András Kern and The Prop Master
What is the
secret of the success series of The Prop Master?
András Kern: Who knows? You should ask the audience…
Obviously the main character, András Kern is the main reason. How did you meet the text?
András Kern: A man called Ilan Eldad, living in Israel, who happens to be a very good director and with whom I had worked several times and I love very much asked me: ‘Hey, why don’t you play The Prop Master?’ I simply asked what it was. Then he gave me a cassette with a well-known Austrian actor, Otto Schenk playing something which is written by a German called Ebherhard Streul with the title The Prop Master or maybe it is not the real title but it is A Great Day of Josef Bieder. ‘This is very good – I told Ilan –, the only problem is that it is about an opera house.’ Because this Schenk is actually an opera guy who used to direct operas and is a great comedian, so the author wrote the play for him as for an opera prop master which was full of opera stories about dancers, conductors… But we said we were interested in something else…
How much does the text of this performance differ from the original?
András Kern: It is significantly different but it still can be recognised. Well, we said we were interested in something else and we asked Lajos Parti Nagy to rewrite it for a prose theatre and as if I were the prop master of the theatre and I would make a conversation with the audience on a cancelled theatre evening about everything but mainly about the theatre life of Budapest. Parti Nagy was eager to do this, he got a rough translation and I told him my stories for about eight hours and then he wrote a version which I rewrote a bit, then he got insulted a bit that it was not well rewritten, next I got insulted and we had a row and finally Zsuzsa Radnóti finished it and made it to a performance, Ilan Eldad accepted it and I have already played it for ten years.
There are a lot of props on stage to create an illusion. How were they selected?
András Kern: We
selected those objects which we needed for our story.
Did you have to consult a prop master?
András Kern: No, I didn’t , as we all know the job of a prop master, I have lived in the theatre for fifty years and Lajos Parti Nagy has for thirty.
And after the rehearsals started, was there a bigger attention paid towards the job of prop masters?
András Kern: No, I personally did not have to pay more attention as I had already known what they did.
It was the first time you were alone on the stage. Does an actor feel more nervous in a situation like that?
András Kern: No, I was not more nervous than when I am on the stage with others. Anyway, we are always nervous to be good.
Has the audience changed in ten years? Do they behave differently or laugh at different parts?
András Kern: No, I haven’t experienced anything like that.
There are numerous typical theatrical anecdotes that are cited during the performance the characters of which you play remarkably in the play. Is it important if these characters can be recognised?
András Kern: Now no one knows who they are. It is not important.
When will you have your next premiere?
András Kern: We are preparing for Feydeau in the Víg Theatre. It is directed by Michal Doček, the director of the National Theatre of Prague, who has worked with us several times. One Night in Paradise – this is the title and it has never been played in Hungary, We will have the premiere at the beginning of March with fantastic actors. This is how I spend my days nowadays most of the time.