Interview with László Tar

Is it true that Lake Balaton lives only in summer?
The Balaton’s best and most profitable period is the summer season. To be more precise, five weeks are the so-called tourism season. Unfortunately, this is only true, when there is no rainy period during those five weeks. From autumn until spring, the Lake is basically dead from a touristic point of view, but of course this is not new for us, we have been in this situation for decades.

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Before I ask about the Summer Plays, I would like to know what the opportunities are during the winter season if there is any?
Well…… Usually the season is about visiting the sightseeing’s of the city. The museums are open and there is no lack of exhibitions, fortunately. It is, however, the summer season, which is the most profitable and hence the programs are focused on these five weeks.

Let’s jump to the summer plays. I know the reason behind these events is to attract more tourists in the summer season and it sounds great in theory. Does it work in practice as well?
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Last year, as always, we invited talented actors, whose name should convince people that this is something worth watching.

Last year in cooperation with Centrál Theatre we organized 4 plays: Black Comedy, Gossip Girl, Don’t Drink the water (Woody Allen’s famous play from 1965 which was translated as “Csak semmi pánik”), Comedy from New-York, Prisons of the 88th street. The actors playing in these plays were: Rudolf Péter, Básti Juli, Haumann Péter, Simon Kornél, Pokorny Lia, Liptai Claudia, Magyar Attila, Kern András. Sounds awesome, right? The truth is that three out of four were barely profitable, which made us thinking about the future of this tradition; after all, we need to convince somehow the mayor to take care of the financial issues. Gossip Girl

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It is horrible, after all this work and it does not even pay off. Given this woeful result how could you convince the mayor to keep supporting these programs?
To be honest, it was a miracle that he was even willing to talk about it. Most importantly, he needed to realize that “nothing ventured nothing gained”. Risk taking, of course is something, which is extremely hard, especially when it comes to money, but it is necessary to raise the number of tourists and the income.

What were the plays for this year?
Well, because of the difficulties we had previously we wanted to make sure the guests will be satisfied this year. We chose two plays: one of them is a musical show with the dancers of the Bozsik Yvette association. The other one is a love story, called Parfumerie, which takes place in one of the perfumeries in Budapest, right before the Second World War. We worked with the best actors in Central Theatre in order to raise our chances of getting a more positive feedback, and we hoped that the audience will like the shows we had prepared for them.

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I see, so how did it work out? This year’s plays are over and there must have been some calculations.
Well you know how it goes. Yes, we did the necessary calculations, and we were enormously relieved. It was not just profitable, which is sublime, but we were curious about the nationality of the audience. Truth be told, we did not expect many foreign tourist. From experience, I can tell you, when something is advertised only in Hungarian, understandably, no foreign tourist will pay attention to it.
Surprisingly, the results were shocking (in a good way) 23% of the tourists were from abroad, based on the sold tickets. Given the fact that the plays were only in Hungarian and they could not understand a single word, could not fully enjoy the performance. Twenty-three per cent… I was shocked…literally…. for 2 days I was looking for mistakes in the calculations but there was no mistake. The mayor was impressed and he was keen on discussing the next year’s programs, so like most of the films from Hollywood, this story has a happy ending.

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