There is no exchange of views anymore, we don’t talk about a subject; there are only extremist reactions, stigmatization of each other. It does not matter what one says, but who says it – Gábor Tompa summarizes the nature of public debates nowadays.
Gábor Tompa taught directing for more than a decade at universities in the United States, from California to New York and Florida. The renowned artist and director of the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj reflects upon the hypocrisy of political correctness overseas in the new online television talk show from the Székelyhon news and media company.
After 14 years of teaching in the US, director and professor Gabor Tompa decided to retire. Although he met some extraordinary people among both his students and colleagues within the faculty, one of the reasons for his relatively early retirement (he is 62) — besides the several exhausting trips overseas and back to his family and theater community at home — was the spectacular decline of academic values within his department, where hypocritical political correctness had been taken so far that censorship gradually replaced artistic excellence and freedom of expression. Some of these ideological discourses reminded him of those in the Soviet Union of the 1920s or the so-called cultural revolution in Ceausescu’s Romania.
The so-called ultra-liberals, who have nothing in common with the traditional values of liberalism itself, are trying to brainwash an entire young generation and persuade them to delete the cultural heritage of an entire millennium. Activists divide the world into comrades and enemies, replacing dialogue with intolerance, he says. In Tompa’s opinion, theatre should serve as a tool of reconciliation in the extremely divided society of our contemporary world.
“For example, one of my students wished to direct Bertold Brecht’s play, The Good Person of Szechwan, but he was stopped because they detected that it would be offensive and not correct to have white actors portray Chinese characters,” he says, recounting one story, which contradicts the very idea that theater is not a place of isolation but one of connection.
Tompa pointed out: “Nonetheless, I love America, I love the real diversity of the country. I love teaching, and I am proud of my students, who proved to be able to think maturely in many delicate situations.”
Director Gábor Tompa was the guest of the Nézőpont (“Point of View”) online TV show on the Youtube channel of Székelyhon.ro