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Scandal As Austrian Actors Read Out Political Statement After Performance In Budapest

By Ferenc Sullivan // 2015.04.20.

An actor from Vienna’s famous Burgtheater theatre has caused uproar after reading out aloud a political statement criticising the Hungarian government after performing Chekhov’s “The Seagull” in the National Theatre in Budapest.

Martin Reinke read a text in both English and German expressing the actors’ solidarity with those who have to face “threats to democracy” in Hungary, which cause them concern. The Burgtheater claims to have decided to give the unconventional political statement after the piece’s director was unable to travel to Budapest yesterday evening, causing a planned meeting with the audience to be cancelled. Hungary’s cultural development is an important issue in Austria, which also causes Burgtheater’s actors concern, and they were eager to share their thoughts with the audience despite the meeting being called off, according to reports.

In the meanwhile, Attila Vidnyánszky, director of the Hungarian National Theatre, has called for an explanation from the Austrian theatre group. In a letter to Burgtheater’s intendant Karin Bergmann, he wrote that it is “distastefuil to read out a direct political letter from the stage to the audience both in Hungary and anywhere in the world”.

Previously, an open debate was held in Budapest’s German cultural institute on 13 April on the notion of “national theatre” on 13 April but Ms. Bergmann failed to attend a subsequent discussion with Hungarian theatre professionals, according to reports.