Imre Csuja: “It is better to fly in formation”

An interview with the popular actor Imre Csuja about his career, future plans, and his film roles.

 

You are well-known for the public both as a dubbing actor and a movie star. It is a public belief that most of the actors are rather proud of their theatrical works. What is your attitude to your film- and voice actor roles?

Look, all the three spheres are different from each other. One can prefer dubbing and filming for themselves. Playing in theatre is great for other reasons. Performing in theatre is of course a happening once experience, unrepeatable. The outcome of a theatrical performance depends on the current form, the level of preparation, and the audience as well. We always say that the audience “directs” the play too by the way they react to what they see on the stage.

What were the main motives for choosing the career path of acting?

I decided to become an actor when I was seventeen because I felt that I can express myself by acting. Acting is extremely interesting and exciting.

Who inspired you at the beginning of your career?

I was inspired by my grandmother. She inspired me unconsciously by teaching me a lot of poems. Later on, I joined acting clubs in the community arts centre of Hajdúnánás.

Have you ever had any “dream role”?

I don’t really dare to name any dream role for superstitious reasons. I am afraid that if I ended up playing a role like that, I would be disappointed because things would not work out the way I have planned before. That would be awful! My dream is to play the roles I am entrusted to do as good as I can. That’s a nice dream enough, isn’t it?

If you had to name a specific point in your career, after which a “boom”, an upswing came along, what would that point be?

I played in theatres since graduation, but the real turning-point in my career came in 1996, when I was asked to play in the film of Attila Janisch called Hosszú Alkony. I may be called a film actor from that point on.

Most of our readers probably identify you with the character of Csoki from the cult film Glass Tiger (Üvegtigris). How much is the heritage of Csoki burdensome for you?

It’s not burdensome at all. It has become the part of my life too. Thank God, I am not identified only with that role, but with many others as well. Undoubtedly the role of Csoki made me really popular, but I don’t think it is burdensome when strange people smile at me on the street, or recognize me in the shop just because I am Csoki for them.

You had worked in Pécs, Debrecen and Eger before you came to Budapest and got engaged to the János Arany Theatre. From 1994, you worked as a freelance artist. What is your view on that period of your life? What were the disadvantages and advantages of being a freelance actor?

I would say that it had only positive effects. On the one hand, during that period I could take a lot of dubbing jobs. On the other hand, I was invited to play as a guest actor in the József Katona Theatre at that time, which meant a great leap forward for me. So, I worked quite a lot at that time and felt freedom in terms of the role selection.

How much different is it to play in the Örkény Theatre?

It is better to fly in formation. This is a great company, and we try to perform as well as we can. We manage to do so more or less.

Besides your theatrical works, you are currently performing in Ady Endre evenings. Where did the idea of these Ady evenings come from?

A great friend of mine whom I have known since college György Halmi came up with the idea ten years ago. Back then I did not consider myself mature enough to play in an evening like this. We began to plan these evenings again two years ago, and the next week we are already going to rehearse the second part. About ten rehearsals are needed, and then we will see if there is real interest on the part of the audience.

What period of Ady’s poetry is focussed on in these evenings?

The focus is not just on one particular period of Ady’s poetry. Our aim was to give the audience a unified, complete view on Ady’s poetry.

You are currently performing in the puppet theatre adaptation of Mihály Babits’s Jonah’s Prayer. What sort of actor attitude is required in these performances? What are the feedbacks from the audience?

Playing in that adaptation is a special experience. I was asked to contribute by a university student girl who had chosen Babits’s work as the topic of her exam play. I had to learn the basic methods of how to move a puppet. The puppet I have to use on my own is normally moved by three people, so my hands are tied very much. What amazes me about playing with the puppet is that since I am not a professional puppet artist, whatever move I make independently of the puppet can result in a completely different interpretation due to the presence of the puppet. Thank God, I can say that the audience likes this adaptation.

How do you see the future of the Örkény Theatre, and in general the future of Hungarian theatrical art?

I cannot really predict the future. Our task is to live up to the expectations by doing our best. I honestly hope that all the efforts we make, the hard work will bear fruit.

In what plays can you be seen in the immediate future?

We have recently produced the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge. I am also playing in the Kasimir and Karoline, Picturebook of Good Children, Finito, The Turkey, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the Örkény Theatre.

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