Saturday, March 19, 2011

Once upon a HOLNEMVOLT 3.


We woke up early in the morning (well, I did - many people seemed to have decided to sleep in), ready for the second day of Holnemvolt.

This time, Wayqui was the first performer; he brought us a full hour of Peruvian folktales that would have made most of the Folklore Department cry from pure joy. His authentic stories were beautiful and amazing, and at the same time, funny (the legend of the son of the rainbow; the tale of the little blue stones; the journey of the three animals). I had a great time translating for him.

Birgit brought us tales about luck and happyness; she was dressed all in red, and she was an elegant Lady Luck, a teenage Cleverness, Ali the Fortunate, and many other characters all at the same time. She sang some songs too, and they all made us feel lucky and happy.

Tone followed Birgit; she told us tales about the dangers of taking a bath. It started out funny and delightful; but as the stories went on, it touched upon some more serious issues as well (King David and Bathsheba; Susanna and the elders). It was a wonderful, wonderful program, and gave us a lot to think about.

Szende told her székely folktales again, with laughter and dancing and puppets and jokes; the audience participated willingly, and they all had a great time. Szende has the power to be a wise woman and a cute little girl at the same time. I wonder how she does it.

Angela was the last performer of the day; she had an amazing story about Baba Yaga going to New York. She told it with momentum, and magic, and song, and it was about twice as exciting as watching an action movie. It was one part Russian folklote, one part Night Watch, and one part Fables, all mixed into a story that made my mouth hang wide open. It was unbelievable.

After the big performances, we had some time left for a SWAP! Four people from the audience volunteered to tell. One of them was Jay Miller, who is an American storyteller currently living in Budapest (who would have thought?). He told us two stories with voice and pantomime, and audience participation, and everyone loved him. My friend Juli also told a Bulgarian folktale about the journey of the storks from Europe to Africa. I can't hear that story enough.

Because the festival took place in a Lutheran church, Sunday afternoon was time for a service. Instead of one, we decided to tell religious and spiritual stories; I think it was one of the best parts of the festival. Wayqui, for example, told a Perucian myth; Tone told us a tale about an elf building a church in Norway (and we could see her transform into an elf on the stage). Angela told her African folktale of finding your inner strength; we could see how the audience reacted to that, and how they all started to sing.

And with that, the festival was over. We thanked everyone who helped us; we gave our presents to the storytellers. We promised we would do it again next year.

After the closing ceremony, we all went out into the dark garden with candles in our hands; there was a small exhibition waiting for us among the trees that some of our friends put together from glass and porcelaine art, and every piece told us a different story. We wandered among the shadows with our little lights; it almost felt like finding our way back home after two days in another world.
All the tales are true.


  1. this sounds spectacular and rich. I can hardly believe that Laurence Beneditti from Paris and I were so nearby in Warsaw telling stories for three days in Castles and in the storyteller Museum. I had the joy to tell stories for the Jewish Community in Warsaw. I wish I had the way to have come and listened. It is great that you wrote it up. It is fabulous to read about the day and to feel your generosity. best of luck with the festival to continue and continue. xx laura

  2. Thank you for writing. I've been wondering and it sounds like it was a smashing success. Good on you!

  3. Szia!
    It sounds like a perfect start to establishing this as a tradition. Your audience could travel the world through stories and see what storytelling can be. Hungary has such a rich wealth of its own tales, maybe now this will encourage telling them, too.
    If I can ever go to Hungary, this festival would have to be when to visit the land of some of my ancestors. Truly sounds like magic was created and will continue to occur.

  4. Czenge, I am SOOOOOO happy for you and Budapest! You did it! You DID it! You dared to dream, you cared to share, you persevered through all the hurdles and unexpected problems, and you created something magical, exciting and wonderful, a gift for everyone involved. I wish I could have gone. I wish I could go to future one(s!