Enikő Eszenyi studied at the Theatre and Film Academy in Budapest, and graduated as an actress in 1983. After graduation, she joined the company of the Vígszínház theatre in Budapest, one of the most prestigious and biggest theatres in Hungary, performing at three venues. On 1 February 2009 she was appointed Artistic Director of the Vígszínház. The first production she directed was of Büchner’s Leonce and Lena at the Budapest Chamber Theatre, which received seven awards at the Hungarian Theatre Festival 1991 and remained in the repertoire for five years. The next year, she staged West Side Story, for which she received another Best Theatre Director award. Her next production, Kleist’s Katie of Heilbronn, was similarly well received by the critics and audience alike. Her first Shakespeare production was As You Like It at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava in 1996, for which she was awarded the Best Director Prize at the International Theatre Festival in Nitra, Slovakia. Five years later she was nominated for the same award for her adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra, which she directed at the Slovak National Theatre. At the beginning of the 2000s, she directed Much Ado About Nothing both at the National Theatre in Prague and at the Vígszínház. Furthermore, she staged The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night in Prague. She continued to work abroad in 2003, when she staged István Örkény’s absurd play The Tot Family at the Bez Zábradlí Theatre in Prague. In 2005, she staged Lope de Vega’s The Dog in the Manger at the National Theatre in Prague. Owing to the international acclaim she had attained, she was invited to the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where she staged Brecht’s A Man’s A Man in January 2004. In 2014, she staged David Ives’s Venus in Fur at the Arena Theatre in Bratislava and in 2015 Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in St. Petersburg. In the meantime, she continued to direct in Budapest, at the Vígszínház and the Pesti Színház. She staged the productions of Grumberg’s The Workroom, Ostrovsky’s Even a Wise Man Stumbles, Vinterberg-Rukov-Hansen’s Festen, Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro, as well as Fiddler on the Roof, McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County, which gained great critical acclaim and garnered success at the Hungarian Theatre Festival. In 2009, she staged Shakespeare’s Othello, the first production during her tenure as Artistic Director at the Vígszínház, which was also performed at the International Festival of Theatres in Seoul, South Korea. Her most recent Shakespeare production is that of Romeo and Juliet at the Vígszínház, which has been the most popular and most attended Shakespeare performance over the past few theatre seasons in Hungary. Moreover, she has staged Simon Stephens’s Punk Rock, Hanoch Levin’s Suitcase Packers (for the first time in Hungary), Nestroy’s Lumpacius Vagabundus and Péter Nádas’s play Encounter. As an actress, she has appeared in numerous lead roles in drama masterpieces, including as Lady Ann, Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra, Rosalinda, Violet, Cordelia and the Fool (King Lear). Other remarkable performances she has given include those in the roles of Joan (Shaw: Saint Joan), Nastya (Gorky: The Lower Depths), Blanche (Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire), Margaret (Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Alison (Osborne: Look Back in Anger), Nora (Ibsen: A Doll’s House), for the latter of which she was voted Best Actress at the Hungarian Theatre Festival. Her most recent roles are Annette (Yasmina Reza: The God of Carnage), Shira (Hadar Galron: Mikveh), the Actress (Ferenc Molnár: The Guardsman) and Shen Teh / Shui Ta (Brecht: The Good Person of Szechwan), for which she received the Best Actress in a Lead Role prize at the Hungarian Theatre Festival and the Hungarian Theatre Critics Award. She has appeared in more than 25 film roles, attaining acclaim on the part of both professionals and audience. In addition, she has had five solo evenings, which were great successes in Hungary. Eszenyi has received several Hungarian state awards. She is the holder of the Jászai Mari Prize, the Artist of Merit and the Kossuth Prize (2001), the most prestigious Hungarian state award. Furthermore, she has received the Hungarian Republic’s Order of Merit. In 2010, she was appointed Ambassador of Hungarian Culture. The current production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola is her debut at the National Theatre Opera in Prague.
Photo: Daniel Dömölky