Jozsef Ruszt

Hungarian theatre moderniser

While the Polish theatre flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, modernisation came slowly to Hungary. Most Hungarian theatres had a limited repertory; innovative staging of the classics and some modern Western playwrights was rare and usually caused an uproar. József Ruszt was one of the few theatre directors whose contribution to the modernisation of the Hungarian theatre was first crucial, then steady and decisive.

Ruszt was born in 1937 and studied at the Theatre and Film Academy of Budapest. During the 1960s he had a dual career directing Universitas productions staged by the theatre group of Loránd Eötvös University, and also working in the provincial repertory theatre of Debrecen. He managed to harmonise these two activities; according to a critic he was able to reconcile happily "strident avant-gardism with the unavoidable compromises of the professional theatre". It was with Universitas that he visited Birmingham in 1966, where the two productions directed by him, a classic comedy and a modern musical, both by Hungarian authors and performed in Hungarian, made a lasting impression on English audiences.

In 1973 he became director of another provincial but experimental theatre at Kecskemét, a post he held until 1978. During these years his reputation was steadily growing - he was one of the few directors who not only had the courage to take risks, but could enchant with excellent modern productions that drew large audiences to Kecskemét from Budapest. One of the main influences on his work was the "poor theatre" of Jerzy Grotowski, so his own productions were often "ritualised".

Ruszt led an intense theatrical life in the 1980s, first working at Szeged and in 1982 becoming one of the founders of the Sándor Hevesi Theatre at Zalaegerszeg. Between 1984 and 1987 he was its manager and chief director, but he returned to Budapest to direct at the National Theatre for a year (1987-88), and then to Szeged once again to reorganise the local repertory theatre. In 1989 he founded Független Szinpad ("Independent Stage") at Szeged but a year later he had to move his group to Budapest, where it staged performances until 1994.

In 1995 he became Artistic Leader of the Kamaraszinház at Budapest, and he staged there a number of memorable productions, for example Marlowe's Edward II and Shakespeare's Othello. He also kept his loyalty to Zalaegerszeg, where as late as last year he once again directed a stunning production of the Hungarian classic Az ember tragédiája ("The Tragedy of Man") by Imre Madách. Previous productions of Ruszt's included plays by Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, Strindberg, Calderón, Schiller's Don Carlos, and Romeo and Juliet.

His work was acknowledged by numerous awards, including the Mari Jászai Prize (1975), the titles of Distinguished Artist (1977) and Outstanding Artist (1985), and finally, after the change of regime, by the Kossuth Prize in 1993.

George Gömöri

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks