György Harag

György Harag (June 4, 1925, Marghita, Kingdom of Romania – July 7, 1985, Târgu Mureș, Socialist Republic of Romania) was a Hungarian director and actor from Transylvania, Romania.

György Harag
Harag György 1925-1983.jpg
Born4 June 1925
Marghita, Kingdom of Romania
Died7 July 1985(1985-07-07) (aged 60)
Târgu Mureș, Socialist Republic of Romania
Occupation
  • Theatre director
  • Actor
NationalityHungarian
Literary movement
Notable works

Life[1]Edit

Early lifeEdit

György Harag was born on June 4, 1925 at Marghita in a Hungarian Jewish family. He was the son of Kádár Magda and Harag Jenő, timber-merchant. He started his elemental schools on Marghita, but finished it in Tășnad. Made his high-school studies on Oradea Mare, first at Emanoil Gojdu High School, then at Jewish High School of Oradea Mare, finally he sat his school examinations in Szent László High School. After graduation he worked for a year as an apprentice, learning ceramics making in Budapest.

He shows close ties to theater from his earliest childhood. He faced, first, at Tășnad, some itinerant theaters (being mentioned by he himself the itinerant companies of Jódi Károly, Vig Ernő and Antal Lajos) that had a significant influence on his future development:

 
The Hungarian State Theater of Oradea Mare (today: State Theater of Oradea)

"There were coming these companies, and I always joint them. I was astonished and amazed. They were poor and had a very bitterly life. I was always in contact with them, but I was not willing to become one of them. I was sixteen when somebody asked me in Oradea Mare: what you want to be? Director – I answered. (...) Well, just like that, after all I have told. And to support my statement, I have started directing my schoolmates..."[2]

During the years spent in Oradea Mare, he had the opportunity to capture the work of the most considerable artists, even if these were not their best stagings: theater started to become just a source of delight. Later, he remembers this period:

"Of course, I was day by day in theater at Oradea Mare. Although the company was a good one, the period between 1940 and 1944 was very difficult for the theater. It was headed by an exceptional director, namely Bálint Putnik. There were very popular the playful performances, because they brought the survival. Putnik, however, tried to raise the standards introducing classical plays, of course, within the limits of material resources."[3]

By the regular invitation of guest artists' the audience (including György Harag) might have got acquainted with the most important artists like Pál Jávor, Margit Dajka, Ferenc Kiss, Antal Páger and Klári Tolnay, but also to those of Transylvania as Ernő Szabó, Luci Hamvay, Ferenc Delly, Juci Komlós.

György Harag and his family were deported in 1944. From the brick-works ghetto of Szilágysomlyó, he is carried to Auschwitz, Mauthausen and then to Ebensee. He is the only survivor of his entire family, losing both his parents and brothers.

 
Auschwitz I concentration camp

"I think I’m a strange natured man - or maybe I was too young to realize the facts can we passed – because the agonies I have passed, did not traumatized me for a lifetime, as happened to many other survivors. We have passed through terrible agonies, dressed only in shirt, we have worked for months, in a cold of minus twenty degrees. (...) I was the only survivor of a consignment of 1,500 people. I’ve got sick. (...) I got twenty-five strokes whose bloody traces were infected. I was operated several times, without any anaesthesia and medicine. But it's quite possible that I have survived just because of that. It brought me the opportunity to spend the whole winter wrapped on a hospital bed. I had already left with sequelae of malnutrition. I can say that before the release, I was practically laying next to dead men, just like the old age end weakenings. Half-aware, I have heard - or maybe I just thought I have heard - that doctors disagreed over my fate: Does we give him the last drop of vitamin-C? Its no use, he anyway dies. Then I heard another voice: - He is the youngest, let’s manage him... And then I’ve got the secret portion of vitamin -C mixed with Salvarsan and bizmut. That 's how I survived. (...) I tried to find my rescuer long time afret the war, but in vane. (...)After a few years I returned to Ebensee. The ruins of the camp were rested, while there were built a coluple of flats next to them. I felt strange seeing that huge houses very next to the place where countless people had been destroyed."[4]

Very ill, he returns to Tasnád in 1945. After a long period of convalescence, he enrolled at the Hungarian Academy of Music and Theatre in Cluj.

Studies and Cluj debutEdit

In 1946 was admitted to the Academy of Performing Arts, onto actor academic specialisation (lacking the director's academic specialisation). Of the fifty students admitted, just eighteen reached BA. From the beginning, Harag had been shown, so that (together with four of his colleagues) is committed to the Hungarian State Theatre of Cluj. From now on, he continued his studies in parallel with his work at the theatre. In 1947, he had played seven roles as an actor and in 1949 took place his debut as a director (having been gained experience through collaborations with eminent figures as assistant director of the theater).

During his academic studies, he had the privilege of being guided by artists like Lili Poór, Lajos Szabó, Ferenc Delly, Miklós Tompa, Ernő Szabó, György Kovács and Lajos Kőmives Nagy.

According to his own confession we find out that in these years, he managed to draw the devotion and respect for theater and also to acquire the bases of acting and administration:

"The stage was our altar, it was a temple where nobody ought to whistle, to enter with dirty shoes or hat on. As for me, even after all these very many years, I take my hat when I walk on stage. We have worked with great delicacy and professionalism. It was a realistic based school, built on Konstantin Stanislavski’s theories. As well as my entire generation, I had the opportunity to be guided by the great master Tompa himself, arrangements of transposing the text on stage. (...) It was a very new style to performances full of gestures, pathetic and majestic wrapped immersions of those times."

Starting in 1948, he enrolled in the directing courses of the Academy, pursueding it in parallel with that of acting. He is instructed by the well-known Miklós Tompa and Ernő Szabó, both of them members of the famous Szekler State Theater of Târgu Mureș. Harag quickly noticed the differences between the two workshops, ideas that he later summarizes telling:

"They lived and worked at Târgu-Mureș and they just came to Cluj to take the courses. (...) Slowly, we realized that, in those days, the school of Târgu Mureș may have a decisive impact both on our future, and also on our professional training. All these happens when the two cities, Cluj and Târgu Mureș, raged an open fight. For example the State Theatre of Cluj made a very bad staging of a Iegor Bulicov’s play, in six months time, the Szekler State Theater of Târgu Mureș answered by staging, ingeniously, the same play. (...) After the war, Cluj receives a typically bourgeois theater. It had a large and very varied company. It had three departments: opera, operetta and prose. There were mixed the most talented actors with dilettantes ones. (...) Lajos Kőmives Nagy directed large performances, being the man was great intentions. Maybe it was a theater pumped with pathos and passion, but it succeeded to make the first steps towards the abolition of artificiality, namely it launched to put an end of the pathetic, out of date and declamativ theater. (...) Thus, being in dire agony, the theatre of Cluj was looking ahead to its future. At the same time, there have held a lot of unfortunate events. There were employed many theater directors who had no tangency with job. (...) Instead, in Târgu Mureș, Miklós Tompa and János Kemény were enrolled among the most capable professionals. Both were leaded into the secrets of theatrical craft by Antal Németh in a professional environment..."[5]

Although he wiev[clarification needed] in Miklós Tompa his greatest master and though he was a disciple of the realistic tradition, he did not allow the rigid constraints (reason for why he was throwing, for a while, his attention to trends of re-theatralization) and manages to break the so-called "pure realism", discovering not only advantages but also disadvantages:

"The school in Târgu Mureș was built on Chekhov and Gorky and claimed so-called pure realism, never touching Shakespeare or the grotesque. The theatre of Târgu Mureș lost much because of the fact that it did not dare to operate with anything else, but what ensure safety. Due to this, Kovács György lost a Hamlet, while Delly Ferenc a Lear. However, this theatre rested the most flexible one..."[6]

In 1952 Harag get his degree in directing. For a little while, he was working as an assistant at the Academy, but, at the same time, he was also working with the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj as a director and actor. In 1953 he joined the company that founded the Hungarian company of the theater in Baia Mare (the graduates of 1953).

The founding and theater management at Baia MareEdit

The company was founded in Baia Mare in 1953 by the graduates of the Hungarian Academy of Music and Theatre under the guidance of György Harag. After graduation, these students have decided not to separate, but to set their own company. Baia Mare has been shown to be suitable for the artistic commencement of the graduates, as there had already worked the Romanian company. That building became the birthplace of the Hungarian company, which later (after the death of the great master) took over his name, working nowadays in Satu Mare, as Harag György Company. (György Harag remembered that these young people have gone together in Bucharest, demanding to be allowed the establishment of the Hungarian section of the State Theatre Baia Mare). This young company named their young teacher Harag György manager and first director:

"Returning from Bucharest (all of them been there!) they stopped me on the street asking: Would you like, Gyuri, to come with us at Baia Mare as our first-stage director? Without any moment of thinking I said: Let’s go! I gave up the chair of assistant, that of director, my home and my two salaries and I went to Baia Mare."[7]

First at Baia Mare (then at Satu Mare) he succeeded in strengthening the company, just due to work experience and professional rigor. There was set a company that, according to its founder and first director „lived like did later The Living Theatre or, the Grotowski team”.

"We were lived in the same house, with wide open doors, sitting together all day long and living just for the theater. We talked about performances, repertoire, schedules, even if our very familial problems. We had no secrets each other. We performed a lot, and the city loved us ..."[8]

Harag was the master of artists who were to become the marks of the Hungarian theatre art of Transylvania: Alajos Ács, András Csíky, András Vándor, István Török, Emma Elekes, Angéla Soós, Piroska Nyíredi, Iza Nagy.

In 1955 he went to Moscow to study.

Conditions of Baia Mare, a badly improved theate and small area in common usage with the Romanian section, made impossible their professional development and forced them to take steps to get the permission of moving in Satu Mare.

Theater management in Satu MareEdit

 
The building of the former Hungarian State Theatre of Satu Mare (today: Northern Theatre)
 
The new building of the National Theatre of Târgu Mureș, built in 1973

The Professional theatrical art tradition in Satu Mare had recorded a history of more than two centuries, unfortunately interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Terms of Baia Mare, a badly improved theate and small area in common usage with the Romanian section, made impossible their professional development and forced them to take steps to get the permission of moving in Satu Mare, where the beautiful heritage building of the theater (already refurbished of the ravages of war) sat abandoned in a city able to offer more opportunities for the company and also a much larger community of Hungarian audience. (The Romanian company being found only 11 years later, in 1968).

In 1956 the company moved to Satu Mare. It starts the directorship of Harag which lasts three years. He has the opportunity of making a more prominent profile and to strengthen a valuable company, but in 1960 he resigns and follows a period of ten years of searching for his artistic self, desiring to find his own style and the ways of his artistic refinement:

"I was 53, I already knew all the secrets of the craft. As a director, I had been always in touch with the organization and pedagogy of the world of theatre art. But I started to feel that I'm not entirely satisfied, I was missing my qualitative evolution. (...) The performances I directed between 1958 and 1960 were all the same pattern, I could not bring anything new. (...) I remember the day when Lucian Pintilie said me: „You're the best realist director. Could you do anything else?” (...) Then I said so: it is time to make a decision regarding my life! (...) I decided just over a single night: I must risk!"[9]

The "migration" and years spent in Târgu MureșEdit

Between 1961 and 1963 is the period of Cluj-Târgu Mureș commute, surviving by occasional performances. In 1963 he became the first director the theatre of Târgu Mureș. He remained in office for ten years and after many years of "searchings", he finds himself in here:

"Follows a difficult period mediocrity and pain. (...) Ten long years of searching, humiliations, failures... But, one day, I have waken up. This was followed by that so-expected quality development by the staging of one of István Nagy’s plays. That was the moment I felt for the very first time that really make THEATER."[10]

Meanwhile he started teaching and staged his first performances at the Romanian company of the theater in Târgu Mureș, as well as those directed abrode (Subotica).

Activity at Hungarian Theatre of ClujEdit

In 1975 became first director of The Hungarian Theatre of Cluj and rested until his death. During this period he had been staging his most successful performances (including Sütő’s tetralogy).

He is a jury member of many international festivals (even in the West). His merits were welcomed by the cultural elite, but he did never receive any state recognition (nor could, because that was the era of rigid censorship Ceauşescu).

Aesthetic and theater critic, István Nánay, shows the last ten years so the master just as follows:

"That decade brought him success. His performances enrolled among the best achievements of the very appreciated Romanian directors. He worked in Yugoslavia and Hungary. Never received any reward or prize. Neither in Romania, nor in Hungary. (...) But, whole generations of Romanian and Hungarian directors and actors consider him their master."[11]

Later years and deathEdit

György Harag died on July 6, 1985. His very last staging was Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre in Târgu Mureș. He never got to see premiere. His memory is kept alive among theater people from Romania moreover, directors like Gábor Tompa or Levente Kovács consider him their master. His name was taken over by the Hungarian Company of the Theatre of Satu Mare.

Awards and institutions that bear his nameEdit

Works about Harag GyörgyEdit

  • István Nánay: Harag György Színháza (The Theatre of Harag György), Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992.
  • Ildikó Marosi: Kis/Harag Könyv. Emlékpróba. (Little/Harag/Book. Memory Rehearsal), 2005.

Artistic creedEdit

He was a self-reflexive artist, being in a permanent turmoil, but always taking determined decisions. He had the courage to risks, to seek new opportunities and avoided, consciously, the intellectual convenience.

"Although I started to feel the weight of years, I'm still going strong. There are still full of unrest. I started again to risk and seek. (...) I take a decision: to the last moment of my career as a director, I will always seek the still impassable paths. I do this, even if it is risky and even if I lose my laurs."[12]

Theater was his only love to which he dedicated his entire being (which also claimed to his colleagues). He fiercely believed in courageous experiments and practical work.:

"For some reason, the theatre shapes my destiny. Sometimes I can’t even sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can’t sleep any more. I become anxious and this anxiety makes me think many, vision-like things. The silence and the solitude can inspire strange, awkward images, ideas. I feel that I’ve discovered a great vision, but the next day, when I tell it to the actors, the whole thing loses its charm. This is very interesting. The theatre is one big, live vision. But this vision can only exist through a hard, vigilant, tormenting work, from an intellectual point of view."[13]

See alsoEdit

SourcesEdit

  • István Nánay: Harag György Színháza (The Theatre of Harag György), Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992.
  • Ildikó Marosi: Kis/Harag Könyv. Emlékpróba. (Little/Harag/Book. Memory Rehearsal), 2005.

External linksEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. pp. 15-26.
  2. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 16.
  3. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. pp. 16-17.
  4. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 17.
  5. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 19.
  6. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 20.
  7. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 21.
  8. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 21.
  9. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 23.
  10. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. p. 23.
  11. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. pp. 23-24.
  12. ^ István Nánay: The Theatre of Harag György, Pesti Szalon Publishing House, 1992. pp. 23-24.
  13. ^ http://www.huntheater.ro/lista_m.php?soid=467&sl=7 85 years since the birth and 25 years since the death of “magician director” György Harag, leading stage director of the Cluj theatre