This week, Hungarians throughout the world have experienced a jolt of excitement upon hearing that an obscure theatre group from Hungary has just won this year’s Britain’s Got Talent. Indeed, it feels good to know that Hungary can appear in the news in a positive context for a change. But, for me, the most significant message that the Attraction Shadow Theatre reaffirms is that nationality is irrelevant when it comes to narratives dramatizing such universal feelings as love, loss, pride and exultation, and that the greatest talent Britain has got is in recognizing real talent.
With their exciting victory, the Shadow Theatre has joined the selective Hungarian club of Nobel prize winners, scientists, writers, inventors, and musicians whose work was valued much more outside of Hungary than inside of it. At this moment, it would be entirely misplaced to emphasize the Hungarianness of this group. Certainly, the talented crew became what it is because it has had to meet the challenges inherent in today’s Hungary. As much as the current government-party, FIDESZ may want to capitalize on this victory, anyone outside of Hungary who does so pays attention to this particular theatre group not because it is a Hungarian group but because it is artistically original and its performances are perfectly executed.
The group has a brilliant future ahead of it. No, not in Hungary where the show known as reality has been casting its own shadows on its people. For where else could it be seen as humane to make dirt poor relatives of an indigent deceased person wash the corpse of their loved-ones, dress him or her, dig the grave and bury him or her while the government generously provides for the refrigeration of the corpse and its transportation to the grave? Where else could a politician propose a law that would allow any member of the parliament to seize any apartment he or she likes simply because members of the parliament ought to have special privileges? And these are but two of the latest outrages against the kind of humanism that the Shadow Theatre group’s performances suggest. In a country where raw emotions increasingly dictate political and social attitudes and furnish a steady flow of daily outrages in public discourse, there is no need to see reality in shadows. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave comes to mind. But in Hungary, the prisoners who have not made Hungary’s most famous theatre group recognized in Hungary could only see the sweaty dancers behind the screen, not the beautifully emotional shadows on it. The British who have voted for this group managed to view the screen from the right side. And on that side, humanity is full of deep and noble emotions wrapped up in a package of superb artistry. Clearly, the short shadow dances are captivating because they appeal to these universal human emotions. I sure hope that producers from Las Vegas have their eyes open and extend an offer that this group really deserves.
Hungary already has a very successful shadow economy. It now has produced a successful shadow theatre group.
What’s next? A successful Hungarian shadow government?
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