Hungarian director Laszlo Marton, artistic director of the Vigszinhaus theatre since 1979, spent his late summer in...Gatlinburg, TN. The world premiere of Marton's Dance In Time opened at the Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT) on the campus of the University of Tennessee Aug. 28 and ends its scheduled run Sept. 12.
Marton adapted his movement-based theatre piece from the 1983 film, Le Bal, by Ettore Scola. The setting is a lonely-hearts dance hall, spanning 70 years of Hungarian history. Says Marton, "I wanted a piece that would be a family photo album for the community, just as our theatre was for our city [Budapest]."
Audiences may be surprised to hear so much American and European pop music in the play, but that's not just a come-on to U.S. audiences; Western music is ubiquitous in Easter Europe. Besides, says Marton, "It is not necessary to be completely familiar with all the history in the play to be captivated by the relationships...that unfold as a result of that history. Like music, personal drama has a way of transcending languages and borders."
Music must tell the story, in fact, since the 25-member ensemble say not a word throughout (as in the Scola film). Johanna Bodor (also of Vigszinhaus) choreographs. More than half the cast are local Tennessee actors and members of the University of TN Actor Training Academy.
Designing the show are Bulgaria's Marina Raytchinova (set), and CBT designers Melanie Starnes (costumes) and John Horner (lighting). This is far from Marton's first visit to the States. He's staged several productions at the Actors' Theatre of Louisville, including Little Shop of Horrors(!). He's also worked at Chicago's Court Theatre, as well as venues in Germany, Finland and the UK.
For tickets and information on Dance In Time at the Clarence Brown Theatre on the U of T Campus call (423) 974-5161.
-- By David Lefkowitz