Ezen a hétvégén, Kolozsváron, nyelven portugálul, A SALEMI BOSZORKÁNYOK van.
Yes, Hungarian might be a hard language to understand at first, even harder than Portuguese. So, unless you speak Hungarian, you might be reading the Romanian or English subtitles when the Portuguese gets difficult.
But if you want to see a Portuguese language play without leaving Cluj, now is your chance. The play is The Crucible, that play about the Salem Witch Trials by Arthur Miller. That was one of my favourite “contemporary” plays as a teenager (along with A Man for All Seasons and a few others).
Saturday, 22 April and Sunday 23rd April, 2023.
I will repeat that for group moderators, there are adequate English subtitles at the Hungarian theatre in Cluj. And besides, Portuguese speakers might want to hear about a play being performed in their native language.
Miller wrote The Crucible in reaction to the so-called Communist WitchHunt of the McCarthy era. After world War II, when many in the US were regretting their “isolationist” neutrality, people were busy looking for enemies. And so, senators warned of disloyal Americans who they claimed were communist.
One of the biggest victims of this witch hunt were the people in the cultural sector who refused to denounce their friends and colleagues. Yes, for refusing to denounce someone or their alleged politics, you were labelled as part of the enemy.
But the term Witch Hunt didn’t mean looking for real witches. Rather, in order to save themselves or to get what they want, many would point the finger at those who they were jealous of. In most cases a witch hunt is not really a search for witches, but a wild goose chase, where people search for someone to persecute just because they are bullies. The victims have no interest in witchcraft whatsoever. Just as windmills are not giants out to attack Don Quixote.
That same atmosphere happens in the west today.
(Note, I read in Magazinul that Don Quixote was based on a real person. There is documentary evidence of a Spanish man who actually attacked windmills. Yes, every country has its nuts, but America could do with term limits to keep the anti-expat nuts out of Congress).
Arthur Miller found a historical outlet to criticise this chasing of windmills. Only, a witch hunt is worse than chasing windmills (or any kind of Wild Goose Chase) because you end up with innocent human victims. (To my fundamentalist friends: If real witches exist, all you need to do to protect yourself is pray, not drown random people in water).
There is a new witch hunt today, I would venture to say, against expats. Senators, mostly Democrats this time, are defaming Americans with dual citizenship (including accidental Americans) by claiming they are living abroad to dodge taxes.
What evidence do they have? Perhaps Biden lost his chickens, I know quite a few stories of Americans who lost their marbles (or dropped them around a speaker they disagreed with).
Now, I have never, ever, met a single American abroad who moved abroad to dodge taxes. The most common reason, I found, that Americans live abroad is that they marry a non-American who cannot easily get a greencard to live in the United States. It is usually easier for the American to emigrate than their non-American significant other to immigrate.
The second most common reason is that even after living in the United States, many non-American spouses are discriminated against or just have trouble blending in to the American culture. They find it easier to live in the Old World than the new.
And even though I dislike Trump, the way he has been treated over the past four years is nothing short of a witch hunt. There is a segment of America that just can’t help it, looking for enemies to avoid talking about the domestic problems they are causing at home. If they see the pilgrims of the Mayflower as their ancestors, perhaps they should also face the puritans of Salem Witch Trials.
There are other reasons to leave the United States, of course. No one wants to live in a country that votes for the likes of Donald Trump or Joe Biden. No one wants to live in a place where people interrupt speakers they dislike with marble bombs. No one wants to live in a country with senile senators who carry out modern day witch hunts. Okay, maybe some people do, but I haven’t met any.
But, the United States of America has produced some great cultural pioneers, like Arthur Miller. It is great to see some of the best parts of American culture abroad.
All that aside, I doubt they are putting on the play to make a political statement. If they are, it is probably a statement about Portugal (it is a Portuguese troupe after all).
The Crucible is just a good play, about how deadly sins like jealousy and lust can lead otherwise good people to greater sin of wrath. It has a similar moral to The Hunchback of Notre Dame (at least, to the Disney version).
As I already wrote, the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj is a good theatre with easy to read subtitles in English. For a troupe to be invited all the way from Portugal, I am guessing they must be pretty good too.
The big downside of that theatre is that in order to work there, you probably have to be fluent in three languages.
Vocabulary (for teachers of advanced English):
- Witch Hunt
- according to the dictionary, it is a campaign against someone because they hold views different from the rest of society. However, since Arthur Miller’s play, it has grown to mean any form of bullying that seeks to slander victims in order to justify attacking them.
- Wild Goose Chase
- Looking for something that isn’t there or cannot be found. (my dictionary lists pursuing something that cannot be caught.) You are usually sent on a wild goose chase by someone who wants to waste your time.
- Chasing Windmills
- fighting against imaginary enemies or looking for confrontation when there is none. Like Don Quixote does in the Cervantes novel.
- Like Don Quixote, picking fights with imagined enemies or simply being paranoid about enemies that do not exist. Or in other ways like that character.
- Lost their Marbles (to lose one’s marbles)
- This term means that a normally sane and intelligent person starts acting insane and unintelligent. The term losing one’s marbles may be referring senility or mental illness, but it is most commonly to comment on someone’s irrational behaviour. My favorite use of this word is in Hook, with Robin Williams. But here is another example from the upcoming Romanian play, Bula goes to London.
Bula: I am moving to Detroit.
Boris: Have you lost your marbles?