It was May of 2016 and I was about to head off for a three week tour in Europe with Touchstone Theatre (Bhudoo performed in Budapest and at the FLIPT Theatre festival in Italy). My husband and I were having dinner with our neighbors, a delightful couple we’ve come to call friends.
Hans: Where are you touring?
Me: Budapest and Italy
Hans: Ah! My aunt was a famous actress in Budapest!
Hans: Maria Sulyok. (exits to get book written in Hungarian about his aunt with pictures of her from film and stage. A famous actress indeed.)
Once in Budapest I happened to mention to the members of the Maladype Theatre that hosted us that my neighbor had an aunt who was a famous actress. Who? I couldn’t quite get the last name right (the piece of paper I’d written it on was back in my suitcase). They looked baffled. Later, I found the slip of paper and this ensued:
Mary: Ah! Her name was Maria Sulyok (pronounced SHOOL-YOK).
Ildiko: (eyes VERY wide) SULYOK?
Mary: I think that’s how it’s pronounced. (shows paper to Ildiko).
Ildiko: SULYOK MARIA? SULYOK? Your neighbor is nephew of SULYOK MARIA?
Mary: (thinking WOW! She must be VERY famous!)
The next day Ildiko told me she had a surprise for me. And on a walk she brought me to an apartment building in the old Jewish section of Budapest across the street from a great jazz club. And there, in gold leaf on marble was this:
Yes, I went to Budapest and found the home of my neighbor’s relative. How cool is that?