A performance, in which fine art meets poetry and theatre:this is „Picnic in May”, the result of a joint creative process based on a famous canvas by 19th century Hungarian plein air painter Pál Szinyei Merse. “Picnic in May” is an emblematic work of Hungarian art history, with its greatest merit and most modern trait being its conscious representation of an everyday situation with ease and simplicity. Szinyei, in his own words, did not wish to depict anything else, but a „beautiful spring day enjoyed by a jolly company from the city, being together at an outing”.
The casualness in “Picnic in May” is still appealing today, making it an innovative work of art even in comparison to other European paintings of the age. The city people in the picture are strikingly easy-going and well dressed, enjoying fine bites and bottles of wine from picnic baskets, with handsome men courting flirty ladies dressed in fine laces – the whole scene is utterly idyllic. However, the central character is still a lonesome man, turning his back to the group in a defiant way, seemingly busy picking flowers.
It was his character that inspired Zsófi Kemény to write her poem about the painting upon request by the Hungarian National Gallery. The 20 year old writer, poet and slammer has been active in Hungary’s contemporary literary scene since she was 17. Her unmistakably relaxed, smart, cheeky, ironic and brave, yet subtle and sensitive voice will now be made audible on stage by actor Gábor Csőre.
This special performance was created in 2016 as part of the „Text-tour” series curated by the Hungarian National Gallery. During these live events, that have now become cultic in Budapest, actors perform texts written by contemporary authors inspired by works of art, with the performances taking place in the gallery, resulting in unique moments of coexistence between fine arts, literature and theatre.
The performances of Text-tour 2016 were directed by theatre director Péter Valló, with the texts edited and finalised by dramaturge Krisztina Kovács.