey and Andrucki originally received a special faculty development grant from Bates College to study and translate contemporary Hungarian drama and establish ongoing relationships between the college and the Budapest theater community.

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