The Csokonai Fórum – Debrecen’s newest theater place – opened on August 23, 2022, with the stage adaptation of Magda Szabó’s Für Elise. Katalin Novák, President of Hungary, also gave a speech at the opening.
The opening ceremony began with the blessing of three church dignitaries. Fülöp Kocsis, the archbishop-metropolitan of the Greek Catholic Archdiocese of Hajdúdorog, Károly Fekete, the bishop of the Tiszántúli Reformed Church District, and Ferenc Palánki, the county bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Debrecen-Nyíregyháza, consecrated the building.
The theater was opened by László Papp, mayor of Debrecen. The mayor called the event a historic moment, as the last time a rural theater was opened in Győr, Hungary, was 44 years ago, in 1978.
“The past two and a half decades have brought continuous and dynamic development and many changes in the life of Debrecen. We have had and still have the opportunity to experience the joyous moment of opening and handing over a new facility on countless occasions. But today is one of the most special occasions considering all the past events,”
– said, László Papp.
The mayor emphasized that, in addition to the Csokonai National Theater built in 1865, the Csokonai Forum will also be the guardian of the sweet mother tongue and Hungarian culture.
“By inaugurating a new theater in Debrecen, in addition to creating and preserving value, we are also expressing our faith in the future. We believe in the power of culture and art to preserve and unite a nation. We believe that acting, literature, music, and dance can create, preserve and convey national and universal values without which we would be unable to live a quality life, or even to exist at all,”
– he added.
László Papp emphasized that the new theater will be suitable for maintaining contact with companies of other nationalities and for the promotion of contemporary, modern art.
Katalin Novák, President of the Republic of Hungary, called the handing over of the Csokonai Forum a birth. As he said: the common characteristic of wars, epidemics, and economic challenges is that they want to stand in the way of life.
“But in the end, nothing can stand in the way of life, just like the culture. Culture grows out of life, and culture becomes life. In this way, neither war, nor an epidemic, nor a difficult economic situation can stand in the way of culture,”
– emphasized Katalin Novák in her speech.
Quoting from Cicero, the Katalin Novák added: “the muses are silent in war”.
“This sentence is mostly a warning, a warning, that if we let it go, that if we don’t listen, the muses will be silent. However, the muses are only really needed in difficult times, since it is a culture that can ease pain, dissolve fear, and help reconciliation. If we were to treat Cicero’s saying as a fact, then for us Hungarians, the XX. century, the muses would hardly have spoken or perhaps not at all. But even in the face of our fate in the last century, we always had the strength and heart to make room for culture,”
– the head of state added.
The opening performance of the Csokonai Forum was directed by Anna Ráckevei and based on Magda Szabó’s novel Für Elise.
Technical information about the Csokonai Forum:
As part of a European Union cooperation program along the Romanian-Hungarian border, Debrecen won funds for the completion of the theater building, which has been structurally ready for a longer period of time. In addition, the investment was supported by the Hungarian state within the framework of the Debrecen 2030 Program. With the Csokonai Forum, a multi-functional theater meeting all needs, modern, in line with 21st-century theater technology, and an art training center will be created, which will provide an ideal location for cross-border collaborations. The complex serves theater needs on an area of more than 5,000 square meters, and together with the training place, a total of more than 9,000 square meters of the new cultural area was created. The largest unit of the building is the chamber theater, which is a modern playground capable of accommodating 350 spectators. A revolving stage with a diameter of 10 meters was built into the stage space, with an orchestra pit equipped with a sink. The studio theater can accommodate 150 spectators. The design of its mobile stage podium and mobile auditorium allows the layout of the auditorium and the stage to be possible in any direction. The Orfeum, which can accommodate 100 spectators, can also function as a performance space. A theater academy with spacious rehearsal rooms and a 225-square-meter ballet hall was also created on the top floor of the facility. The investment was realized from a net amount of HUF 6.77 billion (approx 16393750.65 €) and was carried out by Társ-95 Acelzektur és Gépgyártó Építőipari Kereskedelmi Kft. and Laterex Építő Zrt.
Debrecen City Hall