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Szerző/Author: Szolláth Dávid (Institute of Literary Studies, Center for Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest)
E-mail: dszollat@yahoo.com
Rövid életrajz/Bio: Dávid Szolláth, PhD is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Literary Studies, Center for Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest. He is a managing editor of the literary studies review Literatura and author of three books, „A kommunista aszketizmus esztétikája” (Aesthetics of Communist Ascetism, 2011), “Bábelt kövenként” (Babel, stone by stone, 2019) and a monography on Miklós Mészöly (2020). His research covers the fields of modern and contemporary Hungarian literature, history of leftist aesthetical thinking.
How to cite: Theatron Vol. 15, No. 4. (2021): 110–120.
Cím/Title (ENG): Political or Aesthetical Subversion? Strategies of Avant-Garde Speaking Choirs in Interwar Hungary

Speaking choirs were underground artistic groups of labor-class youth in Hungary in the period between the two World Wars. The groups, led mostly by Avant-Garde artists, were artistic and political communities also. Dadaism, Expressionism and Constructivism, Soviet Proletkult and revolutionary mass festivals had considerable influence on the speaking choir movement. Politically, a number of the choirs were influenced by the Social Democratic Party, others by the illegal Communist Party, but some of them, such as the choir of Kassák or the company of Palasovszky, were autonomous leftist groups that strove to remain detached from any kind of party influence.

In the paper I will give two examples of works written especially for speaking choirs. One is a poem by probably the best known twentieth century Hungarian poet, Attila József (Tömeg [Crowd], 1930). The other is a mass play of multiple choirs written for street performance. It is called Punalua (1926), it was written by a lesser known Avant-Gardist poet and stage director, Ödön Palasovszky, and due to its grand scale, it was never performed. The poem of Attila József, though a masterpiece of its genre, remains enclosed in its own sociocultural context whereas Punalua is still open to reinterpretations.