Madach Theater welcomed nearly 6,000 spectators in June, even with closed doors

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The appearance of the coronavirus also affected entertainment industry and theaters: due to the forced closures, an alternative solution was needed to serve the audience. By the collaboration between Madach Theater and IBM Budapest Lab, viewers were able to see 11 performances live online in June.

The live performances were broadcasted from the actors’ home via IBM’s Video Streaming platform developed in Budapest and runs on IBM public cloud. With this solution, viewers with tickets were able to follow the performances in the actors’ homes in HD quality.

“The IBM Budapest Lab team has been developing this platform for a long time, but so far it has been mostly used by global companies. Now it was used by a theatrical company operating just 800 meters from our office on Andrássy street – it is true that the developers and the actors were at home in the meantime. The nearly 6,000 unique viewers generated a total of 14,300 views from more than 30 countries during a single month, the most popular performance had 1,300 viewers”- said Balazs Kereskenyi, Director of IBM Budapest Lab.

“Overnight, we found ourselves in a desperate situation. All of us: Hungarians and non-Hungarians, theaters and non-theater people. Ordinary life changed in moments. I have lived in theater for a significant part of my life and I know that compulsion is the best muse. There is not only despair but also chance in the crisis. In this situation, I found the solution that was feasible at that moment. Performing two-actor plays with married couples (who live in a “viral community”) and the venue is the artists ’apartment. From here it was only a step to find the plays and to get the online broadcasting rights, in which my great partners were Júlia Debreczeni and the Theatrum Mundi Theater Agency, my wonderful co-creators Eszter Nagy-Kalozy and Peter Rudolf, and my composer friend Levente Gulyas. Next year, with you, his team will also be led by director Maria Harangi, with acting by Lotti Kovacs and Janos Szemenyei. In real time, live performances were born in every element, with all its excitement, as a one-off and unrepeatable experience. We are grateful to CEO Tamas Liszka and Budapest Film for providing the technical capability of the live broadcast, but the biggest thanks go to IBM Budapest Lab, who stood by us at our first word and provided many thousands of people to take part in this special event, a theatrical novelty”- said Tamas Szirtes, director of the Madach Theater.

Eszter Nagy-Kalozy, one of the actors in the performance ‘Hold My Hand forever’ says: “I am happy and proud to have been a part of this fantastic play. A theater full of tension and vibration on one side and a technics full of tension and vibration on the other. In this story, none could have existed without the other. And all in real time. Many, many wonderful performances and meetings accompany my career, this Chekhov-like experience is one of the most beautiful.”

“Growing up on the sci-fi of the 80’s, it seemed a distant future that we would ever be communicating with each other in a video chat. This has now become a reality. We got the instructions through a laptop, which seemed strange in the first few weeks, but as much as we benefited from it, we could use it in later productions as well. Although the personal chemistry between the spectator and the actor is irreplaceable, the fact that from smaller rural towns through France to Sydney has reached audiences who might not have ever seen it otherwise – is not a negligible aspect for the future” – adds Janos Szemenyei, actor of ‘Same Time, Next Year’.

Tamas Liszka, CEO of Budapest Film, also highlights the virtual theatrical experience: “I can’t imagine Budapest without our cinemas and theaters, but now we had to keep them closed for a long time in the spring. With the creation of Tavmozi and SzinpadON, we invited the creators and the audience to a joint game: we gave performances even when it would have been impossible by all logic. I will never forget the special experience of standing up in my own living room applauding the actors, and in the meantime, I know I feel many hundreds doing the same thing with me in their own homes at the same time. ”

“Since the spread of the coronavirus, IBM has offered a set of public cloud technologies and services free of charge in many areas (education, arts, NGOs, GOs) and is the initiator of several scientific projects related to curbing the virus” – added Balazs Kereskenyi.

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