stage director

“The faces of authenticity” Dominika Kopeć about Mykwa in Teatr

„Close Strangers” European Theatre Encounters

….A skinhead in Monika Dobrowlańska’s „Mykwa” has something in common with a man belonging to dresiarz subculture from the spectacle made by Wałbrzych Theatre. His ruthlessness and belief in his ideas are not presented in the form of caricature, but they become a kind of obsession, compulsion which comes back constantly. Łukasz Chrzuszcz moves all the time, his body shakes and he keeps walking from one place into another. The manner he uses his body on stage designates the character, awakes a feeling of uncertainty and distrust towards him. Ascetic stage design built merely of horizontally lifted plane makes it possible to notice every detail. By no means is the space cluttered, no sign of useless illusoriness. The spectacle is transparent in its form and expression, ascetic. Every single gesture carries a meaning. Let us give an example of the plane lined with sponge which makes the actor walk on it as if through marsh.

Piotr Rawicki’s drama refers to Jedwabne masacre. As far as the text is concerned we deal with a story told in a realistic manner. The spectacle direction breaks this realism. The story about an old man visited after his death by the murdered people – the consequence of his countless sins of the past – becomes on the stage a macabre night dream. Actors’ bodies not only represent the characters, they also get blended into the plastic space of the stage like objects, they become a part of cruel vision. The skinhead in his convulsions is almost a movable stage element. The best example of treating an actor like a stage element is the scene when a girl dressed in a white dress, gagged with an apple from the man’s garden tree skips rode in dazzlingly-sharp, fierce light. The scene is the metaphor of rape committed on a 13 year old Jewish girl. Paradoxically, a very sensual scene is more brutal than any naturalistic report could be, as a contemporary spectator has already got used to such naturalistic pictures.

There is no place for any nuance. The director speaks in a decisive tone without any implicitness. She brings the history and national symbols under review in a ruthless manner. The performance begins with a poem going out of the laud speakers: “Who are you? – A small Polish boy. Finally we can hear a solemn choir performance of Rota song During the performance the Russian soldiers will enter the audience to glance straight into the audience’s eyes. Dobrowlańska, in an unusual manner, combines a sharp glance with balanced judgements. In this criticism deprived of chiaroscuro, in avoidance of harmful compromises, the Poznań performance is more like German dialogue, deprived of false discount rate, rather than Polish manner of reasoning.

Dominika Kopeć
Teatr, 7/2009

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