Staged Performance

Hungary in the 1980s. She leaves home wearing a blue skirt and a white blouse with a red pioneer scarf. Her mum has prepared her uniform with care, so it looks proper for this special day. The child loves reciting poems and as she had previously won competitions for doing this, she was chosen for this occasion too. 

After one of the lessons, a silver Volga arrives at school to pick her and another girl up to take them to the party building. The Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party is celebrating with a great feast. She has learnt the poem by heart, although she doesn’t like it. It was chosen by her Hungarian literature and grammar teacher who made her practise the poem over and over again in preparation for this big event. The girl liked teasing her teacher by accentuating the poem in the wrong way. This made her teacher angry.  

In the party building, which is in the very centre of town, there are many men wearing dark suits. Their singing of The Internationale fills the hall. Flags and photos of important party members hang on the wall and the tables are covered with red tablecloths. The girl doesn’t feel nervous about reciting the poem. She enjoys having the audience pay attention to her. She recites the poem about building communism and a better future with the right accent. When the poem ends, the whole great hall claps for her. The girls are invited for some snacks, ‘pogácsa’, and juice. She is proud of her performance and imagines her parents being proud too when she tells them about her recital. She also feels happy about missing some lessons at school and looks forward to publicly reciting a poem again – regardless of what it’s about.