Kristóf Kelemen - Bence György Pálinkás: Hungarian Acacia
The performance on 22 April is presented with English subtitles.
Plant story on an alien species that became Hungary’s most patriotic tree.
The black locust or false acacia tree, considered the most Hungarian tree by 63% of the Hungarian population, arrived 300 years ago from North America, and took root in a Hungarian aristocrat’s garden. After centuries, this exceptionally persistent and adaptive species outpaced all native types to become Hungary's most widespread tree. Nevertheless, the black locust is divisive and triggers a range of emotions among Hungarians. Many environmentalists dislike and criticize the tree, while thousands of other people earn a living from it.
In 2014, a new EU regulation was passed on the prevention, eradication and management of several alien species. Ecological issues suddenly became mixed up with politics. Surprisingly, the ruling party of Hungary, led by Viktor Orbán, despite previously suggesting the possibility of eradicating the invasive alien black locust tree, now voted against the regulation, and used the case as an argument in their anti-Brussels campaign, saying “We send this message to Brussels! We are protecting the Hungarian land, the free pálinka distillation, the honey, and the black locust!”
This production tells how the native American black locust tree became a national and political symbol in Hungary. How can a tree, living its limited life, become subject to political debates? How do politicians exploit carefully selected or even manipulated ecological facts about the black locust?
Based on this, Kelemen and Pálinkás launched a new movement, aiming to reframe the black locust as a symbol of open society. Members of the movement visited politically symbolic locations, and popularized a new, liberal, and receptive ideal of a community via black locust planting events. “Anybody who can take root in Hungarian soil can be Hungarian.” In the performance, participants re-enact these actions, play music, and recite political speeches, and they also present their future plans.
The question is: is their movement going to take root? Will they be as persistent as the black locust trees now thriving in dry flatlands and abandoned mines?
Performers: Angéla EKE, Katalin HOMONNAI, Kristóf KELEMEN, Márton KRISTÓF, Bence György PÁLINKÁS
Music: Márton KRISTÓF
Directors' assistant: Anita TOTOBÉ
Coordination: Réka Judit KISS
Production manager: Judit BÖRÖCZ
Set design: Dániel BALÁZSI, Fanni HEGEDŰS
Technical assistance: Márk SZAPU
Photography: Krisztina CSÁNYI
Director, concept: Kristóf KELEMEN, Bence György PÁLINKÁS