The director of the Gerhart Hauptmann Theatre brings an international perspective to stage productions in Zittau and Görlitz.

Dorotty Szalma has ambitious plans for Zittau and Görlitz. The young director of the Gerhart Hauptmann Theatre is giving stage performances in Saxony an international flavour. The region’s first tri-national theatre festival has recently drawn to a successful close. Dorotty Szalma is a true European with a background that reflects today’s more open continent. She was born in Hungary in 1974, gained her high school leaving certificate in Austria and went on to study in Vienna and Frankfurt. She then worked at universities and theatres in Hungary and all the German-speaking countries, directing 43 productions to date.

Where three countries meet

Gerhart Hauptmann, after whom the theatre in Zittau is named, once wrote: “Being European came just as naturally to me as being German, and perhaps one could not be a proper German if one didn’t also feel European.” Dorotty Szalma had this quotation printed in the programme for the “3Länderspiel 2014” international theatre festival, thereby defining what she aims to achieve in her work. As an important trading centre in years gone by, the town of Zittau has traditionally had an international outlook and its cultural scene needs to reflect this again, according to Szalma. She is particularly passionate about the annual festival held jointly with theatres in Liberec in the Czech Republic and Jelenia Gora in Poland. “Hungary was also involved this year as a fourth host country and brought us a stunning performance of King Lear,” she says. For next year, she’s toying with the idea of staging a play from Georgia.

“My work revolves around bringing utopian concepts to life,” the theatre director explains. One such utopia would be a joint theatre festival involving all three bordering countries, she says, making it possible to share the wonderful cultural experiences from Zittau and Görlitz with other regions.

Culture for everyone

Dorotty Szalma always remains focused on the audience in the local region. “We need to strike the right balance between old and new,” she says. Later this year, Szalma will stage the tale of “Karasek the Robber” at Jonsdorf open air theatre – and will cross even more boundaries, including those between Zittau and nearby Görlitz, which has been home to the Gerhart Hauptmann Theatre’s opera and musical theatre departments since 2011. She is successfully promoting an ongoing cultural exchange between the two towns: the Görlitz singers sometimes perform in Zittau, and Zittau’s performers often travel to Görlitz. The director is particularly pleased to see that the respective audiences also go along to enjoy performances in the neighbouring town.