The original Hair musical, first played on Broadway back in 1968, was presented at the oDEon on Saturday night. The theatrical performance has since been remade several times, and it has a film adaptation too. The curiosity of this performance is that the acting company consisted of international students from the University of Debrecen.
I would like to say that I am writing a customary critique, but that would not be true. First of all, I try to sort out my thoughts so that I can convey the feeling that came to me the moment I heard the first beat and Ronnie (Shingai Manzai from Zimbabwe) started singing on the podium. I knew that the production manager of oDEon, Veronika Végh, and director Szabolcs Csáki were preparing for a big bang, and they wanted to make the Hair musical with foreign students studying at university. The idea was put forward by Dr. Zoltán Bács, Chancellor of the University of Debrecen, who feels his own mission is to support culture and wanted to involve international students studying here in some way in the university theater that has been operating for a couple of years. This stage plays and the vocation of the Csáki-Végh couple are excellent opportunities for this. Overcoming language barriers, they also created a unique production in the international arena that impressed the oDEon audience.
Photos by oDEon Zsolt Czeglédi and Bence Szabó
The piece itself is very raw and vulgar, but unfortunately, its message is still relevant today. Although the world has become more open since the 1960s, the lyrics of some of the songs in the play are still considered shocking. Sexuality, drug use, and nudity are still taboo today, illegal or not appropriate, but we got from all of them on the stage of oDEon. As I wrote earlier, the mood captivated me from the first minute as the memory of the rebellious self of my own teenage flowed through my soul, the night I saw the Hair movie (which story is not the same as the piece, but the music does), the feeling came back when I first I am aware that not everything has to be accepted unconditionally, our opinion may be different, even about war. About anything, even within a company. Regarding the current Russian – Ukraine situation, by contrast, the story is as relevant as it was in America in the ’60s because of the Vietnam War. But if I set aside the story and look a little behind what I saw, I feel again the ice down my spine.
The stage was full of talented young people who were transformed into actors, one of them more colorful than the other, there were short-tall, blonde-brown-wig, white and black skinned, and now I know that Berger (Rosh Reuben Koneri) is from India, Bukowski (Huseynzade Kamal) is from Azerbaijan, Sheila (Ekaterina Zueva) and Jennie (Nikolaeva Nina) is from Russia, and so Woof (Sarantsetsen Davaakhuu) came to life, who act so big, that I wouldn’t be surprised for a moment if I saw him in a Hollywood movie tomorrow. He is a Mongolian boy and learns to be a mechatronics engineer in Debrecen. If I were very laid back, I would write WTF? I believed that these guys ought to have been actors. They all played with enormous vehemence and empathy, and I laughed with tears at the stripping show of Rafael Kovács, a boy studying to be a Hungarian lawyer. I cried on the touching songs and teared with laughter. This hecticness characterized my experiences during the performance. Sometimes I didn’t even know where I was, and I had to make myself aware that this was my city, my Campus on Böszörményi Street (where I saw the first 3D documentary film in the Agricultural Cinema), sitting in the auditorium of the oDEon 10 minutes away from my home and the most touching miracle of life reveals to me: the whole world is playing together!
Director: Szabolcs Csáki
- Berger: Rosh Reuben Koneri India Medicine
- Bukowski: Huseynzade Kamal Azerbaijan Computer Science
- Sheila: Ekaterina Zueva Russia Faculty of Music/popmusic course
- Jennie: Nikolaeva Nina Russia Slavic Studies
- Hud: Awosanya Mosopefoluwa Isaac Nigeria Medicine
- Woof: Sarantsetsen Davaakhuu, Mongolia, Mechatronics Engineering
- Ronnie: Shingai Manzai Zimbabwe Medicine
- Crissy: Louie Ann Regente Gamera Philippines Public Health and Preventive Medicine
- Dionne: Alethea Mayormita Espinosa Philippines Public Health and Preventive Medicine
- Steve: Erfan Amini Masouleh Iran dentistry
- Hippie: Sultanbekova Asiya Kazakhstan Business administration and management
- Hippie: Regina Nirvana Guadarrama Ortega Mexico. Biology
- Hippie: Oluwatofunmi Ojo from Nigeria Medicine
- Hippie: Douna Azar Jordania
- Hippie: Zoheb Rahman India MSc Engineering Management
- Hippie: Ahlem Gmar Tunisia environmental engineering
- Hippie: Rayhane Ben Aissa Tunisia Computer science engineering
- Hippie: Rafael Kovács Hungary Faculty of Law
- Hippie: Eszter Kárpáti Hungary DE pop music course
I also must write about the performance played at the beginning. The way Veronika Végh introduced the team and then sent them off and the police showed up was such an intro that would have been great without the members of the University PolgáRock Society, Patrícia Becsky-Nagy (DE-GTK) and Tamás Dékán, associate professors, the Economic Director of the Debrecen Sports Center going on stage in a police uniform with handcuffs on their side. Then in the middle of the play, the couple of the also amateur theater company Mariann Kovács and László Lóczi from the front row, the spectators, somehow got on stage. It was a brilliant solution, and it also hardened the harmony that I felt all along that there’s no big trouble as long as there are so many people to fit on and even move around on stage together and enjoy what they’re doing.
In the end, during the applause, not only the spectators but also the actors experienced the evening with tears. I must think that as long as such productions can be born, nothing is stopping us from wanting to create peace and happiness. ODEon has done this, and I hope it will do so thousands of times.