Verdict of the 8th International Theatre Schools Festival ITSelF 2015

Jury of the 8th International Theatre Schools Festival ITSelF 2015 including:


Janusz Głowacki – Chairman

Claudio de Maglio

Stanisław Moisiejev

Robert Więckiewicz

having watched 11 performances in the competition has decided to award the following:

1. Mention in amount of to 2000,00 zloty goes to the team from The Soore University in Tehran for the performance “Slow Sound of Snow” directed by Jaber Ramezani.

2. Mention in amount of to 2000,00 zloty goes to the team from The Leoš Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno for the performance “The Absolute Happiness of a Fly or Salvador Dali’s Latest Mystification” directed by Oxana Smilkova.

3. Award founded by Polish Filmmakers Association in the form of professional photo session goes to:

Alicja Juszkiewicz – student from The Leon Schiller National Film School in Łódź, for the role of Mieze in performance „The Stone” directed by Grzegorz Wiśniewski,

Eryk Kulm – student from The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw, for the role of Woland in performance „The Master and Margarita” directed by Waldemar Raźniak.

4. Best Supporting Role Award in amount of to 4000,00 zloty goes to:

Mery Delgado – student from The Academy of Dramatic Arts in Seville, for the role of Mother in performance „The Freak Child” directed by team,

Barbara Wypych – student from The Leon Schiller National Film School in Łódź, for the role of Witha in performance „The Stone” directed by Grzegorz Wiśniewski.

5. Best Leading Role Award in amount of to 4000,00 zloty goes to:

Marie-Louise Stockinger – student from The Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, for the role of Lulu in performance „Lulu” directed by David Stöhr,

Mike Turner – student The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, for the role of Matt in performance „Red Light Winter” directed by Laura Savia.

6. Special Award in amount of to 4000,00 zloty founded by The President of the Management Board of Polish Television goes to team from The Academy of Dramatic Arts in Seville for the performance „The Freak Child” directed by team.

7. Grand Prix in amount of to 10000,00 zloty goes to the team from The Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna for the performance „Lulu” directed by David Stöhr.

8. Audience Award goes to David Espinosa for the performance „My Great Work”.


Anna Bajek: great work / miniature world

About Moje opus magnum El Local / CAET created in cooperation with Generalitat de Catalunya in Spain

fot. Bartek Warzecha

fot. Bartek Warzecha

It is indeed ironic that David Espinosa’s ‘great work’ could fit in a suitcase over which the creator and the animator of the show addresses the audience in a form of a short introduction. To him, big productions meant big problems because of their budget, so he created a compact, independent spectacle which is flexible enough to adopt itself to new circumstances without any additional costs. It could be described as ‘great work / miniature world’, because the roles in this Theatre of Form or some type of a Theatre of Puppets are played by miniature figurines the size of a match (some of them are even smaller), made in 1-to-87 cm scale. If their size was real, they would fill a whole football pitch instead of a suitcase. Before we enter the room the director asks us to imagine that we’re not in a tight space but in a theatre that knowns no limits in terms of realization. It will not be a difficult task considering the viewers watch Espinosa’s show on an incredible level of concentration which results from the proximity of an additionally magnified world.

The revision of perception occurs when the viewers receive miniature binoculars to observe even more details of the figurines. The magnified frame is so limited that one has to choose where to look for all the details and elements. Giving a closer look to one character set after the other is very exciting, as each time one is likely to notice a new detail. Espinosa needs only a huge desk, two speakers, recorder sounds and music, a tablet on which he plays pre-recorded movie clips with the figurines and, of course, the figurines themselves which he sets on a self-adhesive mat. The show is constituted by several related images in which the layout of the ‘actors’ is strictly linked to the musical background. From the creator it requires not only an unusual sense of his fabric but also impressive manual skills. The show is filled with instances of playing with the form and juxtapositions which bring a smile to a viewer’s face, like dropping life-size rice on the newlyweds which covers them almost completely. This is how another image is created – now the couple is sitting on an island during their Honeymoon and we can see palms growing behind their heads. Other elements also appear on stage – a life-size Cola can with ‘love’ written over it, a helicopter with its airscrew driven by the air from a hair-drier, and instead of a soldier aiming at Barack Obama with an actual rifle we see Espinosa pointing a huge toy gun.

However, the artist is doing something more than just creating creative scenes which are only attractive from the visual point of few. His ‘toy’ world surprises with a few provocative cracks – everyone seems to be having a great time at the playground when, suddenly, after adding a few figurines, the scene starts to induce anxiety as it changes its meaning. Santa Claus falls of the ladder next to babies, a car turned upside down and a doctor land next to a man who in my opinion was only sunbathing, weights fall on the gymnasts and a little tree in the pot turns into a little cemetery. Watching the film we see a man in a blue suit falling under a toy train in front of his family or drowning in a washbasin. The creator is building up tension by starting the construction of figurine constellation with less meaningful elements. Then he proceeds to climactic points. The mood of the play is set with simple devices which are surprisingly accurate. Red, flashing lights take the play to the strip club or remind viewers of a police car. Different pieces of furniture are put on the tambourine and then couples performing sexual acts appear right on top of them. Hammering a nail in the tambourine not only imitates a suggestive, rhythmical sound, it’s also responsible for the figurines’ comical vibrations.

The recording features even the aforementioned football pitch, but it’s in fact an oval bathroom mat with white lines drawn over them and goals made with matches. The professional edition makes the shots resemble action replays seen on TV. The floor appears in the frame only from time to time.

In the last scenes the figurines (about 300 of them) which are animated only for a few moments resemble a common dump (including various characters from different social groups and historical eras, like the Pope, the KKK members and police harassing a black-skinned king praying by the Jesus’s cradle). In a moment all of this will be pushed away by a bulldozer. It’s filthy, corrupted, sometimes it reminds us of everyday life on the streets. I really recommend watching the whole play through the binoculars, especially the last image of a burning candle next to a figurine in a blue suit, which earlier tried committing a suicide a few times. I recommend it even you find it attractive only on the visual level.

Anna Bajek

Idea: David Espinosa

Wykonanie: David Espinosa, Cia Hekinah Degul

Scenografia: David Espinosa

Muzyka: Santos Martines, David Espinosa

Współpraca: Africa Navarro

Premiera: 21.03.2012

Agata Tomasiewicz: The only certain thing

A report on a spectacle called Circum Mortis [sic!] performed by Arts and Crafts Academy LUCA from Leuven

fot. Bartek Warzecha

fot. Bartek Warzecha

A solid table, a plank set in an upright position, a bucket, a platform with stairs. This immediately reminds you of the notion of ‘the lowest-rank reality’ coined by Tadeusz Kantor. I have no idea how strong is the stigma of ‘reality’ the items on stage are marked with, what is their history or were the apparent signs of fatigue actually fabricated. One thing is beyond any doubt – items get attached to different associations; I look at them and I see desktop from Umarła klasa in bad condition, the tables from Nigdy tu już nie powrócę scattered all over the place and even the decorations in which Powrót Odysa was performed, which I know from the photos. However, the crucial association is Wielopole, Wielopole – some of the images from the spectacle from Belgium are more like quotations from Teatr Cricot 2’s masterpiece. We see a table covered with a cloth, a scene of crucifixion or a silhouette of a woman wearing a long dress who bears a striking resemblance to Helena Berger, a bride played by Teresa Wełminska.

There is a reason why this text starts with an item list. Circum Mortis [sic!] introduces a very rare phenomenon, especially in case of Polish theatre. Well, the item has a voice and along with a functioning actor’s body it narrates the story in a way. We see dipping dirty rags in a bucket full of water, washing actress’s tender body which almost turns into passionate whipping. A table that was covered for dinner becomes a dissecting table or a birthplace. The aforementioned crucifixion scene refers to dipping a woman’s hair and sticking them to the plank. We see an almost naked, yet smudged with both paint and water, body of the culprit which is convulsing while giving birth. In the Belgians’ interpretation the ‘poor room of imagination’ gets filled with various images, some of which were taken from Christian iconography.

The actor’s body is not an autonomous device any more – the only time when it expresses something is through its connection to an item. In this case, much like in case of Kantor’s theatre, it is even arguable whether the play even includes actual characters. However, certain differences are also visible. The Circum Mortis [sic!] character is not categorized or defined by any dominant traits. Therefore, hardly anything connects it to the process of reconstruction from the films of memory, which is very characteristic for The Theatre of Death. The characters which constitute ‘The circle of death’ have some notion of ambiguity and indeterminacy about them along with Proteus-esque ability to transform theirselves. Often the actors constitute a collective body which then scatters into various constellations. One time it resembles a wild of vortex of screaming people, another time it’s couples dancing apathetically to Elvis Presley’s Farther Along. There are also certain moments where actors freeze, thus creating a tableaux vivants of sorts.

In this spectacle the materiality dominates over semantics. It would be difficult to label the story as cohesive. Tracing the connection between words and their meaning may prove futile, so one should let himself get carried away by the image. The non-linearity as well as the associativity render joining all the threads impossible. I would go as far as to say that the performance has no plot basis whatsoever. Every scene that happens on the stage equals a new field of associations. We could argue if the scene by the covered table has biblical connotations and what is the meaning of covering bodies with white dye. However, some images are clear enough; the final scene is the most characteristic – a dead man is wrapped with a shroud which served as a tablecloth a while ago. Characters leave the stage, one of the actresses walks out a… suit (an actor was disguised in a way not to show his head which leaves quite a ghastly impression). This very moment reminded me of Szymborska’s words ‘The crown outlived the head / The palm lost with the glove / The right shoe won over the leg”. The body struggles with its own destiny to eventually fall apart. The item is silent yet triumphant.

As the spectacle starts, what a viewer might find irritating is the lack of a screen with a translations. What the actors say, even if they were random word clusters, could help the viewer to clarify an interpretations. Eventually one gets the impression that the spectacle wasn’t translated on purpose. At some point an actress stands right in front of the stage, just by the front row. She begins to pronounce words in a foreign language, saying them louder and louder. The rising level of her tutor’s irritation is almost tangible, which adds to the comicality of the scene. The audience is roaring with laughter. Is supralingual communication even possible? Is the theatre that is stripped of its verbal layer still able to send clear messages, especially in the presence of international audience? Maybe it’s my over-interpretation, but I do believe that was the play creators’ original idea. Regardless of the lingual obscurity, various images stockpiled in multiple layers and formal acrobatics, one thing remains completely unambiguous – the scene of passage, the ritual of dressing a dead man for the funeral. This reflection might come off as trivial, but the most trivial ones are usually the most true – the only thing that is certain is death.

Agata Tomasiewicz

wg Tadeusza Kantora

Circum Mortis [sic!]

Reżyseria: Johan Knuts

Dramaturgia: Barbara Vandendriessche

Choreografia: Luc Devreese

Obsada: Laurian Callebaut, Heleen Desmet, Emma De Saedeleir, Amber Janssens, Anke Jochems, Tine Roggeman, Matthias Van de Brul, Lynn Van den Broeck, Sander Van den Broeck, Janna Van Mingeroet, Charlotte Verlinden, Maxime Waladi, Charlotte Wellens

Justyna Gołęcka: To fascinate and to affect

An interview between Justyna Gołęcka and Łukasz Lewandowski, a pedagogue from The Puppetry Department of Theatre Academy in Białystok

photo Bartek Warzecha

photo Bartek Warzecha

Justyna Gołęcka: This year’s ITSelF features a performance by students of The Puppetry Department from Białystok. What spectacle will they perform?

Łukasz Lewandowski: It’s called In Treatment, but I don’t want to reveal anything about it. This performance was created by the 3rd year students during workshop. The spectacle was based on the American TV show by HBO which was our inspiration. The show starred Gabriel Byrne as the lead.

How did you come up with the idea to adapt a TV show to a theatre stage?

The idea was created based on what we do. Sometimes we should reflect on what fascinates us and why or what strongly affects us. This is the main idea behind the theatre – to fascinate and to affect. Why when we as viewers stop perceive actors as performers we begin to identify with their histories, feel emotional, forget that it’s all just pretend? Why are we fascinated with various TV shows? Speaking about acting, the giant step forward taken by the Americans and the Anglo-Saxons in general is of great importance. Apart from the fact that stories are very good from the narrative point of view and the directors and scriptwriters are doing an impressive job, the creative part that is up to actors is becoming more and more incredible. I must say that I do have the impression that something is escaping our attention.

How did your students respond to such an original idea? Was it yours or theirs?

I think my job as well as the idea behind this department is to create a situation in which an actor can work in non-formal environment. This kind of material provides an opportunity to look inside yourself, to understand the inner self in a more wholesome and conscious way and then to try to grasp what does it mean to work as an actor today. My students understand this perfectly.

Who wrote the script that will be presented at the stage?

The script is resulted from months of experiments we conducted together. In the show the drama is arranged mathematically, divided into days of the week. We also adopted the same pattern.

How long did it take to prepare In treatment?

Each of the students worked individually. Putting all those visions together and deciding that we can present some kind of a spectacle to the viewers did not take long. However, getting to those visions was intensive work which lasted few months. In some cases it took as long as eight months, in others it took less. It was an individual matter.

To what extend did the actors suggest certain solutions regarding building their characters and to what extended was it imposed on them?

I can’t reveal this, so I would like to invite you for the performance. Like I said, it’s not my show and it’s also not the kind of aesthetics in which my opinion matters the most. This also relates to how I understand my job as a pedagogue. My task is only to provide these young people with the opportunity to express their feelings, the way they perceive the world and how they understand it.

The spectacle’s scenography is not very complicated. Does this mean a bigger challenge to the acting students?

Yes, exactly. The Puppetry Department is coming to Warsaw, but there will be no puppets in this spectacle.

So is there a universal pattern of creating a spectacle for actors dealing with puppetry?

I don’t know any patterns. This is mostly about the people. In treatment is not my spectacle, it’s not about me nor the way I perceive the theatre. It’s a spectacle of a few young people whose task is to perform in the best way possible. They are supposed to show their skills and I think that the best way to do it is when you actually have something to say.

How did the audience respond to this spectacle?

We performed twice in Teatr Studio in Warsaw, each time with a huge superfluity of viewers and, of course, in Białystok. It’s usually the families that relate to the message of the play. Of course each therapy session shows that we are actually a bottomless pit and our family relations are a basis for all that happened, happens and will happen to us in the future. Since the spectacle is very fresh we still haven’t performed it anywhere apart from those two cities. The students worked very hard on two graduation projects, the last few days were very intense. An invitation to this Festival is a sort of a price for them.
Thank you for the interview.

Mateusz Kaliński: A dramatic body

A report from the Body awareness in actor’s education conference


On Sunday at 3 PM in Jan Kreczmar room in Theatre Academy we held a scientific conference on the analysis of different approaches to body awareness based on the experience of dancers and choreographers (Leszek Bzdyl, Iwona Pasińska), as wells as actors (Cezary Kosiński) or theatrologists (Grzegorz Ziółkowski). The meeting was moderated by Tomasz Plata. The topic of the conference is related to opening a new field of study at the Theatre Academy – musical and stage acting, the curriculum of which will mostly rely on classes on body awareness.

One could feel the changes happening for quite some time now. These changes answer the following question – what is the body of the Polish Dramatic Theatre? This evolution can be explained as the expansion of a dramatic actor’s experience field or even the transition of it. The idea of basic stage movement has been present in the theatre forever, but at some point a choreographer appeared. What is important is the analysis of a body and how organically it moves. The way how body awareness is perceived by dancers is crucial for dramatic actors who perform in spectacles without saying a word thus becoming gaining new experiences and creating new fields for experiments.

The notion of implementing Grotowski’s method as an academic class raised a lot of controversy. As professor Grzegorz Ziółkowski explained, in a way it would be an analysis of just a small part of the whole which is constituted by modern theatrical and non-theatrical reality. In this case doing a physical training for its own sake would be a farce rather than a platform for further study. Even if we disregard this aspect, the education through this method is almost impossible because of the small number of qualified teachers which could lead to the emergence of frauds ‘selling’ the parody of this technique.

Acting methods evolve as we speak – various techniques merge basing on the experience and knowledge behind other concepts of using a body as a tool and working with it. Transformation is mandatory for every field of art. We must always look for new solutions and answers, pose new questions. We should be also careful when referring to the past.

Mateusz Kaliński

Agata M. Skrzypek: 3…2…1…!

A report from the inauguration of the 8th International Theatre Schools Festival ITSelF in Aleksander Zelwerowicz Theatre Academy in Warsaw

photo Bartek Warzecha

photo Bartek Warzecha

The inauguration of the 8th edition of the Festival started with a presentation of playing the vibraphone with eight sticks. What followed was the speech by the rector of Theatre Academy, professor Andrzej Strzelecki, who welcomed the guests from other countries, the Honorary Committee and the Jury consisting of Janusz Głowacki, Claudio de Maglio, Stanisław Moisiejew and Robert Więckiewicz. As usual, the statue of a life-size white horse was placed right in the middle of the stage. The ITSelF trailer directed by Maciej Buchwald featuring students from the Acting Department of Theatre Academy was projected in the background. What impressed the audience the most was the drum show which accompanied the multimedia presentation of the schools which qualified to participate in the Festival.

This year the competition will be held between 11 graduation spectacles from theatre schools from all around the world – the Czech Republic, Germany, USA, Iran, Belgium, Spain, Austria, Lithuania and Poland. Five of them will be featured in the OFF category. Moreover, two scientific conferences will be held, both of which are devoted to the body awareness in the process of actor education and the legacy of Jerzy Grotowski in acting practice along with a 4 hour long workshop by the name of The implementation of Lee Strasberg’s method. During the six days of the Festival the viewers can vote for the spectacle of their choice. The most popular one will be awarded the Audience Award. A drawing will be held to reveal a viewer who will also receive a special award.

The second part of the inauguration featured a workshop spectacle performed by students of the 2nd year of Acting Department called Parawan (The Screen) directed by Andrzej Strzelecki which incorporates musical pieces and vocal performances prepared by Marek Stefankiewicz. This tragicomic play involves a lot of gentle songs as well as ironic (especially considering the international audience) play with national stereotypes and a particularly bitter analysis of the situation of Polish intelligentsia after the political transformation of the late 1980s. The contrast between the musical-like aesthetics and the harsh message of the play was amplified by the rhyming form of the text. It is difficult to assess which element of the play was the most eye-catching – its overall visual attractiveness, the dynamics and the energy, or the deep message which one could consider as a bit of a threat… Therefore, the choice of making Parawan as the opening spectacle of the Festival is a bit intriguing. Maybe the idea was to support the rector’s speech about how the path of an artist can be bumpy and full of problems?

Surely this warning is not to be forgotten. However, the next five days should resolve around meeting other people along with exchanging ideas and experiences. Most of all, the Festival is a chance for an escape from everyday routine as well as the occasion to celebrate in the presence of unique people. This is why we wish everyone a lot of unforgettable moments during the 8th International Theatre Schools Festival ITSelF!

Agata M. Skrzypek

Barbara Michalczyk: Is it possible to understand penguins?

About Potworek (The Little Monster), the spectacle of The Academy of Dramatic Arts in Seville performed during 8th International Theatre Schools Festival ITSelF

photo Marta Ankiersztejn

photo Marta Ankiersztejn

The world created by the authors of the play is a mixture between grotesque , un-reality and absurd. The structure of the spectacle consists of five parts, which over time tell the story of the eccentric family. We see the Mother (Mery Delgado), an ex-ballet dancer who can’t stop dancing even when she is at home. Her father (Carlos Agudo) is leaving for the war. He always appears on stage with his inseparable crane, a sign of his disability, and gets involved in the life of the family as often as he can. We also see the eponymous Little Monster (Ivan Fernandez) – a deformed man who behaves like a child.

However, the play does not focus on the characters’ psychology even though it reveals pathological relations between the family members. In fact, in that case all paths lead to the Mother. She is the one who rejects her ugly and deformed child. She values beauty so often she calls her child fat. And she does that with such disgust! Maybe she tries to teach him to dance, but the lightness of her move meets the harshness of his so she over time resigns. Moreover, she can’t just be happy with her husband. At first she greets him by throwing tomatoes at him which were cast pretty strongly at the audience splashing all over the theatre. She pushes away her husband and wishes him out of her life. Then, when he comes back from the tar, The Mother starts groping him passionately, which provides an excuse for a show of gymnastics and one has to admit that Mery Delgado is incredibly flexible. The sudden estrangement between the two leads to the simplest conclusion possible – ‘my husband has to die!’ which is revealed to the audience directly and immediately, without any additional philosophical deliberations. Her clothes remain the same all the time – she is wearing a dress of an unidentifiable color, her make up is grotesque as it goes beyond the natural shape of her eyes and her eyebrows and her hair is curly, which is still very popular among old ladies. In the last scenes, when she tries to emancipate herself and live a little, she performs a striptease to reveal her lingerie – obviously oversized, distorting the truth about her body.

The Father staggers around the room from the beginning of the spectacle. In the prologue he is sneaking around the stage, almost invisible. Then he leaves for the war and he comes back only for the duration of furloughs. When he enters the room wearing the uniform, he stumbles over the audience, rests on random people and tries to get up with their help. His body bends unnaturally, which reflects the overall condition of his character. The Father is wearing a uniform, which is far from new, along with a cadaverous make up emphasized even more by coloring one of his front teeth. Following his wife’s will he dramatically lets her poison him and then, right in front of the eyes of shocked viewers, he vomits on the floor disregarding the fact that his puke splashes all over them. That would be quite a spectacular end of the father despite the fact that later on he decides to come back from the dead to get revenge for his murder.

What is the role of the son in all of this? First, let us point out that he is a huge guy with a huge fake stomach and a fake hump. None of these body parts look natural, as well as fake noses worn by the actors – the line between the theatrical tissue and the real skin is clearly visible.

The Man matures right in front of the audience. Time goes by even though the actors look exactly the same. The Man is wearing a childish bodysuit, a shirt and just one sock. His age is changing but his mentality does not. Behind his sad face he is still a five year old who is unaware of his capabilities – with such big hands he could easily strangle his tiny Mother any moment, for which he apologizes on his knees later on. When someone sends over his father’s ashes, he carelessly spills it around as if it was confetti. His relationship with his father is based of childish admiration but the only thing he gets in response is questions about his homework. As I mentioned before, things with his mother things get even more complicated. The Man is a cheerful child, completely unaware of the degeneration around him. He also doesn’t realize that it is against him that the deceive Father in fact tries to get revenge.

J. Kreczmar room has a really small stage which imitated an inhabited space just symbolically. The whole rooms were represented by single items, i.e. the moving chair or the huge metal washtub. In terms of scenography, the most impressive part was the machine producing the lethal foam as the bubbles gracefully floated in the air. One can’t also speak about the theatre of absurd without adequate fumes, so the fog machine was also employed. The lights were in loud and definite colors and the whole play was topped with music – mostly classical or relying on hit records from the 1950s – which was either played from beyond the stage or performed by the actors themselves. One could perceive that some standards of stage skills of student-actors remain the same regardless of the country. Moreover in the background there was a white cloth, on which the titles of particular parts were projected along with translation of the words coming from beyond the stage which seemingly had nothing to do with the play as a whole. The actors were performing in English, sometimes intertwining in with pseudo-Polish, which the audience found amusing. After all this is the kind of play to win over the viewers’ hearts. The most important phrase for this review was also uttered in Polish, which I took the liberty to paraphrase in order to absolve myself in a way – “you won’t understand all of this because he is a penguin”.

Barbara Michalczyk

La Tarara Teatro – Potworek
Spain – The Academy of Dramatic Arts in Seville
Directed: Team
Script: Team
Scenography: José María Paredes
Cast: Mery Delgado (Mother), Carlos Agudo (Father), Ivan Fernandez (Son)

Justyna Gołęcka: Extraordinary waiting

The interview between Justyna Gołęcka and Waldemar Raźniak, the Prorector of The Acting Department of Theatre Academy in Warsaw


photo mat. festiwalu

Justyna Gołęcka: The 8th International Theatre Schools Festival in Warsaw is starting in a couple hours. What can we expect of the following days?

Waldemar Raźniak: Personally I believe that this Festival edition will be much more diverse than before, mainly because we are dealing with theatre schools coming from the outside of the European culture. I hope that as a result some of the Festival audience will be able to get acquainted with a broader theatre spectrum. For those students who take part in this event the experience is even more interesting, since it will be the first time in their lives when they come across certain theatrical traditions, i.e. the Iranian one.

Is there any event you’re looking forward to in particular?

Surely I am equally excited and anxious to see every contestant’s presentation, but I do look forward to two positions in particular. I would say that both of those events are indirectly related to the Festival. The first one is the workshop by Anna Strasberg on the implementation of Lee Strasberg’s method. The variations of acting method created and popularized by Lee Strasberg in Actors Studio are widely used in our country, but hardly ever a young actor has the opportunity to learn about the method at the source. I think that meeting Lee Strasberg’s wife under such circumstances may indeed by a mind-changing experience. I know a lot of people who moved to New York or Los Angeles because they had attended such workshops or simply learned that such a school and method exist. The second event I’m looking forward to is the two scientific conferences we are holding. The first one is about body awareness while the other resolves around Jerzy Grotowski’s legacy or the notion of its practical application. What makes this idea more important is the fact that the first conference is related to the new field of study that will soon be available to our students – Musical Theatre Acting. Body awareness as an element of acting is very often recognized intuitively or considered a part of acting talent. Until now we have been giving classes on it and in some schools it is taught as a separate subject, because there are certain techniques that allow to unleash and shape this kind awareness. Considering the new field of study this matter seems crucial. The same applies to Grotowski, because his organic way of working with actors was particularly important. Our idea is to deliberate if there is a way to fit this training and Grotowski’s way of thinking into an academic structure. I look forward to those two conferences in particular and I do hope that they turn out fruitful.

You have directed two spectatcles, including Mistrz i Małgorzata (The Master and Margarita), the graduation spectacle of the 4th year of Acting Department that will take part in the Festival’s competition. How did Collegium Nobillium audience respond to this play?

The spectacle Mistrz i Małgorzata met with very enthusiastic reception. Each time we performed the room was full and I also heard that tickets for this spectacle were bought in advance, sometimes even two months before the actual performance. Our local audience from Warsaw responded to it very well. Speaking about the Festival audience I am very curious about their reaction, especially considering viewers from other countries. We should consider this opportunity as some kind of a test.

What caught your attention in the history of Mistrz…?

I found that novel curious because of my Russian origin. Studying directing in Moscow I found a certain book about Bulhakov and Mistrz i Małgorzata which was never published in Polish. It was a collection of analytic texts about this novel. It was filled with numerous hypothesis including the one about whose alter ego could Małgorzata be. And that’s what I found interesting.

The spectacle description includes a sentence A spectacle based on Mikhail Bulhakov’s novel is a study of a struggle against a system, not only the totalitarian one. What did you have in mind?

This is another aspect which I also found curious. Bulhakov sent letters to Russian authorities asking them to publish his novel, so he could work and so his work could get published. At the same time his sickness was killing him and he knew that he would die without proper support. Depending on the state and opposing it at the same time – this duality is characteristic for Russian mentality. Thus the problem here is in fact much more complicated than just the way the West perceives Russia and persecuting the homo sovieticus. The cult of the victim – now that’s really Russian.

And how does this relate to the spectacle called Pogorzelisko? Are there any common grounds between the two plays?

Pogorzelisko is also about a specific kind of trauma and I’m not referring to the reality of Liban which Wajdi Mouawad described in his drama. I am talking about the trauma that was intermediated by refugees and immigrants, more and more of which settle in Europe every day. They come to us overwhelmed by their pain and tragedies that we as Europeans haven’t suffered in a long time. The Polish refer to it in a specific way, because this trauma is related to the past, the Second World War, the Holocaust. The spectacle was created at the moment of a very difficult situation between Russia and Ukraine, at the very moment when this trauma was particularly tangible. And then we came across Mouawad’s text, which deals with the nightmares of war in a very Western, brutal, almost movie-like way. Along with the actors we asked ourselves if the words from Władysław Broniewski’s Bagnet na broń are still relevant and if today we would act according to this poem while expressing our patriotic feelings. Many of them said ‘yes’. Paradoxically, the situation in the East might be what those two spectacles have in common.

Thank you for the interview.