Hungarian Watch

Joseph McCarthy’s spirit lives on in Hungary: Artist community targeted

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2011 at 10:32 am

Supporters of the Hungarian National Theatre's Artistic Director, Robert Alfoldi, stage a demonstration on the front steps to counter the Jobbik party's protest demanding Alfodi's ousting. Photo by Barbara Lanciers.

American Theatre Magazine published an excellent article in this month’s issue that, in essence, says: Joseph McCarthy‘s spirit lives on in Hungary, folks.

  • The names and photos of over 200 artists and public figures were listed in a smear campaign, labeling them as Jews, homosexuals, Socialists and/or Roma.
  • All public buildings (including theaters, museums and concert halls) must prominently display the government’s manifesto “instituting a ‘National Cooperation System’ touting ‘family’ and ‘home’ virtues.”
  • Independent theaters are facing a complete elimination of funding from the state arts budget.  (NOTE: independent theaters are known for their fierce dissent.)
  • Unbelievably, “the government is looking to sweep out directors…seen as being insufficiently dedicated to the nationalist agenda.”

What?!  Are we living in an alternate universe?  Since April 2010, when the “center”-right Fidesz party won over 2/3rds of the seats in Parliament, it has made an “uneasy alliance with Jobbik,” Hungary’s very own ultra-nationalist (Fascist) party, “to consolidate its hold over Hungary’s legal system and its media and to muffle its thriving artistic community.”

If there is any good news, it is that Hungarians seem to be understanding that the alarmists were right.

Read the whole article, A Bomb Goes Off in Hungary by John Barry in American Theatre Magazine. It includes excellent quotes by Philip Arnoult (Director of the Center for International Theatre Development), Barbara Lanciers (U.S. theatre director, choreographer and Fulbright Scholar with roots in Hungary) and Jim Nicola (Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop).

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