Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Szeretlek A Hungarian Love Story. Photo credit: Eva Szabo

Szeretlek A Hungarian Love Story. Photo credit: Eva Szabo

Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story by Zita Nyarady and Myque Franz
August 18 – 20, 22, 25, 27 at the Academy at King Edward

An interview with Zita Nyarady.

Describe your show in one sentence.

In a tiny Hungarian village in 1946, witness a dynamic physical theatre telling of my grandmother’s true story of how love can blossom in the aftermath of the darkest times.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description of your show?

Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story is the true story of my grandmother meeting her first love in post-WW2 Hungary. Last year she turned 90 years old and we interviewed her about her life and she told us a love story. Then she gave us consent to put her story on stage!

We (my husband Myque Franz and I) tell this beautiful, shocking and charming story with a mix of storytelling, music, dance, masks, Hungarian culture and linguistics.

Why did you want to bring your grandmother’s love story to the stage when you heard it on the eve of her 90th birthday?

I love true stories and I love family stories. Growing up I’ve heard bits and pieces of my grandmother’s story but it wasn’t till we interviewed her that we got the whole picture.

I connect to this story in a few different ways. First of all, it is a beautiful example of how even in the darkest of times (in this case post-war Hungary) love can still find a way to grow. Second, as a child of new Canadians, the act of telling this story provides a way to connect with my family heritage. Traveling across the country with this show I have connected with other Hungarian-Canadians and audience members with family from different cultural backgrounds who find a personal connection with how we put a family story on stage. Finally, it has been a wonderful way to honour someone who continues to be one of the most influential people in my life, my grandmother.

How is Hungarian culture integrated into Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story?

We integrate Hungarian culture into the show in a number of ways but the three ways that stand out the most are music, language and dance. The majority of the soundtrack are pieces of Hungarian music that range from folk music to classical music to Hungarian music from the 1940s. To accompany the music we infuse some Hungarian dance in the show and teach the audience a simple (very simple) step. Finally, as one of the main characters is a linguist we also incorporate Hungarian language. For example, we teach the audience how to say Szeretlek and what it means!

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Telling a family story can be challenging, especially when your family has a lot of opinions on how the story should be told. As a result, my family became part of the creation process and ensured that everything in this show is 100% true.

Finally, people often ask if my grandmother has seen the show. Yes, she has. She saw our performance at the Ottawa Fringe. At first, she requested not to be singled out, which I planned to honour.  At the end of each show, I always thank my grandmother for letting us tell her story. I was in the midst of this when she jumped to her feet and started to smile and wave to the audience!!!  While we have received praise for this piece (4 1/2 STARS Winnipeg Free Press) my grandmother’s review is is by far one of my favorites!

The 36th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 17 – 27. Get your tickets at .

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