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Andrzej Chyra

Andrzej Chyra in Carte Blanche by Jacek Lusiński, photo: Kino Świat
Andrzej Chyra in Carte Blanche by Jacek Lusiński, photo: Kino Świat

A theatre and film actor born in 1964. He studied at the National Academy of Theatre in Warsaw at the Faculty of Acting and the Faculty of Direction.

He performed in the Rampa Theatre in Warsaw and in the Scene Presentations Theatre (Teatr Scena Prezentacje) in Mart Crowley's Dicreet Charm of Fauns directed by Romuald Szejd (1992). In the Scene Presentations Theatre, he also performed in Francois Sagan's Fainted Horse, Willis Hall's and Keith Waterhouse's Billy the Liar and in the evening of French song entitled Life in Pink. He played in the National Theatre in Wyspianski's Night of November staged in 1997.

Chyra also made some attempts in the field of direction. He staged The History of Alcoholism in Poland (1994) in the Old Powder Magazine Theatre (Teatr Stara Prochownia) and Katarzyna Grochola's To Bite Through the Earthworm at the Upstairs Stage (Scena Na Pietrze) in Poznań. One year later, he staged Harold Pinter's Lover at the Centre of Culture Theatre (Centrum Kultury Teatr) in Grudziądz.

As an actor he became recognisable thanks to a supporting role in Krzysztof Krauze's film The Debt, where he played the demonic Gerard who blackmailed two young businessmen. He also starred in Radoslaw Piwowarski's Order of Emotions, Krauze's Great Things, Juliusz Machulski's Money is Not All and in the low-budget Caulliflowerr by Jacek Borcuch.

Successful in cinema, Chyra returned to the theatre. "I have always treated the theatre as a place where the actor knows his highest fulfilment. I think that when one gets an interesting theatrical proposal it is a professional obligation to accept it.", he explained before the premiere of Gorki's Barbarians, prepared by Agnieszka Glińska in the Contemporary Theatre (Teatr Wspolczesny) in Warsaw. "Andrzej Chyra was excellent in the role of engineer Czerkun, with the 'torch red' hair, as courageous and uncompromising as ruthless", wrote the reviewer of "Rzeczpospolita". Soon, Chyra confirmed his excellent disposition playing Dionysus in Eurypides' Bacchantes staged at the Variety Theatre and in the role of Chrisitan in Thomas Viterberg's and Morgens Rukov's Celebration directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna.

Andrzej Chyra's Dionysus emanates with uncontrolled power, hidden under the grotesque disguise. He is a fitful boy, who asked about the Dionisian rituals, answers in the tone meaning: I know, but I won't tell. But in the beginning of the show there is no boy, there is an animal; Chyra is standing back to the audience and says the prologue gabbling like if he was only about to learn to speak. The magnetic force of Dionysus attracts even his greatest enemy, Penteus (Jacek Poniedziałek). Penteus is ready to put a female disguise and crawl in dirt to make Dionysus show him the secret rituals. Their struggle is like a love embrace. In this play, Chyra is a demon leading to ruin, I would rather not meet him on my way. (Roman Pawłowski, "Gazeta Wyborcza").

Between 2000 and 2007 Chyra worked in Rozmaitości Theatre (which changed its name to TR Warszawa in 2003). Since 2008 he's a member of Warsaw's Nowy Teatr team, led by the director Krzysztof Warlikowski. He starred in most of Warlikowski's plays: as Antonio in Shakespeare's The Tempest (2003), as Chanan/Adam S. in Dybbuk based on texts by Szymon Ansky and Hanna Krall (2003) and as Roy M. Cohn in Tony Kushner's Angels in America (2007). 

Andrzej Chyra plays the cynical lawyer Cohn in an exaggerated, furious way. As if he jumped with every hateful word. Evil boils in him as water in a pot. I haven't seen such an original role for a long time - wrote Łukasz Drewniak ("Dziennik - Kultura" 2007, no. 46).

The actor also played Andrew in Martin Crimp's The Treatment directed by Artur Urbański (2002) and the title protagonist of Giovanni based on Mozart and Moliere, directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna (2006). In Nowy Teatr he worked on almost every production by Warlikowski - (A)pollonia based on Euripides and Hanna Krall (2009), A Streetcar based on Tennesee Williams's play alongside Isabelle Huppert (2010) and Kabaret Warszawski (2013). 

Lately he's worked as opera director: in Gdańsk he realised The Players based on Gogol's libretto and with Shostakovich's music, completed by the Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer (2013). 

Andrzej Chyra's directorial debut was very successful: he made a true musical theatre out of The Players. Chyra created a study on deceit. The plot is extremely compelling. Chyra leads his actors in a very distinct way: they are all different, all characteristic (...) He creates not only relations between cheating cardsharps, creating tension in the play, but also infects us with the absurd and the dark humour of the situation. It is a truly comical opera - wrote Jacek Hawryluk ("Gazeta Wyborcza", 28.01.2013). 

A great challenge for Chyra as an opera director was the mise en scene of Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, written for the stage by Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk and composed by Paweł Mykietyn. He directed the play for the Malta Festival in Poznań in 2015. 

In the following years Chyra played many interesting roles in movies. He was the journalist Borys in Roland Rowiński's Say it, Gabi (2003), the intellectual Dawid, who killed a man who raped his wife in Symmetry by Konrad Niewolski (2003), Mała's father in Andrzej Jakimowski's meditative Squint youerr eyes (2003), "the Kiddo" - a member of the younger generation in a drama about the elderly Tulips by Jacek Borcuch (2004). He also played the psychotic police inspector Marek Jeklewski in Niewolski's Palimpsest (2006). 

He played the virtual love addict Jakub in Witold Adamek's Loneliness on the Net (2006), the electritian Leszek in a Polish and German coproduction Strike directed by Volker Schlondorff (2006) and colonel Jerzy in Andrzej Wajda's Katyń (2007). He created a great leading role as the ruthless bailiff Lucjan Bohme in Feliks Falk's The Collector (2005). 

Andrzej Chyra became known thanks to similiar roles of ambitious thirty year olds, who crave success without taking others into account - wrote Konrad J. Zarębski. - In "The Collector" he's a specialist, representing Polish yuppies, who performs his duties effectively and consistently. Not only his victims - the debtors - are afraid of him, but also other lawyers around him. ("Kino" 02.11.2005).

He was nominated for the Polish Film Award in 2011 for his portrayal of a honourable officer of the Polish navy in Borcuch's All That I Love. In the same year he appeared in one of the most original recent films - Adrian Panek's Daas

Nevermind all of his success, he's still "hungry" and challenges himself with surprising projects. In 2013 he appeared in The Performer - an experimental half-movie, half-performance about Oskar Dawicki and in two shorts by young directors - Piotr Sułkowski's Miruna and Maria Zbąska's - Psubrat

Andrzej Chyra's talent and charisma raise interest not only among Polish filmmakers. In 2011 he played alongside Olga Kurylenko (Bond's girl from Quantum of Solace) in Michale Boganim's Land of Oblivion. The Israeli director, author of the documentary Odessa... Odessa! tells the story of the Chernobyl catastrophe, looking at it from the perspective of people living in the small town of Pripyat. 

A year later he starred in the Swedish trhriller Mörkt vatten directed by Rafael Edholm. In 2011 he starred as a sadistic client of a young prostitute in Małgorzata Szumowska's Elles alongside Juliette Binoche and Joanna Kulig.  

In Szumowska's next film In the Name of... he played one of his best recent roles. It is a story of a homosexual priest, who is relocated to a village in Mazuria district, to open a centre for disturbed youth. At the 2013 Berlinale he was named on of the best actors, and the film about a man coping with his forbidden passions was emotionally seductive. 

Chyra creates a charming portrayal of a priest with many weaknesses, creating a strong relationship with the audience from the very beginning - we read in a review in The Hollywood Reporter.

In 2013 for the role of priest Adam, Chyra received the best actor prize at the Gdynia Film Festival, confirming his position as one of the best actors of his generation. 

He didn't rest on his laurels though, right the opposite: he still works a lot, chosing diverse projects. He plays in features of young directors (Jacek Lusiński's Carte Blanche, 2015 Wojciech Kasperski's The High Frontier, 2016) as well as in films by older masters (Robert Gliński's Stones for the Rampart, 2014, Jerzy Skolimowski's 11 minutes, 2015). Probably his most awaited premiere right now is Tomasz Wasilewski's United States of Love, recognised for Best Screenplay at the Berlin Film Festival. 

Selected awards: 

  • 1999 - Best actor in a supporting role for The Debt at the Gdynia Film Festival
  • 2000 - Polish Eagle Award for best supporting role for The Debt
  • 2oo5 - Best Actor in a Leading role for The Collector at the Gdynia Film Festival
  • 2006 - Polish Eagle Award for best leading role for The Collector
  • 2007 - Aleksander Zelwerowicz Award for best theatre actor for Angels in America
  • 2013 - Best Actor in a Leading role for In the Name of... at the Gdynia Film Festival
  • 2014 - Polish Eagle Award for best leading role for In the Name of... 
  • 2015 - Konrad Swinarski Award for directing the opera The Magic Mountain 


June 2002, updated by NMR, June 2016.
 

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2002/06/04
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Andrzej Chyra

Works

photo by Stefan Okołowicz / Nowy Theatre

Krzysztof Warlikowski's outstanding theatre show based on texts by Aeschylus, Euripides, Hanna Krall, and J. M. Coetzee, in which the director addresses the subjects of unresolved war traumas and questions the purpose of sacrifice. Read more about: (A)pollonia – Krzysztof Warlikowski

The film by Maciej Sobieszczański and Łukasz Ronduda is a story about Oskar Dawicki, one of the most interesting Polish contemporary artists, and an experiment combining cinema, performance, and art exhibition. The film won the THINK: FILM AWARD at Berlinale 2015. Read more about: Performer – Maciej Sobieszczański and Łukasz Ronduda

Strikes wash over Poland and the political situation gets increasingly heated. Janek starts up a rock band and embarks on a touching time of love and music until politics deals a harsh blow. Read more about: All That I Love - Jacek Borcuch

Feature film directed by Andrzej Wajda, 2007, about the thousands of Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD [secret police] in 1940... Read more about: Katyń – Andrzej Wajda

Feature film by Krzysztof Zanussi, 2005. "'Persona Non Grata' is a psychological film with obsessive suspicion as its leading motif (...)" says Krzysztof Zanussi. The strength of this film is in the acting. The screenplay was written with specific people in mind, the main parts are played by Zbigniew Zapasiewicz and Nikita Mikhalkov Read more about: Persona Non Grata - Krzysztof Zanussi

Andrzej Chyra

Articles

Still from Daughter by Tomasz Wolski, photo: Munk Studio

Tomasz Wolski’s Daughter was awarded twice, while Julia Kowalski’s debut film Crache-Coeur also received a prize during the 2016 edition of the Premiers Plans Festival in Angers. Read more about: Polish Films Awarded at Premiers Plans in Angers

Still from 11 Minutes directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, 2015, photo: Robert Jaworski / Kino Świat

The latest film by Jerzy Skolimowski has received the main award at the 9th Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival. Read more about: 11 Minutes Wins Main Prize at 9th Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival

"The Magic Mountain", an opera in II acts. Music: Paweł Mykietyn, libretto: Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk, direction: Andrzej Chyra, stage design: Mirosław Bałka. Premiere: June 26th, 2015, Malta Festival Poznań, photo: Maciej Zakrzewski

"My vision was that of a black cavity, a theatre of shadows, something that takes place inside a cave” – Agnieszka Sural talks to the sculptor, experimental video artist and author of stage design for The Magic Mountain opera Read more about: Mirosław Bałka: a Molehill, a Collapse, and Trenches – An Interview

The Malta Festival Poznań 2015 is coming. For a 25th time the urban space will be transformed into a huge outdoor musical and theatre stage. There will be Thomas Mann, Michael Nyman and important questions about the role of art in the disputed visions of a new world Read more about: New World Order at the Malta Festival 2015

Andrzej Chyra

Events

11jan'12
26jan'12

Lincoln Center hosts the New York Jewish Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals dedicated to topics relevant to Jewish heritage and contemporary life, presenting several Polish productions and co-productions on the 2012 programme, along with films from the US, UK, Israel, Brazil, Croatia and Serbia... Read more about: Polish Productions at the 2011 New York Jewish Film Festival

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