’Let’s make a good theatre.’

A talk with Béla Szerednyey

Béla Szerednyey has played in the House of Arts several times but he has other attachments to Gödöllő, too. What is more he was awarded by the Budapest-Pest County Regional Prima Primissima Award in the Hungarian Theatre and Film Arts category in the Royal Palace in November. Béla Szerednyey is rightly popular in our town where the audience could meet him in December at the premiere of the four character comedy based on a true story Moonlight and Magnolias. This is what we are asking him about.

After reading the summary of the play Moonlight and Magnolias I had the feeling that you will appear in several roles during the play… Since this is a story with many characters …

Yet, it is not so. I actually play the producer David O. Selznick, who was a real person. It is true that at times I cite some other characters but it requires minimal transformations. For example sometimes I show my writer friend how Scarlett behaves in a certain situation to help him understand but it is not a real separate part, not like in The Blonde Cyclone where I form many different characters. The story of this comedy, Moonlight and Magnolias, is that the producer played by me makes the writer Ben Hecht – played by Attila Magyar – to write the screenplay of the novel Gone with the Wind for a film in a very short time, during one night but Ben hasn’t read the book yet. So the producer and the chosen director of the film, who is actually a real figure, too, Victor  Fleming – played by András Csonka  – and the two of us tell our writer friend what Gone with the Wind is about. This is what we play with all the characters.

You have already worked with the full cast of the performance. How inspiring is it to be with the same people?

Vajk Szente, who is the director of the play this time, is very creative. When Vajk chooses something he always writes something into the play, which is good because he is a very good writer. He is good at writing roles, dialogues and scenes. We have been old colleagues with András Csonka and Attila Magyar; I play with one of them in The Blonde Cyclone and in The Dream Car with the other. We like playing together.

A new theatre opened with this premiere, the Fórum Theatre. How much chance does a new theatre have these days? Is it brave to found a theatre?

As an actor I absolutely support it. If it is economically profitable or not, I don’t know, it is not my job. I personally experience that theatres do well in Budapest. I don’t know why but that’s it. It is possible that it is because they are palpable, close, unrepeatable and real. You cannot make someone’s face or make it look more beautiful like on Facebook. There is truth in the theatre; this is why people go there. Once upon a time when there was a car chasing scene in a James Bond film, the car really exploded in the air, that was something. Or to set all the sets of King Kong on fire as David O. Selznick did to create the fire scene in Atlanta in Gone with the Wind, this is something, too. But today it is nothing; you just push a button on the computer. A car on fire, you push once, a spinning car on fire, you push twice. It is a fake visual world as opposed to the theatre. This is why the theatre does not die. Because it is always real and true.

Have you ever played in Gödöllő?

Yes, I have. Actually I have personal attachment to Gödöllő, too. The former director of the University of Agriculture in Gödöllő, dr Lóránt Sopek was my grandfather’s brother. I myself have already visited the university and the palace and of course Ildi Pécsi, too. I think it is a good town and I like to come here as a private person or to act, too.  Moreover, not long ago when we had a guest performance of the Madách Theatre, we were joking with Attila Magyar that we both live near Gödöllő- I for example live in Rákoscsaba- so why do we travel to the city, why don’t we make a good theatre in Gödöllő? Let’s find out who the director is...And what did life bring? We are having rehearsals here…


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