One Minute Stories

A Night celebrating István Örkény

Date: 13 May
Time: 17:30
Venue:  Liszt Institute London
17-19 Cockspur St, London SW1Y 5BL

To mark the 110th birthday of Hungarian writer István Örkény, join us for an evening celebrating his famous ‘One Minute Stories’.

“When I was born, I was such a beautiful baby the doctor swept me up in his arms and going from room to room, showed me off to the entire hospital. I even smiled, they say, which made the mothers of the other babies sigh with envy.
This happened in 1912, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, and it was my only uncontested success, I think. From then on, my life has been one of continual decline. Not only did I lose much of my extreme good looks, but some of my hair and a few of my teeth as well.”
Introducing himself as such, István Örkény is one of the few Hungarian writers whose works and name have spread beyond the borders of the Eastern Block. Though he wrote only a handful of works - five plays and several short stories -, a few of these won him international acclaim, particularly The Toth Family in play form and Catsplay. When asked why he didn’t produce more work, Örkény answered with characteristic frankness: “I write only when I get an idea.”

Besides his dramas, István Örkény is best known for his one minute stories which became his trademark: short, succinct, often shocking, grotesque or absurd pieces, anecdotes, sometimes objets trouvés, taken from newspapers or official notices and slightly twisted, stories that “encapsulate some of the absurdity of the age in a succinct and hilarious manner.” (Miklós Györffy)

Örkény brought something radically new to literature by creating fantastic realism, which appeared to be the only valid and viable formal solution to fit a reality that had turned completely fantastic and absurd. Behind each of the almost Dadaistic situations he depicts, we sense the workings of history.
(Hungarian Literature Online)

To celebrate the genius of Örkény, the evening will feature the premiere screening of two films based on the One Minute Stories ‘In Memoriam Dr. H.G.K.’ and ‘Inquiry Into The State of My Health’; as well as include readings of other much loved Örkény tales from actors Joe Bannister, Bethan Cullinane and Ian Pirie, and a Q&A with the makers of the films and the foremost translator of Örkény’s work Judith Solossy.

Registration is FULL.