Ignacy Gogolewski

Ignacy Gogolewski, 1968. Photo: Jerzy Troszczyński / Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

Ignacy Gogolewski, 1968. Photo: Jerzy Troszczyński / Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

Actor and director. Born in 1931 in Ciechanów. In 1953, he graduated from the acting department of the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Warsaw.

After graduation, he worked with the Teatr Polski in Warsaw until 1959. He later returned to that theatre twice, during the years 1975-1980 and 1992-2000. From 1959-1962 and 1968-1971, he was an actor with Warsaw's Teatr Dramatyczny (Dramatic Theatre). From 1965 to 1968, he appeared on the stage of the Teatr Współczesny (Contemporary Theatre) in Warsaw. In addition to his work as an actor, he also served as the managing director of the Teatr Śląski (Silesian Theatre) in Katowice (1971-1974), the Teatr im. Osterwy (Osterwa Theatre) in Lublin (1980-1985) and the Teatr Rozmaitości in Warsaw (1985-1989). He is currently an actor with the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) in Warsaw.

His professors and mentors included: Jan Kreczmar, Maria Dulęba, Zofia Małynicz, Jan Świderski, Marian Wyrzykowski and Janina Romanówna. He learned from them the importance of the spoken word, the ability to use one's voice, respect for the rhythm of prose and poetry. One could say that Ignacy Gogolewski, a very attractive actor, who feels right at home with the classical repertoire, is one of the last actors representing the old school of acting. About the early years of his career, he has said:

"when I was hired at the Teatr Polski after my studies, I met very many outstanding people, including some whose names today might not ring many bells today. Taken together, they comprised an academy of knowledge about tacit laws of theatre, though without these rules theatre today would go nowhere at all..." (Teatr, no. 5/1974)

The first time he drew attention to himself was with his outstanding performance as Gustaw Konrad in Dziady / Forefather's Eve by Adam Mickiewicz, directed by Aleksander Bardini (1955). Reviewers wrote that "his talent and mastery of technique shone", "he charmed the public with his personality and beautiful recitation". Critics unanimously recognized the young actor as coming from the noblest traditions of Romantic theatre.

Then came other roles: Maurycy in Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz's Lato w Nohant (1956), Achilles in the play by Artur Maria Swinarski Achilles i panny (1956), Rizzio in Maria Stuart / Mary Stuart by Juliusz Słowacki (1958) and the title role in Mazepa by Juliusz Słowacki (1959). At the Teatr Dramatyczny, he has appeared in the roles of Pastor Hale, for example, in The Crucible / Proces w Salem by Arthur Miller (1959) and the poet Jęzory in Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz's play W małym dworku / Country House (1959). In the character of Jezory, so different than those he had played up to that time, he showed his great versatility as an actor. In his recitation, he parodied the classical style. His approach to Witkiewicz's text, which completely broke with tradition, was extremely innovative.

Gogolewski most values the presence of the internal dialectic in his artistic work. Creating something, and then liberating oneself from what has been created. (...) Gogolewski, who was the first to play the role of Gustaw Konrad, perfected the Romantic style. A trait of this style is the weaving of lyric and dramatic qualities. Gogolewski, however, having created a certain style of acting, made sure to liberate himself from it as well. That is why Gogolewski is playing in Witkacy... (Krzysztof Glogowski, Slowo Powszechne, no. 14/1976)

Gogolewski continually broadened his repertoire, playing Nero in Jean Racine's Britannicus (Polish trans., Brytanik) (1963), Janek in Jerzy Szaniawski's Most / The Bridge (1963) and Gustaw in Aleksander Fredro's Śluby panieńskie / Maidens' Vows (1963). One of his outstanding achievements was his performance as Zygmunt August in the famous production of Kroniki królewskie / Royal Chronicles by Stanisław Wyspiański (1968), directed by Ludwik René in the Teatr Dramatyczny (Dramatic Theatre).

Taking part in this production allowed Gogolewski to do more than just demonstrate the maturity of his own acting, (...) he portrayed Zygmunt August in all his mounting emotions, determined in his play for power as well as in love, ardent in scenes in which he makes his will known, as well as in those of mournful lamentation. (Witold Filler, Ignacy Gogolewski, Warsaw: WAiF 1979)

Ignacy Gogolewski's television roles of the 1960s and 1970s cannot be pigeonholed easily-they are simply too varied. One can find both traits of his earlier Romantic roles, as well as those he had later in film. He played the role of Rodrigo, for example, in Pierre Corneille's Le Cid / Cyd (1969), the title role in Juliusz Słowacki's play Mazepa (1969), that of Zenon Ziembiewicz in Zofia Nałkowska's Granica / The Limit (1970), Him (Jego) in Drugi Pokój / The Second Room by Zbigniew Herbert (1970) and Tadeusz in Janusz Krasiński's Śniadanie u Desdemony / Breakfast at Desdemona's (1975).

Gogolewski has also played in many films, including those done by Poland's best directors, including Stanisław Różewicz's Trudna Miłość / Difficult Love (1953) and Samotność we dwoje / Loneliness for Two (1968); and in Jerzy Antczak's Wystrzał / The Shot (1965) and Hrabina Cosel / Countess Cosel (1968). He also played the title role in Witold Lesiewicz's Bolesław Śmiały (1971), as well as Cyprian Kamil Norwid in Dom św. Kazimierza / The House of St. Kazimierz (1983), which he also directed. For audiences, however, most memorable was his performance as Antek Boryna in the television series Chłopi (The Peasants), directed by Jan Rybkowski (1972), an adaptation of the novel by Władysław Reymont, for which Reymont received the Nobel prize in literature. Gogolewski's Antek "charmed with his simplicity" and with this "romantic obsession". There was something at once both simple and noble in this role.

Antek Boryna draws his strength from his limitless faith in the land itself. (...) He is a peasant who seemingly has a majestic simplicity, inborn personal dignity, both of which traits arose from his constant contact with the land - who at once supports and conquers us... (Lidia Klimczak, "Aktor znaczy indywidualność", Panorama Polska, no. 5/1984)

Gogolewski's acting has inspired the following comments about what exactly it is about his method that is so very successful,

The success of his acting is based on the outstanding portrait he paints of a person's internal contradictions. This is why his success is not limited to his theatrical and television staging of characters from the pages of Mickiewicz, Słowacki, Pushkin, Shakespeare or Dostoevskii. The success of Antek Boryna in Chłopi is also based on that quality. (...) Another dominant feature is his voice and his excellent sense for the musical phrasing of the spoken word, which allow him to do justice to the full colour and beauty of the texts. His recordings have included Wielkie monologi romantyczne / Great Romantic Dialogues and Słowa milosci i rozpaczy / Words of Love and Despair. (Krzysztof Glogowski "Mistrz poetyckiego tonu", Kierunki, no. 50/1987)

After the fire at Warsaw's Teatr Rozmaitości (Variety Theatre) in 1989, Gogolewski retired from acting. In 1992, his book Wszyscy jesteśmy aktorami... / We Are All Actors was published, which consisted of his memoirs, as well as reflections and comments about his profession.

After several years, he returned to the stage of Teatr Polski, where he played the leading role in Eugene Ionesco's Chairs / Krzesła and Regent Milczek in Aleksander Fredro's Zemsta / Revenge (1998). His part in Thomas Bernhard's Aktor Minetti was outstanding (1999). The director this great role in the Teatr Polski to Gogolewski, who coaxes many tones from it, many surprising ones, which break with the usual realistic narration. (...) Gogolewski has created a character difficult to define unequivocally, one which is at once both great and small, a buffoon and person devastated by defeat, who is passionately seeking a new dramatic formula. (Tomasz Miłkowski, "Aktorskie tajemnice", Trybuna, 10 December 1999)

Most recently, Gogolewski has received the Aleksander Zelwerowicz award, and has played in the roles of Count Szarma in Witold Gombrowicz's Operetka / Operetta (2000), and as Laurenty in Taduesz Różewicz's Na czworakach / On All Fours (2001) at the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre). Those two roles represent a crowing moment in Gogolewski's acting career.

"Two equal roles, it would seem, wonderfully acted, in that same ironic, jester-like style, the ideal role, it seems, for an actor who at one time embodied the ideal of the Romantic hero. (...) After all, however, because despite all of Gogolewski's skill, his Laurenty is just a repeat of Szarma, just like the principle behind film sequels, which sharpen the traits of those characters who are most popular in the original film. In Kutz's production, Gogolewski is more a comic figure in his role as a senile and lustful aged poet than Szarma with his fancy clothes and walking stick. The problem, however, is that in Operetka, this kind of character would be a sign that the play is being interpreted in a new way-the clearest signal of its opening! In Na czworakach, on the other hand, it is an obvious confirmation that the play is being interpreted in the simplest way possible. A sign of its closing. (Jacek Kopciński, "Biala piers rozy i inne pokusy inscenizatora", Teatr, no. 3/2001)

Most significant awards:

  • 1962 - Award of the Committee for Radio and Television for his roles in the Polish Radio Theatre.
  • 1964 - Second State Prize for his outstanding work as actor, and in particular for his role as Nero in Jean Racine's Britannicus (Polish trans., Brytanik), Gucio in Aleksander Fredro's Maidens' Vows and for his title role in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray / Polish trans., Portret Doriana Graya (with Television Playhouse / Teatr Telewizji)
  • 1966 - Award for his role as the King in Maria Dąbrowska's Stanisław i Bogumił at the Wrocław Festival of Polish Contemporary Plays
  • 1968 - Silver Mask readers' choice award from "Ekspress Wieczorny" for the most popular actors in Television Playhouse (Teatr Telewizji)
  • 1969 - Award of the Committee for Radio and Television for his acting in the television production of Juliusz Słowacki's Mazepa
  • 1968/1970 season - Golden Screen award for best acting in Television Playhouse (Teatr Telewizji) performances of Juliusz Słowacki's Mazepa, Fyodor Dostoevskii's Brothers Karamazov/ Bracia Karamazow and in the television film Urząd / The Bureau (based on the novel by Tadeusz Breza)
  • 1973 - Group award from the Committee for Radio and Television for the mini-series based on the novel Chłopi / The Peasants by Władysław Reymont
  • 1977 - First prize (individual) from the Chair of the Committee for Radio and Television for his directing in the Television Playhouse performance of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz W małym dworku / The Country House
  • 1982 - Trybuna Ludu (Warsaw daily) award for lifetime achievement in directing and acting in dramatic theatres and Television Playhouse (Teatr Telewizji) productions, in particular for his popularization of the Polish classics
  • 1982 - Golden Screen award for the staging of Leon Kruczkowski's Pierwszy dzień wolności / First Day of Freedom in the Osterwa Theatre in Lublin
  • 1983 - First prize from the head of the Committee for Radio and Television, for lifetime achievement in acting for Television Playhouse (Teatr Telewizji) performances
  • 1984 - Special Award of the jury at the Opole Theatrical Encounters "Polish Classics" for the cultivation of poetic recitation in the performance of Juliusz Słowacki's Fantazy at Lublin's Osterwa Theatre
  • 1985 - Theatre award of the Lublin Voivod for outstanding artistic achievement
  • 1985 - Włodzimierz Pietrzak Artistic Award for achievements in the field of acting and theatrical directing
  • 1988 - award from the Head of the Committee for Radio and Television for his outstanding interpretation of poetry and prose in the artistic programmes of the Polish Radio and for his work with Polish Television
  • 1995 - Juliusz Osterwa medal of honour
  • 2000 - Aleksander Zelwerowicz Award for his role as Count Szarma in Witold Gombrowicz's Operetka at the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) in Warsaw

Prepared in December 2001, updated in November 2010

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