One of the most prestigious dramatic theatres in Hungary, Vígszínház, founded in 1896, and still is considered as one of the most important cultural institutions in Hungary. Its devoted ensemble works to create a balance between traditional values and modern creativity. Vígszínház is a people’s theatre and an art theatre at the same time, with a standard company of actors, which performs classical and contemporary, foreign and Hungarian dramas of a wide range of genre and types. The Vígszínház repertoire is exciting, and sensitive to social problems of the time and society and attracts a large audience. The theatre have had a long tradition to host famed foreign productions and internationally acclaimed artists, like Pina Bausch, Claus Peymann, Peter Brook, Maurice Béjart, the National Theatre of Cluj, the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, John Malkovich in The Confessions of a Seral Killer and the Eifman Balett from St. Petersburg.
The productions of the Vígszínház have been presented all over the world, like on the BITEF, Belgrade, The Seoul Festival of World National Theatres and in Dublin, in Vienna, in Berlin, in Prague, in Pilzen, in Bratislava, in Novi Sad etc.
The most outstanding team of directors are working for the Vígszínház regularly, like Róbert Alföldi, Tamás Ascher, Viktor Bodó, Péter Gothár, János Szász, Michal Dočekal, Gábor Tompa and László Marton. And in the recent years, the theatre had a few top creative artists and designers on board.
In 2014 the Vígszínház had the wonderful opportunity to be a partner in an international co-production with the Czech National Theatre and the Slovak National Theatre. The production1914 directed by Robert Wilson was premiered in 2014 in Budapest and received many invitations from all over the world and highly acknowledged both by the experts and the audience.
The Vígszínház international strategy is based on the strong belief that dialogue and co-operation between different theatre cultures and different theatre traditions may create a European theatre community, united in and enriched through its cultural diversity, which might help us to discover innovative artistic forms and practical methods for making theatre.
Still rare in today’s Europe, the Vígszínház with its 1100 seating capacity, runs a repertory of an art theatre and this program attracts a large audience.
The Vígszínház’s brief history and profile
On the Grand Boulevard in Budapest, just one hundred feet from the river Danube, stands an impressive theatre building. Its elegant and radiant late-nineteen-century design makes it the final section of the Boulevard's most attractive building. The Vígszínház is one of the finest examples of theatre buildings designed by Fellner and Helmer, whose 19th century "new-standard theatres" can be found scattered across central Europe. The still elegant auditorium of the Vígszínház, with a seating capacity of over 1.000, has played to full houses from the moment of its inauguration. It was the cradle of modern acting, and the new, 20th century middle class drama, but it introduced light French comedies as well as English social satires to the Hungarian audiences. Chekhov and Shakespeare, have also been on the theater's program from the beginning. The Pesti Színház, the chamber theater of the Vígszínház (with about 600 seats), was inaugurated in 1967, and is the venue for plays with a more intimate atmosphere. The Vígszínház has a studio-stage, as well, with about 80 seats. The so called „Home Stage” is an ideal place for experimental performances.
From 1962, the legendary actor and director Zoltán Várkonyi became artistic director, and it is thanks to him that new generations have also become devoted to the Vígszínház. In this manner – despite financial difficulties, world crises, World Wars, dictatorships and revolutions, not to mention the siege of Budapest, during which the theater was hit by a bomb (1945) – the theater continued to play to packed houses after it was rebuilt in 1951. In 1961, the Vígszínház was given back its legendary name. From 1985 to 2009, with László Marton and from 2009 with Enikő Eszenyi at the helm, their method and aim is the same: to always speak in a contemporary manner, and to always speak to the audience.
The purpose of the Vígszínház is to preserve its modern, 21st century folk theatre feature where quality and popularity are present at the same time, and to make this feature even more emphasized. Therefore, the Víg wants to be a theatre where from childhood through adolescence to elderly ages across generations the active contact between the theatre and the audience is kept alive.