Witold Gombrowicz's Operetta Wroclaw's Capitol Theatre, directed by Michał Zadara, music by Leszek Możdżer will be shown at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival.
A fashion-conscious count pines for a young beauty and wants to dress her. The young beauty just wants to go around naked. A rival suitor proclaims his love. There's a duel! There's a ball! A Marxist revolution staged by pickpockets! A camel falling from the sky!
Music, fashion, dancing, and chaos - and a cast of 22 - dominate this wild fable of the 20th-century's elite running out of ideas. The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, with the support and on the initiative of the Polish Cultural Institute, presents the North American professional debut of Operetta, a major work by Polish literary giant Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), re-envisioned by Michał Zadara, one of the most innovative Polish theater directors of his generation (and a Swarthmore College graduate). Each production of Operetta is scored anew; and for this latest staging, Poland's multiple-award-winning jazz pianist Leszek Możdżer composed an eclectic score that ranges from heart-wrenching ballads to punk rock. An operetta is the romantic comedy of opera, and Gombrowicz adopted the form for this, his final play, in order to present 20th-century transitions to totalitarianism in a grotesque way. Now, Zadara's adaptation of the prophetic musical farce explodes the form - and our expectations.
In an interview in Time Out New York, Swarthmore College professor Allen Kuharski described Gombrowicz as "Poland's counterpart to Jean Genet, but with Joe Orton's sense of humor. Gombrowicz's most powerful political weapon is his humor." Village Voice critic Charles McNulty called Gombrowicz's works "unbeatable sources of absurdist adrenaline"; and Louis Begley, writing in the Washington Post, deemed the Polish writer an "eccentric genius."
The presentation of Operetta is made possible due to support and initiative of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York. It was funded in part by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelsphia Theatre Initiative. Generous support for Operetta was granted by the Trust For Mutual Understanding.
The Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA
September 10-13, 2009, Tuesday-Saturday, 7:00 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 3:00 pm.