Soharoza Nonprofit Association
In this series, we ask i-Portunus Houses participants to tell us their stories and experiences. At the end of each story, we invite you to reflect with us on important themes about mobility in the arts and civil society.
Eastern bloc is a production of Catwalk Concert Productions and the Soharóza Nonprofit Association in cooperation with international artists from the four Visegrad countries, exploring our common past and present in the region which was called the Eastern bloc, or the ex-socialist countries, from a quite special point of view. After beginning with the preparations through brainstorming online, the creators of the planned show, a “catwalk concert”, met for the first time personally in a small village in the north of Hungary, Nagybörzsöny, to spend a week together and create a common base of thoughts and ideas of the project.
Although several participants of different countries never met each other before, it was amazing how quickly a feeling of understanding established, a kind of togetherness and mutual inspiration.
After a few hours on the first night of the workshop spent with getting to know each other, showing the former works to each other and watching inspirational material, videos or old TV-programs, the participants went to the conceptional discussions already as one team.
The main topic of those discussions was how the concept should be modified due to the newest historical situation. The horrible war just behind our borders makes really out of place the original idea of looking ironically back to the past, with a kind of forgiving laughter about ourselves, as if we had those times definitely behind us.
However, we don’t want to give up the concept of a special, “bottom view” on the system we all experienced in some way – of course, the younger members of the team, born after the collapse of the socialist bloc, only through narration, or by the ever-present impact of those times on our societies. So, we agreed on placing the whole story in the future and inventing a fictional state, generated by the fusion of our four countries, and celebrating this very fusion in a TV-program. This country – with an own name, flag, history, national hymn, language, etc. – will however in many ways remind us of our lives before the changes of ’89.
In a couple of days, as we reached this kind of common ground on the concept, the participants of the workshop split in smaller groups to work in detail on the different aspects of the planned show: costume, music, lights, video, text, etc., gathering from time to time again to share the results and the new ideas, questions or suggestions.
The days began with a warm-up led by our choreographer Joanna and ended with talking in a more informal way about our project, which took each day a more definite shape.
For the last 3 days of the workshop, another fifteen members of Soharóza choir joined in, they were informed about the state of the project until the moment and then took part of the creative work too.
The Hungarian premiere of the show will take place in Trafó on the 9th of September 2022, and we hope we will be able to tour in the respective countries in the coming years.
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Eastern Bloc is a catwalk concert that addresses the communist past of Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic through an international co-production that draws on the music and visuals that defined the above-mentioned era in each of these countries. This is why the Budapest-based Soharóza choir invites artists (costume designers, singers, musicians, and a choreographer) from the three other Visegrad countries to co-create a project on our collective past under the Soviet regime.