The well-known Polish writer receives a Slovakian re-telling in a production directed by Henryk Rozen. Original text translation by Petra Himiča
The action takes place in the middle of a forest, once patrolled by soldiers, where locals smuggled goods from Czechoslovakia. After Poland's entry into the Schengen Agreement crossing the Polish-Slovakian border became impossible and ultimately denied any means by which to sustain large communities of persons.
The buildings of an old guardhouse are guarded by a lonely and fearful guard, who is kept on the payroll by the owner of the whole border section - a mythical Turk. Everyone awaits his coming, some with fear and apprehension, others with an unhampered hope for change.
The play says that revolution, in its most modern manifestation, did not satisfy everyone, says Andrzej Stasiuk in conversation with Bartosz Marc for the national Polish newspaper, Republic. The play obviously forms an allusion to Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", as well as to Mrożka's "Tango". I wrote it, for a German audience, for the Goethe Institut to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of communism. 'Waiting for the Turk' is...a comedy, because I like that genre the most. Theatre audiences should laugh. This way you can see if they're even reacting.
Andrzej Stasiuk's tragicomedy came about through the 'After the Fall' project. The Goethe Institut has commissioned seventeen dramatists in fifteen European countries to produce works reflecting the social and political situation in their home countries after the fall of the Berlin wall. The playwrights are to depict feelings otherwise unknown by the West. An attempt to tell the other side of the historical tale.
Waiting for the Turk is an accomplished work of the polical grotesque, in which a Mrożek-Beckettian language joins with parabolic form in the style of Waiting for the Barbarians by South African novelist J.M. Coeztee, where a nameless, allegorical empire comes under attack.
Andrzej Stasiuk has found a form which, with humour and intelligibility, talks about the problems of cultural change.
Source: press release, www.polinst.sk