Mari Törőcsik looked at the speakers with her small eyes and a wide smile on her face at the opening of MagdaFest on Monday in the gallery of the Csokonai Fórum in Debrecen from a black and white photo. István Sztankay’s palm stretched out as Romeo tensed in front of his raised palm, beyond a millimeter of space. The thought that those lines of destiny, deep in the palm of your hand, will never touch each other in this earthly life is touching.
The photo exhibition entitled “Do I know as only I know” was the opening event of the all-arts festival, recalling the most memorable roles of the Kossuth award-winning National Theatre.
Péter Gemza, the director of the Csokonai Theater, which organizes the program until October 8, recalled that the cultural event focusing on female creators and destinies from many aspects was organized for the first time in 2017, on the centenary of the birth of Magda Szabó.
As he said, the legacy of Debrecen’s most translated and internationally best-known author is not with us to put in a showcase, but to think about it and be inspired by it. This is how the identity of MagdaFeszt was formed, which goes far beyond the writer’s oeuvre.
“I can proudly say that we employ the most female authors and directors among stone theater companies,” he said.
He was out of his mind
The participants of the exhibition opening could hear the title sentence in its original context from a recording by Mari Törőcsik. “I’m not asking if I know as well as thousands of other good actors. I am asking if I know as only I can. Do I know that this is why it is worth choosing me, only me? This is where you need courage, often recklessness, and here you also need self-control…” – this is what the legendary actor told László Bérczes, who conducted in-depth interviews with him over two summers, so that their Conversation Book could be born.
The director and dramatist told us that despite the six previous volumes – including with Tamas Cseh and Zoltán Mucsi – and the old, friendly relations, Mari Törőcsik laughed at the suggestion that he has no intention of making such a book. At the end of several years of softening and persuasion, the fact that the artist’s daughter, Teréz Maár, supported the appearance and listened to him in everything.
Even then, the protagonist stipulated that the book could only be published after his death, but Tamás Jordán convinced him about the earlier edition with this sentence: “His colleagues are curious about the writings, but he will outlive us all, and we will never be able to read them.”
We know since April 2021 that he was wrong.
László Bérczes was most surprised by the openness of Mari – as the author called her – during the joint work. The actress did not want to read the finished parts, but the writer insisted. The actress didn’t reveal unpleasant stories for her either.
– She spoke with this self-evident honesty to the neighbor or to the seller in the store, because she did not play the old woman, the great artist – said the dramaturg.
As he added, “She was a small woman who had many faults, like me or others, but she radiated love. In addition to his talent, what makes him extraordinary is that he was able to rise above his judgment dependent on his party position, the everyday superficial mud-slinging and professional envy. He loved and recognized his colleagues and his opinion of young people.”
The MagdaFest continued with the presentation of the Csokonai Theater’s own play, the cheerful lament “Gyászúton”. In the following days, interested parties are invited to performances, Gabi Szűcs’ concert, walking theater programs, a round table discussion entitled “Women in the Market” and a book presentation.
The photo exhibition can be visited until November 10.