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Open Air Theatre - Guide to a Thrilling Summer

Anna Legierska
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Festiwal Malta
2013 Malta Festival, photo: festival press materials

Exotic African rhythms, Israeli dance, martial arts from Sumatra and loud shows from Latin America - these are some of the items on the list of performances that will take place on both open air and traditional stages across Poland this summer. An array of festivals brings together cutting edge street theatre, dance, pantomime, cabaret and stand-up comedy, as well as magicians and circus acrobats. Check out our list for tips on how spend a theatrically thrilling summer vacation with art in Poland.

Congo punk and improv from Mozambique at the Gdańsk Dance Festival.

"Hauschka", Edivaldo Ernesto, fot. Robin Thomson, dzięki uprzejmości organizatorów
Hauschka, Edivaldo Ernesto, photo: Robin Thomson, courtesy of the organisers

The SoundSpaces Dance Festival in Gdańsk brings together shows buzzing with energetic dance and refined music, performed by exceptional artists from across the globe. The pianist and composer Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka comes together with a dancer from Mozambique – who is known for his appearances with the Sasha Waltz&Gests company – to reveal the power of music and dance improvisation. There will also be concerts by guitarists from Congo, as well as dancers from Cuba, Japan, Venezuela and Poland. The organisers of the festival declare:

We are searching for new movements, new sounds, and new spaces in art, and one of the effects of this search is our Soul Project / PL piece, which has been created in collaboration with the Venezuelan choreographer David Zambrano and 10 Polish dancers from the Pracownia Fizyczna i Łódź, as well as the EST ensemble and Hurtownia Ruchu from Kraków.


"Intention", fot. Alexander Schneider
Intention, photo: Alexander Schneider, festival's press materials

The Intention is also a noteworthy show at the festival, as it is the very first performance of the NeonDance company in Poland. Their piece is inspired by Adolfo Bioy Casares’ Morel’s Invention, with film projections and music by Nils Frahm and Anne Müller. The festival’s events will also include book launches, contests, and meetings with artists and curators.

The Gdańsk SoundSpaceS Dance Festival is on from the 4th until the 15th of June. 

A mosaic of mirrors and a jeans’ gallery in the Łódź of Four Cultures

It is one of the few such festivals in Poland, as it aims at animating derelict venues of national heritage with art. Łódź of Four Cultures provides a unique occasion for peeking into the courtyards by Piotrowska street in the company of prominent directors. During last year’s edition of the event, one of these courtyards was animated by Krzysztof Garbaczewski, the young artist and a recipient of the prestigious Polityka weekly’s "Passport" award, as well as the legendary avant-garde theatre group, Teatr Ósmego Dnia. The performances of last year’s edition are going to be screened in the outdoors, while new productions inspired by the city’s unique history will also be created. Janusz Opryński is to stage a story about the lives of people who live in a house by Wschodnia street, a place where a legend of Polish literature, Władysław Reymont, spent time preparing his novel Ziemia Obiecana (The Promised Land). The other staging is one prepared by Mariusz Grzegorzek about the courtyard by 29 Rewolucji street.

The Nowy Teatr from Poznań is also a guest at the festival, where they will perform their piece titled Jeżyce. The event is also visited by a special group from Berlin, the RambaZamba, one of the most significant names of the Berlin theatre scene, who invites mentally disabled people to join in their performances.

The festival in Łódź will be inaugurated with the opening of Joanna Rajkowska’s installation, Pasaż Róży (The Passage of Róża), and The Sounds of Łódź, a concert by the prominent electronic music artist Matthew Herbert from the UK. His piece draws inspiration from the soundscape of the city, with material recorded by the inhabitants of Łódź. 

Rajkowska’s installation is a mosaic made of mirrors which is going to cover up the walls of the entire courtyard, bringing light into the old venue. The work of art is bound to constitute a new meeting place in the city. Rajkowska dedicates this piece to her daughter, who suffers from an illness of the retina. The image of the surroundings in the installation is Rajkowska’s vision of what the world looks like through the eyes of her child. 

The organisers of the festival also invite audiences to a concert by Yuri Andrukhovych and Karbido, the fruit of collaboration between Ukrainian and Polish artists, based on the work of Bruno Schulz

The 2014 Łódź Czterech Kultur Festival takes place from the 6th till the 15th of June 


A Latino Malta

Che Guevara, soccer, the carnival, salsa and tango, VS violence, poverty and exclusion. What is Latin America really like? More than a thousand artists and activists from across the world are going to search for an answer as part of the Malta festival in Poznań. Among the guests of what is one of Poland’s oldest theatre festivals is the acclaimed Belgian choreographer Anna Teresa de Keersmaecker, and the founder of the legendary Blur Damon Albarn company. The three weeks of the festival are going to be filled with dance and theatre performances, performance art pieces, concerts, film screenings, exhibitions and workshops for both children and adults, which will take place across various venues in Poznań.

There will be a total of more than 300 events, united under the theme: Latin America: The Inhabitants. The Malta Generator, a place for games and play, also returns to the city’s Wolności square, with numerous activities on offer. There will be zumba and badminton, boules, and lessons in latino dance. There will be urban gardening sessions, as well as a common sleepover. The performer Magdalena Starska leads an action titled Koc na noc (A Blanket for the Night), in which everyone is invited to sleep at Wolności square. There will also be the relaxing sessions of SilentDisco, and an array of performances from the local dance hub, the Stary Browar. Joanna Leśnierowska prepares a piece for the 10th anniversary of the Browar. The stand-up improv group Klancyk from Warsaw are also guests of the festival.

All this is on in Poznań from the 9th until the 29th of June, 2014 

Tania Solomonoff, "Madera", fot. materiały prasowe
Tania Solomonoff, "Madera", photo: press release


Listen to theatre in Sopot!

"Live" theatre performances, meetings with celebrities and artists, workshops, exhibitions, concerts and recitals – all this takes place in the coastal city that is Poland’s most popular resort destination. For years now, Sopot has been home to two theatres, and hosted the Dwa Teatry reviews of productions of two institutions: The Theatre of Polish Televisiona and the Theatre of the Polish Radio. 

The juries will select television theatre productions and radio shows, granting the Grand Prix for best performance and individual prizes in many professional categories. Since 2006, the prestigious Grand Prix of the Dwa Teatry Festival is also presented for acting merit in both theatres. Past recipients of the award are: Gustaw Holoubek, Danuta Szaflarska, Wiesław Michnikowski, Piotr Fronczewski, Janusz Gajos, Jerzy Trela, Anna Seniuk i Jerzy Stuhr, Anna Polony and Ignacy Gogolewski.

The admission to all events of the festival is free.

The Dwa Teatry festival in Sopot takes place from the 14th until the 16th of Juner, 2014

Taneczne Zawirowania

podpis: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company – If At All, fot. Uri Nevo, materiały prasowe
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company – If At All, fot. Uri Nevo, press materials

The best dance companies from Israel, the United States, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, France, Sweden, and Poland come to the 10th edition of Zawirowania (a name translatable as Twists and Turns) in Warsaw. The jubilee edition of the event includes world premieres, international coproductions and workshops with masters of contemporary dance. 

The legendary Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company from Isreal is one of the guests, as well as the Spanish choreographer Daniel Abreu.

The Zawirowania organisers, who have also prepared a special performance for the event, Out in the line up, thus invite the audience:

This year’s festival is first and foremost a big celebration, a celebration of a decade of an initiative that brings together dance theatres from across the world, permitting the building of a network of numerous contacts, development of artists’ mobility and the popularisation of contemporary dance among the native public. We are whirling on the dancefloor and on the stage. We talk, we meet, and we dance. We also invite you to share this event with us. 

The international festival of dance theatres, Zawirowania, is launched at the Stara Prochownia, Teatr Studio and Teatr Wielki in Warsaw on the 24th of June

Street theatre: wandering troupes, circus, and pantomime

Festiwal Sztuka Ulicy, fot. Katarzyna Chmura-Cegiełkowska
Festiwal Sztuka Ulicy (Street Art Festival), photo: Katarzyna Chmura-Cegiełkowska

The main protagonist of this festival is the city. The two long weekends of the summer have Agrykola street and Nowe Miasto square in the picturesque old town turned into a grand stage of open air theatre, dance, circus and pantomime performances. There will be happenings, comedy, experimental projects and interdisciplinary works. There will also be fashion shows, live music, stilt walkers, puppets, fire, light effects, and thousands of spectators. Artists from the Czech Republic, Belgium, Ukraine and Poland perform at what will be the 22nd edition of the festival.

The Teatr Snów from Gdańsk bring the Rudymenty (Rudiments) performance, and the Wrocław-based Klinika Lalek (Doll Clinic) show No Violence Circus. Poznań will be represented by Circus Ferus and their premiere Freak show, as well as the Porywacze Ciał group and true veterans of the open air, the Teatr Biuro Podróży and Teatr Strefa Ciszy. 

The festival is opened with the performance of Teatr Squadra SUA from the Czech Republic and their Bomberos performance.

The 22nd International Festival of Street Art takes place between June 28th-29th and the 4th-6th of July, 2014.


Rituals of India and Indonesia at the Brave Festival

Pieśni Leara, fot. Z.Warzyński
Songs of Lear performance by Song of the Goat Theatre, photo: Z. Warzyński

Featuring ancient snake rituals and traditional dance straight from India, as well as the magic choreography of Voodoo priests, fighter-dancers from West Sumatra and whirling dervishes, every year in July the city of Wrocław becomes a stage for some of the most exotic and mystical performances, as it hosts concerts, rituals and ceremonies from across the globe, frequently featuring marginalised cultures. The founder of Song of the Goat Theatre and the director of the festival, Grzegorz Bral comments:

Brave is festival for a courageous audience, one that wants to confront itself with an Otherness. Nawaho Indians have a beautiful saying "Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there". And I think that that is what the Holy Body is about. There will be people at this festival who will do things that you won’t be able see, but that you will perhaps be able to feel

The Teatr 21 which engages actors with Down syndrome and autism will also perform in Wrocław, as well as the Song of the Goat theatre with their moving Songs of Lear which garnered awards at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Brave Festival takes place in Wrocław between the 4th-17th of July, 2014

An August with Singer and Jewish culture

The Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture has been succeeding in rekindling the memory of a pre-war Jewish Warsze, the one known from the stories and novels of Singer. The organisers invite audiences to take stroll down the old Próżna street, which was once the centre of the now perished world of Polish Jews. Once again, little Jewish cafes start to emerge there, as well as restaurants, shops, and craftsmen’s studios. Circus artist, painters, shoemakers, printmakers, blacksmiths, flowerladies, merchants, and Hasidic Jews will all be taking a stroll between the stalls put up for the occasion. And on the stage, there will be performances from prominent international artists. 

David D'or, the world-famous Israeli counter-tenor will be the star of the 21st edition of the festival as he unravels the miracles of synagogue chanting. D’or will perform at the finale concert on Grzybowski square on the 31st of August. There will also be plenty of interpretations of both old and new Sephardic music, as well as yiddish songs, popular Jewish songs, and folk music. The Robot Planet performance, directed by Shmuel Shohat will also enjoy its premiere. It is a piece based on the Robot Tales by Stanisław Lem. The piece will be performed in Hebrew with a simultaneous translation into Polish.

 Warszawa Singera takes place on the 23rd-31st of August, 2014

Shakespearian Festival in Gdańsk

Na zdjęciu: Dimitrij Schaad (Hamlet), fot. Thomas Aurin
A scene from the staging of "Hamlet" directed by Jan Klata. In the image: Dimitrij Schaad (Hamlet), photo: Thomas Aurin

A strong accent for the finale of the festival summer simultaneously launches the autumn season. It is the Gdańsk Shakespearian festival which will finally take place at the long-awaited, newly-built venue, designed right in the old city centre by Renato Rizzi. Professor Jerzy Limon, has no doubts that his new building will be a work of architectural art, with three stages and a roof that opens up within four minutes. This will allow for performances to be played under the open sky, the way they once used to be staged a few centuries ago. 


Gdański Teatr Szekspirowski, fot. Matteo Piazza, dzięki uprzejmości teatru
The Shakespearian Theatre in Gdańsk, photo: Matteo Piazza, courtesty of the theatre

This year’s edition of the festival is dedicated to Hamlet. Jan Klata is bringing his version of the play which he had realised at the Schauspielhaus in Bochum. It this production he employs Polish experiences of social and cultural revolutions, the beginnings of the political transformation into democracy which he juxtaposes with contemporary popular culture, film, music and the internet. Another Hamlet will be brought to Gdańsk by the Bulgarian National Theatre from Sofia.

The production showings are accompanied by meetings with artists and workshop sessions in the Summer Shakespear Academy. There will also be a SzekspirOFF line, with the newest trends in independent theatre that will confront the achievements of acclaimed artists with experiments by the young.

The Shakespearian Festival in Gdańsk takes place from the 27th of September through to the 5th of October, 2014

source: press release, edited by Anna Legierska

translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser, 27/05/2014

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