ACTIVITIES OF THE REVERSE HORSESHOE THEATRE GROUP
The drama group of the Bethlen Gábor College in Aiud, called the Reverse Horseshoe, started its activities in the 2017-18 school year under the direction of teachers Fodor Katalin and Krecsák-Szölösi Katalin with 23 secondary school students.
The main aim of the Foundation’s Reverse Horseshoe Drama Group is to provide a space for talented students to develop, to give them the opportunity to learn a new field and to develop their creativity and ingenuity. The Drama Group is an educational programme where students can embark on their own journey of self-discovery. Participating in a drama group can also introduce them to different types of art, such as dance, music or even literature.
The result, the performance and its presentation, the artistic act, is a very important part of the school drama group. However, in the view of the teachers and facilitators, these are of secondary importance, although they are recognised as important. The methodology of actor training is an excellent way to spend quality time with young students, and through playful and serious skill-building and self-awareness exercises, they can get closer to each other and to themselves, and gain openness, curiosity, critical thinking, good concentration and self-confidence. This loose and non-threatening process of self-awareness is the really important outcome of these sessions. The exercises and games used in the actor training focus on a particular element of the actor’s toolbox for later acting, such as: concentration exercises, rhythm exercises, vocal exercises, warm-up exercises, distributive attention exercises, body memory exercises, improvisation exercises, etc. At the same time, since the actor’s most important tool is his own body and soul, his own humanity, himself, it is essential that working with oneself, self-development through exercises, also leads to encounters with oneself. What is really great about these sessions is that you can discover a skill, a talent or a barrier by playing with your curiosity, creativity and ability to focus, rather than by doing a psychological analysis. They play together. It is hoped that students who regularly participate in these drama sessions will be more open, more accepting, more sensitive and have more socially developed skills.
In the first year, they staged two plays: a Christmas play, Tarisznyás Királyok, and Arany János’s A nagyidai cigányok, directed by Demeter Ferenc and Fodor Katalin, the latter of which was also performed in Alba Iulia and Budapest.
On 21 December 2017, the audience was treated to their Advent show, based on the short story The Tarisznyás Királyok by Asztalos István.
In their 2018-19 school year project, 17 students from grades IX-XII participated in activities held once a week on Friday afternoons, which aimed to build a close relationship with theatre, improve students’ speaking technique, stage movement, acting, not least to overcome stage fright and to practice performing in front of a larger audience. The students thoroughly enjoyed the activities and did not hesitate to sacrifice their free time, even undertaking two long weekend marathons in order to perform successfully.
The activities were based around the staging of the novel “Nothing” by Danish author Janne Teller, the theme of which was close to the students’ way of thinking, questions and problems.
The director of the performance was Jancsó Hajnal, a young dramaturg of the Cluj-Napoca State Opera.
The play was performed twice in the Bethlen Gábor College, the first time exclusively for the students and teachers of our school, the second time in front of a larger audience in the framework of the national stage of the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Mother Language Competition, both times with great success.
Below is a recording of the full presentation:
They continued their activities in the next school year (2019-20). In the autumn, in October 2019, they took part in the national student drama festival PADIF with this performance, where they competed with several well-prepared student drama groups and won the national second place, and one of the characters in the play, Bakk Szabolcs, won the prize for the best male supporting actor. Benedek András, who was a member of our drama team for 2 years, is continuing his studies at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Cluj-Napoca.
In the same school year, they started working on another project, another performance, directed by Imecs-Magdó Levente, actor, dramaturg and director of the Waiting Room project theatre in Cluj-Napoca. They were delighted to welcome 17 new members to the student team, as so many people from grades IX-X applied, which proves that the students liked their work and wanted to be part of it.
Unfortunately, work on the new performance was suspended during the epidemic, with the group taking a break of more than a year.
Fortunately, in the 2021/2022 school year, we have already managed to start again with new members and a fresh impetus to work on a piece. The play being adapted for the stage is The Lost Letter by I. L. Caragiale. Since November 2021, the group has been working on rehearsing the play on a weekly basis. Alongside Imecs-Magdó Levente, the director, the team leader, Fodor Katalin, is very much to thank for keeping the team together.
Thanks to various funding opportunities, the Bethlen Gábor Foundation, in addition to paying the teaching fees, also provides the members of the team with participation in various theatre education programmes, and has taken over the running of the theatre group in full.
The team participated in the Eszik vagy Isszák? theatre education programme, which included a performance at the Hungarian State Theatre in Cluj-Napoca, preceded by a preparatory performance in the college by the programme’s facilitators, and followed by a post-performance workshop.
They also had the opportunity to see classroom performances of the Waiting Room Project Theatre, one of which was Bánk bán? Jelen!, a classroom adaptation of Katona József’s classic, in which the creators tried to approach the text in a way that would be accessible and at the same time enjoyable for the audience – students of grades IX-XII. We focused on timeless themes such as friendship, love, homeland and power. The big question, which we leave to the students to answer, is who is guilty and who is innocent? Can someone be acquitted if we know the circumstances of their actions? Does the end really justify the means?
The work of the Reverse Horseshoe Drama Group is ongoing and the number of performances is growing!
Thanks to the students, teachers and organisers who contribute to the success of the team!