The Variety Theatre in Warsaw

Since the 1990s, the Teatr Rozmaitosci / Variety Theatre in Warsaw has been one of Poland's most interesting theatres, a place of innovative stagings by directors like Grzegorz Jarzyna and Krzysztof Warlikowski - members of the so-called "younger, more talented" generation.

The Teatr Rozmaitosci in Warsaw has been operating as an independent institution since 1972, though its beginnings date back to 1945 when a stage managed by the so-called Miejskie Teatry Dramatyczne / Municipal Dramatic Theatres opened in the basement of the building located at 8 Marszalkowska Street. During the 1948/49 season this venue operated under the name of the Teatr Rozmaitosci. It was then transformed into the Teatr Dzieci Warszawy / Theatre of the Children of Warsaw, subsequently into the Teatr Mlodej Warszawy / Theatre of Young Warsaw, and once again into the Variety, though this time it operated as the second stage of the Teatr Klasyczny / Classical Theatre.

In 1972 the theatre became an independent entity and Andrzej Jarecki, co-creator of the Studencki Teatr Satyrykow STS / STS Students Satirical Theatre, became its artistic director. Jarecki managed the Variety until 1982, and throughout his tenure, the theatre was home to the artists who previously constituted the STS. The repertoire included plays by Stanislaw Tym, Jerzy Dobrowolski, Agnieszka Osiecka as well as Wojciech Mlynarski and Janusz Krasinski. The program focused on comedies and contemporary satires that explored and took a stance on current issues and affairs. The Teatr Rozmaitosci mounted productions of plays like Aristophanes' THE FROGS, updated by Jarecki and directed by Giovanni Pampiglione (1973), Wojciech Mlynarski's CIEN / SHADOW, featuring the music of Maciej Malecki and directed by Jerzy Dobrowolski (1973), and Edward Redlinski's AWANS / THE PROMOTION directed by Olga Lipinska (1974). In time, the theatre's repertoire expanded to include classical plays, most notably Nikolai Gogol's THE DEAD SOULS, staged by debut director Andrzej Strzelecki (1977), Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz's LATO W NOHANT / SUMMER AT NOHANT, directed by Wojciech Solarz and featuring Edmund Fetting in a guest appearance as Frederick Chopin (1977), Frank Wedekind's EARTH DEMON, directed by Alexander Kraft and featuring Kalina Jedrusik, and William Shakespeare's RICHARD III directed by Henryk Boukolowski (1982). During the politically heated time of the "Solidarity carnival," the theatre experienced tremendous success with its productions of Stanislaw Tym and Jerzy Dobrowolski's CIEMNY GRYLAZ / BURNED SWEETMEAT (1980) and Jarecki's JASELKA NA DZIEN BIEZACY / A NATIVITY PLAY FOR TODAY (1980). In October of 1981 the theatre premiered Andrzej Jarecki and Ziemowit Fedecki's PODPORUCZNIK KIZE / LIEUTENANT KIZHE, a play that for political reasons had been banned from all theatre repertoires for fifteen years.

In 1982 Jarecki was replaced by Andrzej Maria Marczewski, who remained the artistic and managing director of the Teatr Rozmaitosci until 1985. Marczewski brought in new actors and new collaborators. During his tenure at the theatre on Marszalkowska Street, he strove to introduce an ambitious repertoire. The plays staged during this time included Karol Wojtyla's PROMIENIOWANIE OJCOSTWA / RADIATION OF FATHERHOOD (1983), Juliusz Slowacki's BALLADYNA (1984), a stage adaptation of Jerzy Andrzejewski's novel POPIOL I DIAMENT / ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1984) and Tadeusz Rozewicz's NA CZWORAKACH / ON ALL FOURS (1985), all directed by Marczewski. The theatre also staged Aleksander Fredro's WIELKI CZLOWIEK DO MALYCH INTERESOW / A GRAND MAN FOR SMALL MATTERS, adapted by Jerzy Kreczmar and directed by Jozef Fryzlewicz (1985).

The theatre began the 1985/86 season with a new director in the person of prominent actor Ignacy Gogolewski. A fire at the theatre in 1988 temporarily put a stop to its normal operations. Both the auditorium and a significant part of the stage were destroyed. The ensemble of the Teatr Rozmaitosci performed at other venues, primarily at the Teatr Buffo/ Buffo Theatre. The first productions under the new artistic director were Jerzy Szaniawski's EWA / EVA directed by Gogolewski (1986) and Stanislaw Wyspianski's NOC LISTOPADOWA / A NOVEMBER NIGHT staged by Ludwik René (1986). Both garnered favorable responses from both critics and audiences, and the Teatr Rozmaitosci was expected to continue developing artistically. A conflict between the artistic director and the ensemble dashed these expectations. A general lack of acceptance for Gogolewski within the theatre community since the times of Martial Law caused him to tender his resignation in May of 1990.

Wojciech Szulczynski became artistic director while the venue of the Variety Theatre was still being rebuilt after the fire. He proposed that the stage on Marszalkowska Street become an art-house theatre with great ambitions. The first premiere under new management was Witold Gombrowicz's SLUB / THE MARRIAGE directed by Szulczynski (1991). The reception was cool to say the least, and the production was performed only two more times. One month later Szulczynski abandoned the Teatr Rozmaitosci.

Wojciech Pronobis-Pronski, hitherto the deputy director, assumed responsibility for administration while an artistic council was appointed to manage creative matters at the Rozmaitosci. Municipal authorities commissioned the Gessler company to run the theatre, but the contract was terminated very shortly after being concluded.

By 1994 the Teatr Rozmaitosci was solely under city management. A new managing director was appointed in the person of Bogdan Slonski, who was simultaneously deputy director of the Teatr Szwedzka 2/4 / 2/4 Szwedzka Street Theatre. This young theatre based in the district of Praga in Warsaw moved to the rebuilt venue and assumed the name of the Variety Theatre. Wojciech Maryanski was appointed artistic director. After a series of lean years, a new phase of the theatre's history began. The breakthrough came with the directing debut of Grzegorz Jarzyna, a recent graduate of the State Higher School of Theatre in Krakow. His staging of BZIK TROPIKALNY / TROPICAL CRAZE (under the pseudonym Grzegorz Horst d'Albertis) based on the play by Witkacy (1997) defined a new direction for productions at the Rozmaitosci. The production was labeled an important event and the most interesting staging of a Witkacy work in Poland in many seasons.

In January of 1997 another young theatre director, Piotr Cieplak, became artistic director of the Rozmaitosci and devised a new motto for the institution - "Najszybszy teatr w miescie" / "The Fastest Theatre in Town." Cieplak also labeled the young audiences he wanted the theatre to cater to, calling them "martensi" (a reference to Doc Martens footwear). The Rozmaitosci became the favored theatre of young audiences curious to see "risky" productions. The Teatr Rozmaitosci provided this in Ariano Suassuna's HISTORIA O MILOSIERNEJ CZYLI TESTAMENT PSA / THE STORY OF THE MERCIFUL ONE, OR THE DOG'S WILL directed by Cieplak (1997), Ramon del Valle-Inclan's SLOWA BOZE / DIVINE WORDS directed by Piotr Tomaszuk (1998), and Aleksander Fredro's MAGNETYZM SERCA / MAGNETISM OF THE HEART directed by Jarzyna (1999). The latter individual became the theatre's artistic director in October of 1998 and turned the Rozmaitosci into one of the country's most interesting stages, a stage that is encouraging the emergence of a new theatre aesthetic.

The Rozmaitosci does not engage in any form of "ideological" theatre. Instead, its profile is shaped by artists who each follow their own path. However, what is visible today is the theatre's singular style, a style marked by adopting a distance to the surrounding reality and by sharp and penetrating examination of contemporary times. Thus far, during his tenure as artistic director, Jarzyna has staged KSIAZE MYSZKIN / PRINCE MYSHKIN after Fyodor Dostoyevsky (2000), Thomas Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov's UROCZYSTOSC / CELEBRATION (2001) and Sarah Kane's 4.48 PSYCHOSIS (2002). Krzysztof Warlikowski has also become a regular contributor at the Teatr Rozmaitosci, mounting such widely commented productions as William Shakespeare's HAMLET (1999), Euripides' THE BACCHAE (2001), Sarah Kane's CLEANSED (2001) and Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST (2003). More recently the Rozmaitosci opened its doors to Krystian Lupa, Jarzyna's one-time mentor, who directed STOSUNKI KLARY / CLARA'S RELATIONS based on Dea Loher's PRZYPADEK KLARY / THE CASE OF CLARA (2003).

In 1999 Bogdan Slonski stepped down as managing director after a conflict with Jarzyna. He was replaced by Jan Buchwald, who managed the theatre in the years 1999-2001. Michal Merczynski has been the managing director of the stage on Marszalkowska Street since June of 2002.

In March of 2001 the Teatr Rozmaitosci created a new stage known as the "STOLARNIA" / "CARPENTRY SHOP" within a rehearsal room of its building. It also runs the Teatr Rozmaitosci Gallery and has implemented the Nowa Dramaturgia (New Drama) series, which operates as a forum for the presentation of staged readings of contemporary new plays by Polish and foreign authors. The acting ensemble is made up of Magdalena Cielecka, Aleksandra Konieczna, Maja Ostaszewska, Danuta Stenka, Andrzej Chyra, Marek Kalita, Redbad Klynstra, Cezary Kosinski, Lech Lotocki, Jacek Poniedzialek. Regular collaborators include Stanislawa Celinska, Malgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, Danuta Szaflarska, Jan Peszek and Miroslaw Zbrojewicz.
 

Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora
April 2003
 


TR Warszawa
ul. Marszałkowska 8
00-590 Warszawa
Phone: (+48 22) 480 80 09, 480 80 11, 480 80 08 (bilety)
Phone/Fax: (+48 22) 480 80 02
WWW: www.trwarszawa.pl

 

 

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