Małgorzata Dziewulska. What Goes Unseen
Małgorzata Dziewulska describes the exhibition Late Polishness: Forms of National Identity after 1989 (Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, 31.08-6.03.2017). The author takes a critical view of the exhibition, pointing out the difficulties in reception caused by the layout; the vagueness of political standpoints and lack of problematization of the contexts in which some works were made; and the “language of discourse” that dominates the exhibition, which causes it to be held “hostage by concepts that have access to neither the individual nor the collective sources of the pictures.”


Monika Kwaśniewska. „Being Separate Together”: Staged Participation
Writing on Flag No. 5, initiated by Monika Drożyńska for the Theater Institute in Warsaw program (21-24.09.2017), Monika Kwaśniewska stresses the genre heterogeneity of the project, and examines the differences in the perception of participation, authorship, and hierarchy in the theater, the visual arts, and performance. At the same time, she explores the relationships between art, the institution, and the public, political, and national space. 


Marcin Kościelniak. The Great Human Journey
Prompted by a conversation with the director – Paweł Miśkiewicz – and the actors organized after a November performance of The Supplicants (Stary Theatre in Krakow, premiere: 9.10.2016), Marcin Kościelniak examines the stage rendition of Elfriede Jelinek’s work. He is chiefly interested in the dissonance between the political text and the play, which absolutizes the fate of the refugees.


Zbigniew Majchrowski. The People’s Republic: Performances, or: The Undepicted World
Zbigniew Majchrowski calls his article a “polemic report on reading” The People’s Republic: Performances by Joanna Krakowska (pub. Zbigniew Raszewski Theater Institute, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Art Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw 2016). He takes a critical stance on the plays Krakowska chooses and a cautious approach to the thesis of the modernizing potential of the Social Realist doctrine. He notes that Krakowska mentions only dramatic performances created in big-city repertory theaters, omitting provincial theaters, the alternative movement, and forms of performance other than theater.


Beata Guczalska. Politician or Historiosopher?
Beata Guczalska writes of Jerzy Jarocki’s political theater. Although the director rejected political readings of his plays, the critics’ statements cited in this article prove that they were still sometimes seen as political. Following this lead, the author delves into A Dream About the Sinless, foregrounding the play’s critical appraisals of interwar Poland, which were often overlooked in its reception. She also writes of Listen, Israel! as a play where the autonomous treatment of the Holocaust was rejected by audiences and critics alike. In The History of the People’s Poland according to Mrożek, Guczalska finds a parallel between the communist hit squads and contemporary nationalist groups.


Józef Opalski. Dream of a Harlot
Józef Opalski reports on the several years of work on Jerzy Jarocki’s play Dream of the Sinless Woman (Helena Modrzejewska Stary Theater in Krakow, premiere: 21.01.1979). He shows how the director’s vision took shape, beginning with the choice of Stefan Żeromski’s drama The White Glove, through repeated changes in the play’s title, to giving it the form of a cabaret and fitting it to the space of the Stary Theater. In the author’s memoirs, a key role was played by the censorship and the political atmosphere of the late 1970s.


Małgorzata Dziewulska. Jerzy Jarocki’s Game with Two Cathedrals
Małgorzata Dziewulska writes about Murder in the Cathedral directed by Jerzy Jarocki in 1982. The author explores the interpenetration of fiction and reality, brought about by transferring the events of T. S. Eliot’s drama into a realistic space – St. John’s Cathedral in Warsaw. Drawing reference to Victor Turner’s concept of liminality, she tries to capture the play’s unique sense of time and form. Analyzing the symbolism of the performance, the possible reference to the socio-political situation at the time, and its links to the institution of the Church, Dziewulska investigates the position of the viewer and strategies for engaging his/her perception.


I Make Totems: François Sarhan in Conversation with Monika Pasiecznik
The conversation begins with a question on the ambiguous position François Sarhan occupies in the art world, as a performer, director, musician, and collage artist. The French artist speaks of his work methods, his response to technology, the place of the artist in a capitalist society, and the value of dilettantism in world ruled by specialists.


Łukasz Grabuś, Music as a Composition of Behavior – The Works of François Sarhan in Light of Performative Tools
Writing on the work of François Sarhan, Łukasz Grabuś points out his struggle with musicians’ conventional and hermetic tools. To this artist’s mind, it is only the position of the dilettante that facilitates the exploration of art. Grabuś reads Sarhan’s art projects in terms of the known behavior of Richard Schechner. He makes much of his work at home, recording himself, making collages and animated films and taking notes.


Setting Mini-bombs: Paweł Sakowicz in Conversation with Wojciech Klimczyk
Paweł Sakowicz reconstructs his path from couples’ to contemporary dance, and to working as a choreographer, increasingly collaborating with theater directors. He joins Wojciech Klimczyk in trying to define the role of the choreographer in the dramatic theater, the specifics of his work in institutions, and the nature of the tasks he receives.


In Between: Romuald Krężel in Conversation with Monika Kwaśniewska
Romuald Krężęl analyzes the opportunities for non-institutional work in Poland from the standpoint of an actor/performer: he recalls an association he formed with friends after his studies, his experiences with Komuna// Warszawa, Maat Theater, and Provisorium. As a student of the Giessen theatrical approach, he outlines their education system and juxtaposes it with what he remembers from the Film School in Łódź. He also shows how he makes use of these experiences in his recent projects.


Monika Kwaśniewska. Strategies of Refusal
Kwaśniewska compares the play The Line of Least Resistance (Wojciech Bogusławski Theater in Kalisz, premiere: 6.05.2017, dir. Romuald Krężel), on the subject of labor in the late capitalist era, with the titanic effort of the Stary Theater team in the final month of Jan Klata’s directorial stint, which has been overshadowed by other topics. Surveying strategies of thespian laziness proposed by the creators of the former play, she also analyzes the audience expectations they upset.


Stanisław Godlewski. Theater in the Spirit of Paulo Coelho
Stanisław Godlewski writes on the performative walk Farewell, Olimpia (The Final Inventory)”(Work-in-Progress Stage – Theater Residency Center in Poznań, premiere: 6.10.2017) by Monica Duncan, Romuald Krężel, and Emmilou Rößling. Drawing from his own memories of the Olimpia Cinema – a vacant and desolate space that once pulsed with life – the author wonders how artists’ strategies can affect audience emotions.


Maryla Zielińska, A Manifesto of a Free Artist in a Ruined Country
Maryla Zielińska describes The Trial (Nowy Theater in Warsaw, teatrgaleria Studio in Warsaw, Powszechny Theater in Warsaw, TR Warszawa, Le Quai – Centre Dramatique National w Angers, premiere: 15.11.2017), pointing out the formal strategies new to Lupa’s theater. Examining the direct references to the socio-political situation in Poland, she claims that Lupa “again sets his experience to one side, thinks in terms of theater about the world and simultaneously remains formally adventurous.”


Ewa Guderian-Czaplińska. An Affective Two-Speed Nation
Ewa Guderian-Czaplińska analyzes Tomasz Węgorzewski’s play November: A Hysterical Romance of the Late Eighteenth Century (Fredro Theater in Gnieźno, premiere: 6.05.2017) in terms of the most important themes in Henryk Rzewuski’s novel. She points out the special treatment of the work’s political tangent: “All the main protagonists are torn between two different world views, set by culture and politics: in the novel these are represented by opposing sides […] on the stage […] the conflict is reflected in the individual bodies of the performers.”


Agata Łuksza. “Oh, You Wretch, Who Knows No Such Bliss”
Agata Łuksza interprets Cezary Tomaszewski’s play Cezary Goes to War (Komuna// Warszawa, premiere: 8.07.2017) as a voice of dissent against the model of masculinity inscribed in culture and in politics, based on the fanatical image of the strong heterosexual man. Łuksza juxtaposes the director’s stage tactics with the concept of kitsch formulated by Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.


Kinga Kurysia. Kampf Calque
Kinga Kurysia reviews My Struggle (TR Warsaw, premiere: 06.10.2017), reflecting upon the theatrical strategies for adapting the six-volume autobiographical novel by Karl Ove Knausgård used by the director, Michał Borczuch, and the dramaturg, Tomasz Śpiewak. She also notes the major impact the outstanding actors had on the production, as well as set designer Dorota Nawrot and composer Bartosz Dziadosz. Kurysia analyzes the means of depicting reality in the play, creating a heterogeneous and loosely structured tale.


“A Reality Damnably Similar to Our Own”” Tomasz Śpiewak in Conversation with Katarzyna Niedurny
The subject of Katarzyna Niedurny’s conversation with Tomasz Śpiewak is the six-volume novel My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgård, which served as the basis for a play by TR Warsaw (premiere: 06.10.2017). Śpiewak is the play’s dramaturg and author of the adaptation; he speaks of his experience as a reader and of the workshops for the novel’s enthusiasts organized during the production process. My Struggle is also compared to the play Everything about My Mother.


Dominika Bremer. Revolution Doesn’t Start from Above
Dominika Bremer reviews the play Rasputin byJolanta Janiczak and Wiktor Rubin (Stefan Żeromski Theater in Kielce, premiere: 23.10.2017). She begins by forwarding the thesis that the pair of directors are again striking an analogy between the oppressive structure of liberal democracy and the institution of the public theater. Bremer describes the various characters, trying to name the political standpoints they take and to relate them to contemporary Polish reality.


Marta Bryś. Imagination as Salvation
A review of the play Puppenhaus: The Cure by Magda Fertacz, directed by Jędrzej Piaskowski (TR Warsaw, premiere: 6.04.2017). Departing from the plot of Sean Mathias’ film Bent, the author picks up on the themes of homosexuality, prostitution, and sexual abuse during World War II. Bryś claims that the stories forgotten by “History” that make up Piaskowski’s production emerge from the play with moving empathy.


Jakub Papuczys. The Sports Fan Who Never Was
Reviewing Fans, directed by Michał Buszewicz (Estera Rachel and Ida Kamiński Jewish Theater in Warsaw, premiere:11.09.2017), Papuczys identifies the artists’ chief intention to break down the stereotypical perception of sports fans as a “band of antisemitic nationalists and fascists.” He does claim, however, that the actors’ meeting with the Legia Warszawa fans suggests the superficiality of their conflict and creates a shallow and inauthentic image of the latter.


Beata Kustra. Rescuer or Killer – You Decide
Beata Kustra calls Terror, directed by Robert Talarczyk (Stanisław Wyspiański Śląski Theater in Katowice, Sejm Śląski Hall, premiere: 17.06.2017) a reconstruction of the court hearing described by Ferdinand von Schirach. She suggests that “the course of the trial and the presentation of pieces of evidence enhanced the impression that the audience is a participant in the court hearing.”


Teresa Fazan. Bodies in Time
In a report from the 16th International Body/Mind Festival in Warsaw (11-12.07/29.09-10.10.2017), Teresa Fazan describes four plays: Pastime, Carnation, Museum Piece by Ruth Childs, More by Ramona Nagabczyńska, Water between Three Hands by Rabih Mroué, I’ll Give You Time by Aniela Kokosza, and the Nelken Line project. The author teases out the artists’ main concerns and links them to time, the main theme of this year’s edition of the festival.


Anna R. Burzyńska. The Curses of Decision-making
Anna R. Burzyńska writes on the Impulse Festival in Köln (22.06-01.07.2017). The main theme of this festival curated by Florian Malzacher was making decisions, particularly those that affect the collective, in the context of the present political situation. Burzyńska writes on Boris Nikitin’s Hamlet, zeroing in on the problematic figure of the main protagonist and the play on truth and lies, fiction and illusion. She sees the transmission installation Guilty Landscapes: Episode 1 by Holland’s Dries Verhoeven as the most compelling.


Katarzyna Tórz. Looking Glass Instructions
The author analyzes the play Faust directed by Anne Imhof (57th Art Biennale in Venice, 13.05-26.11.2017). She writes about the choices Imhof gives the public and the emotions accompanying them during the reception, which resonate long thereafter. She also points out the consequences of the viewers being allowed to photograph the play.


Piotr Olkusz, The Artists’ Cave
Piotr Olkusz situates The Night of the Moles (Welcome to Caveland) (Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers, premiere: 6.05.2016) in the context of the early works of Philippe Quesne and changes in how he functioned in the theater world (he has been head of Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers since 2014). He argues that the latest performance is a concept for an “underground culture.”


Magdalena Hasiuk. Drops and Stone
Magdalena Hasiuk writes about The Great Cities under the Moon byOdin Teatret, directed by Eugenio Barba (Jerzy Grotowski Institute in Wrocław, 27-29.09.2017). She sees the changes that have occurred in the play since its premiere in 2003 as an attempt to update the subject matter. She points out the correspondences between the pieces by Bertolt Brecht and contemporary history, as well as the music and dance that bring out the form of the Brechtian cabaret.


Joanna Targoń. The End of Dialogue?
In this report on the 9th International Dialogue Theater Festival (Wrocław, 14-21.10.2017), Joanna Targoń recalls the financial problems of the festival; the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage retracted their support due to the presence of Oliver Frljić’s Curse in the program. Targoń also describes two plays by Alain Platel: En avant, marche! (co-director: Frank Van Laecke) and nicht schlafen, as well as Ivo van Hove’s Kings of War. She sees the festival’s most moving performance, however, as MDLSX by the Motus Group, with Silvia Calderoni in the main role.


Olga Katafiasz. (Post)traumatic Reckonings
Olga Katafiasz covers Teatroteka Fest: New Shots in Theater (Collegium Nobilium in Warsaw, 8-12.02.2017), a project of the Documentary and Feature Film Production House. The festival featured 25 adaptations of contemporary Polish dramaturgy by young directors. Katafiasz sees the adaptations as an extension of Theater Television, which was popular until the 1990s. She takes a close look at the plays, addressing the state of post-Solidarity Poland, women’s biographies, and the legacy of war trauma.


Hope in Contradictions: Lars Eidinger in Conversation with Thomas Irmer
Departing from the Shakespearean roles of Lars Eidinger in Hamlet and Richard III, the discussion centers on the plays directed by Thomas Ostermeier at Schaubühne. The actor speaks of his own experiences playing Shakespearean roles. He also mentions the new translations of the plays by Marius von Mayenburg and his own production of Romeo and Juliet.


Aleksandra Kamińska. The Prince and the Witches
Aleksandra Kamińska reviews the play Hamlet: Dramma per musica (Music and Drama Theater in Ivano-Frankivsk, the 21st Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk, 28.07-6.08.2017). Kamińska points out the fragment from Macbeth that opened the festival, which made “Denmark in the Ivano-Frankivsk play less a prison than a cemetery,” and made vengeance the play’s main theme. He also devotes a lot of attention to the female figures, pondering the rebellious potential in Ophelia’s madness.


Wanda Świątkowska. Shakespeare in Films – in Echoes and Reflections
Wanda Świątkowska reviews the book Mirrors and Echoes: Film Adaptations of the Works of William Shakespeare edited by Olga Katafiasz (pub. Ludwik Solski State Theater School, Krakow 2017). The book is made up of twenty-one analyses of Shakespeare films, conducted by film, theater, and literary critics. Świątkowska appreciates the multiplicity of perspectives and calls attention to the problematization of the medium of film highlighted in the volume.

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