Name: Esztella Levko
Graduated: BA (Hons) European Theatre Arts (ETA) 2008
Over the years, as a freelance artist, I’ve had the opportunity to work across Europe with various companies including The European Center for Theatre Practices GARDZIENICE (Poland), Compagnia Pippo Delbono (Italy), Compagnie Philippe Genty (France) and ViaNegativa (Slovenia). I’m currently based in Hungary.
As a student of ETA, I was introduced to different techniques and approaches of acting that have helped and guided me in my career. I am never afraid of change and I have been always hungry for new experiences in my work.
After I graduated from the European Theatre Arts course, I worked for almost four years in Poland with The European Center for Theatre Practices GARDZIENICE, where I had the chance to tour around Europe with their performances Elektra, Iphigenia in A…, Odyssey and Metamorphoses. Being a member of Gardzienice gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge about physical theatre and experience a specific actor training method where singing, mutuality and a kind of ritualized process, where communication and exchange are in focus. During the years I spent in Gardzeinice, I developed my ethics of working in theatre, which I have carried with me since.
After the work with Gardzienice, I decided to move towards a more classical approach of acting and I went to Moscow for a year, to study at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. After leaving Moscow, I started to concentrate on my own method of creation, suited to my interests. I created a solo performance, Lady Macbeth Indoors, which premiered in Budapest’s Trafó House of Contemporary Arts and was subsequently invited to perform at festivals in Japan, Slovakia and Poland. When creating the performance my aim was to incorporate various art forms into one performance that dealt with the questions of intimacy, sensuality and femininity, in a manner that is directly imposed on the spectators. I wanted to test out and explore unknown territories that usually separate the actor from the spectator, absorbing the audience into a fictional world in which a woman shares her secrets about desire, love and death and looks at the audience to evoke the question: who is actually being watched, who is the observer and what are the rules of this game?
After creating this performance, whilst I was collaborating with a range of different theatre companies touring to a range of Eastern-European festivals such as TESZT Euroregional Theatre Festival (Romania), Desire Central Station Festival, Infant International Theatre of Alternative and New Theatre (Serbia) and ExPonto (Slovenia). During this time, I realised that I needed to start sharing my work in a different way. I began to teach and lead training where I had the chance to reflect on my own experience. In my training, the body acts as a dynamic, instinctive and honest tool. This is a form of theatre in which gestures, text, and live music form a unity.
In 2016 I was invited to Scotland to play the lead in Locked In a film that tells a story of two asylum seekers who fled after torture and find themselves in the UK again, detained by the state. The film has been selected to play at festivals in both the UK and the USA.
Whilst being a student of ETA, I had learnt to look into the cultural sources and social context of making theatre. This gave me a base to further my academic studies, completing a master's degree in Cultural Anthropology at Eötvös Lóránd University (Budapest) – whilst still working professionally as a performer. During my anthropology studies, I conducted some field research in Iran, focusing on the political aspects of contemporary Iranian theater and dance. This year, I have received a scholarship to continue my research in Iran and I have begun a PhD in sociology (also at the Eötvös Loránd University). Most recently, I am living in Budapest, working both in Hungary and Romania, with the Hungarian state theatre, Csiky Gergely Színház.
ETA showed me how to think differently about theatre and how to take matters into my own hands. I realised that I have to look at theatre in a complex way, I have to look at it as a process in which I, as a creator, can have many different roles and have the freedom to move and explore within these roles. I would recommend this course to anyone who has the interest and desire to explore the different territories of theatre making. As a performer who is training, it’s hugely important to work on your own craft and keep looking for a new challenge, ETA provides the perfect foundation for this, then it’s up to you build the house.