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IV Budapest

ULYSSES European Odyssey

István Tasnádi
The role of neighbourhood communities in post-Covid Europe.

Eighteen established writers, one from each city/region, will be commissioned to write a chapter in a response to their Arts & Society theme within the context of their city.

Just as Ulysses is innovative in its form and language, so the writers will be chosen with a view to reflecting a breadth of genres, styles and innovations. Each writer will ideally attend their own city’s event. All the (new) chapters from the 18 cities/regions will be brought together in a book publication: ULYSSES European Odyssey.

István Tasnádi will write the Budapest chapter.

Writer’s Statement

That one day has already lasted a hundred years. Only now, while re-reading the book, have I come to realise that, as a novice writer, I was aping those who wanted to imitate Joyce. So, everything started from here, the Great Demolition, the Universal Deconstruction. My maternal grandfather was the same age as Stephen Dedalus in 1922. His name was also Stephen, in Hungarian: István. Just like mine. This era and the surrealists – Jarry, Dali, Buñuel – have been my favourites since I was a teenager. Our grandfathers were more radical than we could ever be. Of course, they were not grandfathers then but young men who were always ready for provocation, who wanted to create something in art that no one else had done before them. In that conservative, authoritarian cultural and political atmosphere it was perhaps even easier. Simply because there was more at stake (at least there was a stake) to create in a spirit different from the canon. And masterpieces were born. An Andalusian dog shocks me looking at it even after almost a hundred years. It is a perfect piece of art with a message that is still relevant today. Just like Ulysses. The unrestrained freedom of the text, the richness of the vocabulary, the sensual self-righteousness of the language, the inimitable mixture of philosophy, waggery and blasphemy, the whole “grave fun preserved in a mothball ” remain impressive even today. And as for our collective game: how can you connect to a tradition that calls into question (as well as disassembles and often ridicules) all traditions? I have no idea, not yet. That is why it is all so exciting. (István Tasnádi retranslated quotation, most likely very different in the original, Chapter 1.)

Writer’s Biography

István Tasnádi is an Attila József and Béla Balázs prize-winning playwright. He was born in 1970 in Budapest and graduated as a theatre historian at Pannon University in Veszprém in 1997. In 2019, he obtained his doctorate at the University of Theatre and Film Arts Budapest, where he has been teaching dramaturgy and creative writing for years.

He has been publishing regularly since 1992. His poems and reviews were published by almost all major literary and theatre magazines.

In 1996, he helped establishing the Bárka Theatre, where he was working as a dramaturg until 2001. From 2001 to 2007 he was the resident playwright of the Krétakör Theatre. In 2009, he also made his debut as a theatre director. In 2016, he directed his first TV movie based on his play Memo – which won the prize for the best European TV movie at the Prix Europe festival in 2017.

Since 2012, he has been the lead writer of a highly successful youth series (Időfutár) on the national radio channel, which was later published in several volumes by Tilos az Á publishing house.

He has also been the head writer of HBO’s Terápia series since 2012 and the Aranyélet series since 2015.

There have been 88 performances of his 36 plays and stage adaptations on Hungarian stages so far, furthermore his works have been performed in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Italy, the US, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia. His works are translated into German, French, Polish, Italian, Czech, Slovak, Romanian and Bulgarian.