Imitation of Life – Tampere Theatre Festival’s international bonus


This year’s international addition to the festival’s Main programme is the Hungarian Imitation of Life directed by Kornél Mundruczó. The show will be livestreamed from Trafó House of Contemporary Arts in Budapest to Tampere Hall Main Auditorium on Thursday, August 5th. This is a once in a lifetime experience: Proton Theatre is going to perform simultaneously for live audience in Budapest and virtually in Tampere Hall. Theatre lovers in different parts of Europe are going to have a shared experience. The performance is not going to be recorded which makes it even more special.

Based on a true story

Imitation of Life is based on an actual case file with the Budapest police. A Roma boy was violently attacked in a bus. It turned out that the attacker was also a Roma. The incident caused an uproar in the local media and the unwritten rules of the Hungarian society and internalized racism were discussed. Constant inequality can lead to self-hatred and denying one's own roots.

Inspired by the incident, Imitation of Life leads us to one question: Do we get to choose our destiny or is our life predetermined?

A Visually powerful story of marginalization

Imitation of Life takes a stand on the development of the Hungarian society by mixing beautifully the tools of movie and theatre. A lively image of the story setting is created by combining different means of expression. 

The show is a visually powerful story of marginalization and injustice. This amazingly poetic work takes the audience into the depths of a metropolis where the unwritten rules of society change human fates.

The story begins when a tough-as-nails repo man shows up to evict a woman from her apartment. Something unexpected happens, throwing the man off and sending him deep into his conscience. It turns out that this sordid residence has some dark secrets, and even the next tenants are not safe.

A trailblazer of contemporary European theatre gives a voice to the silenced

Kornél Mundruczó is a famous Hungarian film and theatre director. He studied at the Hungarian University for Film and Drama and qualified as an actor in 1998 and as a film director in 2003. During his career he has directed both theatre performances and films successfully. His movie Pieces of a Woman (2020) was nominated for an Oscar in the category of best actress. The film is available to watch on Netflix.

Mundruczó had consistently worked with the same actors and they had formed a steady work group. Eventually Mundruczó founded his own theatre company, Proton Theatre. It has, among theatre and film production, taken part in many different multidisciplinary projects.Their works have toured around the world.

Like Imitation of Life, Mundruczó’s other work also deal with difficult topics and discuss social phenomena. His goal is to give a voice for people who are often left unheard. According to Mundruczó, if the topic is interesting and moving enough it can be turned either into a film or a theatre performance – only the point of view changes.

The difficult political situation of Hungary causes challenges also for culture-makers. Still, Mundruczó has stated that he does not think that theatre should be used as a tool of political protest. Its purpose is to simply show what is happening in this world in its whole complexity. Theatre can also offer comfort for those that have faced difficulties. Proton Theatre is an independent theatre company, and it uses its freedom to tell stories from all sides of society.


The article has been ensembled on basis of following sources:

Art Connect:

Proton Theatre: Imitation of Life:

Theatre Festival Boulevard: Imitation of Life: Kornél Mundruczó: Kornél Mundruczó:

SPRING performing arts festival: Interview Kornél Mundruczó:

Text: Ilona Lahtinen


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