Over the years, The Symptoms have been invited to various festivals and venues in Eu rope, including The Place in London, the National Theater of Prague and the Studio ALTA in Prague, the Schauspiel in Köln, the Volkstheater in Wien, the Savoy-teatteri Helsinki, the Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar, the Theater Erfurt, the Divadlo Thália in Kassa, the Juliusz Slowacki Theater in Krakow, the Tanzlabor in Bielefeld, the IN FANT festival in Novi Sad, the Donumenta Festival in Regensburg, the OFF Europe Festival in Leipzig, the NF Green Festival in Slovakia. The troupe is a regular participant of the Desiré Festival in Subotica. In 2014, their show Apropos 2.0 was invited to premiere at the Alexander Kasser Theater of Montclair University, New Jersey. Réka Szabó held trainings for acting and dance classes of the University of Michigan-Dear born in the USA, and of Montclair State University, New Jersey.
The Symptoms are an independent contemporary dance and theater com pany performing since 2002 under artistic director and choreographer Réka Szabó, a mathematician by trade. The company’s pieces are thought-provok ing and dramatic while being liberating as well as marked by a certain ease, an almost child-like sense of abandon. Comprised of actors and dancers, the troupe relies on all of its members as creative collaborators in their own right, each show building heavily on the distinctive personal ity and imagination of the performers. The Symptoms refuse to obey genre bound aries, treating text, move ment, music, visuals, and technology-intensive special effects as equal components in the whole. From its inception, the compa ny has stressed the importance of social involvement, regularly featuring in their repertoire street performance, structured improvi sation, interactive fairy-tale plays for kids, as well as an Initiation program for high school students.
HEAD FIRST - or the contractions of expanding time Premiere: 02/02/2018, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
Director-choreographer: Réka Szabó Co-production partner: Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
A performance that gives birth to itself. Four dancers attempt the impossible: to get the audience to partake of the experience of giving birth. They share their own personal stories and memories of being in labor, including bodily func tions, traumatic and euphoric events. They try to turn everything inside out that happened to them in the unconscious realm: beyond closed eyes and beneath the skin. They use humor, powerful physicality, words, images and sounds. To everyone that was ever born and is still alive. We don’t remember how we were born, and we won’t be able to tell the story of our dying. Giving birth is an equally elemental, borderline event, outside real space and time — an extraordinary experience.
„ Known as Hungary’s most likeable contemporary dance company, The Symptoms has managed to create a shared experience of what is deeply personal and individual. This is achieved by means of arti culated and silent confessions and through the primordial language of movement. With a hint of Monty Pythonesque satire and self-irony, the performance takes us back to the origin of life through a drama turgy similar to the process of labour. The rhythmic contractions are expanded in real time and space. They guide the audience deep into the realm of instincts and the subconscious; exposing them to the unpredictable powers of nature, on the borderline between life and death; gradually preparing them for the traumatic yet euphoric moment of release. ” Orsolya Bálint, dancefeed.org Useful information: The performance has a main stage and a studio stage version. Number of people travelling: 7 International festival appearances: Desiré Festival – Subotica | 2018 Prague – Studio Alta | 2019 OFF Europe Festival – Leipzig |2021 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECKVpCHwEkg&t=1s
TheAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!showwasconceivedand put together in 2020, during the experimental season of The Symp toms. The members of the team, committing themselves to a quarantine community, worked to gether on a daily basis on shaping AND practicing the rituals that form the skeleton of the piece. Within that preaged framework, the performance is entirely improvised.
AFTERPARTY - the fictive rite of a fictive tribe Premiere: 29/01/2021, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
Night after night, the actors of Afterparty participate in an experiment. They try to find out if they are able to let go of their crutches, abandon themselves to playing games in the pres ence of “observers,” to allow themselves to be seen alternately as visceral, frail, innocent, vio lent, light, or heavy. While they investigate the relationship between human sound and move ment, they try to figure out ways of helping one another to discharge deeply buried sounds unknown even to them. It’s a kind of parlor game that spills over from the stage to the audi torium, both breathing and pulsing together, with the audience participating actively in every thing happening to the dancers. Their interactions are amplified by the intimate space generat ed by the fragile position of the performers. By the end of the show, which is liberating, playful, and often hilariously funny, viewers can decide for themselves what it is they have just seen and heard: music, dance, or perhaps the inarticulate confession of five people on the stage.
Wouldn’tAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!itbeniceifwecould just roar out to the world all the stress, passion, pain, anger, joy and happiness inside us? We could do it, but we don’t. Why? Why do we quell and suppress our emotions? Why are we afraid to reveal what’s inside us? Why are we too shy to sound out on our own?
Director-choreographer: Réka Szabó Co-production partner: Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
And what kind of sounds do we make, anyway?
The first “act” is about the unknown sound buried deep inside us, the one that we may not know at all. I would call the second “act” “the truth of sound”, and the third one “the creative force of sound”. You have to watch Afterparty yourself to know how it all can be a rewarding experience for the audience. The per formance has a therapeutic aspect as well, but it is not only therapeutic for the performers, not only of help and use to them, but it deeply involves the spectators too. Especially during those cathartic moments when the performers get the task to sing a self-chosen song in a clear and unpretentious way, straight from their hearts. – Annamária Szoboszlai, szinhaz.net Useful information: Required space: U-shaped auditorium. Number of people travelling: 7. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0b-EobXxtU&t=3s
NOTHING PERSONAL Premiere: 25/02/2022, Jurányi Art Incubator House
Throughout the rehearsal process, we drew inspiration from fairytale researcher Ildikó Boldizsár and her Metamorphoses Fairytale Therapy Method; Imre Bartók’s autofictional novel Lovak a folyóban; György Petri’s poem A történtek után; and the animated television series BoJack Horse man, among others.
There once was a man—if he existed at all—who squeezed and tormented himself until he be came hard, dry, hapless, and unyielding. He felt rather ashamed, as he had always prided himself on his sensitivity and warm-heartedness. From this point on, he labored to keep up appearances, to come across the way he had been before. Yet the armored shield under his skin grew thicker and thicker inside. The compressed, dutiful piece of flesh that had been his heart now slashed and wounded itself with every throb. Sometimes he felt that his sheer existence hurt him more than his own death could ever hurt anyone on Earth. Then, one day this man decided that… “…This is not a story about us. Not because many of us are in the same boat, but because it begins where the self ends.” —Krisztián Peer
The piece is dedicated to the memory of Attila Szirtes.
Director-choreographer: Réka Szabó
„Nothing Personal is the very own tale and purgatory of the company. Those who know The Symptoms will know that their movement repertory is very chiselled, reaching from contemporary American dance tech niques through martial arts to yoga and back (except for ballet). But it is not the time for some kind of liber ating, flowing dance in this show. The expressions that come to mind about the movement sequences that we see are rather simple, encouraging ones: „get up and walk” , „move your body” , „get going”. There’s no „better” way to talk about being stuck than through a kind of disrupted dance symbolizing crisis and a state of paralysis.” – Szilvia Sisso Artner, szinhaz.net Useful information: Required space: black box. Number of people travelling: 7
The workshop is based on observation, experience, conversation and sharing. If possible, the best format for the workshop is as follows: 5 days, 6 hours a day, maximum 12 participants. In this case each participant will have a personal, confessional scene in the end that we share with each other and discuss together.
Réka Szabó regularly teaches workshops on her own or together with Dániel Szász, founding member of and dancer with The Symptoms. The 3-5-days workshops focus on performing qualities and the fearless use of different means of expression.
During the workshop I share basic improvisation situations and games that are con nected to space, time, movement, human voice, the body as a projection surface, par allel attention, the simultaneous use of verbality and physicality. I would like to in duce dialogue between the creative and performative experiences and thoughts of the group’s members.
„I am interested in how it is possible to elevate the private personalities, stories and defining existential problems of the performers onto another level where they become characters and scenes that are familiar and relevant to everyone. I am looking for the thin line where stage presence preserves its vulnerability, where it renounces the protective shell of stage techniques, yet doesn’t become defence less. I believe that if we observe our reactions during improvisation situations and examine them with understanding, humour and self-reflexion, then we will be able to dig deep and find something commonly human.
It is possible to have a mixed group with dancers and actors with good movement(Rékaskills.”Szabó)
SITE-SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE: Sirens
Mysterious eyes and bodies appear on the horizon. A bush is shaken, a stone rolls away, tree branches creak and groan, a sound approaches from a distance. We arrive in the mythic world of the sirens. They lure us on a walk, on an adventure through the forest into the spaces of our own subconscious. It is as if we are wandering between birth and death, or within our own familiar and unfamiliar inner spaces. We are afraid of it, we get lost in it, but it grants us power and vitality, making us both go quiet and become curious.
Together with the natural environment the voices and dancing of these half human animal crea tures create a new myth and set a series of rituals in motion. The sirens open the gate through which we may pass with their help.
„Our work is inspired by the shamanistic traditions that make us work together closely with na ture and its force creatures, teaching us, healing us and lending us strength through their move ments, voices and auras.” (Veronika Szabó)
Director: Veronika Szabó Age restriction: 14+
Premiere: 23/06/2022, PLACCC Festival
In our site-specific performance Sirens we invite our audience to walk or wander through the forest, to take part in a collective ritual where everyone can freely choose what paths they take –and whether they will be seduced by the sirens.
felt like being in a different dimension – in a straightforward, quiet world devoid of the noise of the out side world – where the only thing that matters is the harmony between you and the environment.” – Anna Gáll, index.hu Useful Site-specificinformation:performance. Required space: a forest space with a small clearing nearby. Number of people travelling: 8. Trailer: https://youtu.be/C-LVivB-VLc
FILM DISTRIBUTION – The Euphoria of Being documentary, 82 minutes, 2019 (The performance titled Sea Lavender that the film is based on had been staged 77 times in Budapest, Berlin and Vienna by the time of the film’s editing.)
Éva Fahidi was 20 years old when she returned all alone home to Hungary from Auschwitz Birkenau. 49 members of her family were murdered, including her mother, her father and her little sister. Now, aged 90, Éva is asked to participate in a dance-theatre performance about her life. This would be the first time for her to perform on a stage. Réka, the director imagines a duet be tween Éva and the young, internationally acclaimed dancer, Emese. Réka wants to see these two women, young and old, interact on stage, to see how their bodies and their stories can intertwine. Éva agrees immediately.
director, author: Réka Szabó producer: Sára László, Marcell Gerő (Campfilm), Réka Szabó (The Symptoms) main cast: Éva Fahidi, Emese Cuhorka, Réka Szabó director of photography: Claudia Kovács
2nd DoP: Zoltán Lovasi editor: Sylvie Gadmer, Péter Sass
Three women – three months – a story of crossing boundaries. Whilst key moments of Éva’s life are distilled into theater scenes, a truly wonderful and powerful relationship forms between the three women.
” –Vladan Petkovic,
AWARDS: 72th Locarno Film Festival - Grand Prize of the Critics’ Week | 2019 Sarajevo International Film Festival - Human Rights Award | 2019 Minsk International Film Festival “Listapad”, Belarus - Audience Award | 2019 16th Verzió International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Hungary - Hungarian Audience Award | 2019 31. Trieste Film Festival - Alpe Adria Cinema Award | Best Documentary | 2019 31. Triest Film Festival - Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa Award | 2020 Hungarian Film Week and Film Awards 2020 - Best Documentary | 2020 March of the Living Foundation - György Kézdy Prize | 2019 DOK.fest Munich - kinokino Audience Award | 2020 Millenium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Poland - Best Debut Award | 2020 5th Ars Sacra Film Festival, Hungary, Budapest - Best Feature-length Documentary | 2020 Choreoscope International Dance Film Festival, Barcelona - Portrait of a Generation Award | 2020 Golden Blend - the award of the Hungarian trailer- Jury’s Grand Prize | 2020 19° Festival international Signes de Nuit, Paris – Jury Award | 2021 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8cCmZp4Yuw&t=5s
The Euphoria of Being is a co-production between Hungary’s Campfilm, The Symptoms, 4Cut Post Digital and France’s Pom’Zed.
The movie was last broadcast October 2020 (MDR 25.10.2020, 0:20 + 30 days in the Mediathek) MDR: 10.000 audience in TV and Catchup 30.000 in their Mediathek (VoD). idi is a unique protagonist, immensely charismatic and sharp-m inded, a no-nonsense lady who boldly leads a full life, and whose survival stands as a brave counterpoint to the tragedy of her family. A single artistic medium would struggle to do justice to her complex story; in combining Fahidi’s memoir with the performance and the documentary interviews, The Euphoria of Being comes pretty close. cineuropa.org
CONTACTS website: www.thesymptoms.hu Artistic director: Réka Szabó email@example.com International Relations: Léna Megyeri firstname.lastname@example.org THE SYMPTOMS