Czesław Miłosz’s Prologue directed by Michał Zadara
It took sixty-seven years for Czesław Miłosz's drama to be staged. Prologue, the only piece for theatre by the future Polish Nobel Prize winner, was directed for the first time by Michał Zadara at the Theatre Institute in Warsaw
Prologue was written in 1944. It was intended for the opening of the National Theatre, and it was to precede Acropolis directed by Leon Schiller, with stage design by Andrzej Pronaszko. The performance, however, wasn't put on, and it sank into oblivion and was seemingly lost. It was rediscovered many years later, and finally published in 1981.
The destruction of the city, including the Grand Theatre, changed the poet’s perception of the value of the experiences he described in the Prologue. The finding of the text and its publication in Pamiętnik Teatralny in 1981 was acknowledged by the author – his consent was needed for printing – but he commented on it neither then nor later. He reacted similarly with regard to the release of a radio version in 1997 which was aired in the cycle of the National Scene by the first programme of Polish Radio.
The premiere performance of the play was part of the Miłosz’s Warsaw international literary and scientific session which was held on October 13-14, 2011, at the Palace of Science and Technology.
The organizers’ idea was to show Warsaw as an exciting and traumatic place on the historical and intellectual map of Europe of the twentieth century, and to show the city as the most important place in Czesław Miłosz’s works, which he referred to and reinterpreted in his writings. Moreover, they aimed to bring to light Miłosz’s Warsaw experience and make it a prism of the European experience of twentieth-century modernity.
Witold Mrozek reflected on Zadara’s staging in Krytyka Polityczna:
Michał Zadara allows all sorts of characters to be what they are – to the bone. In the Husband of State, played by Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, the learned movements of a politician combine with pathos and cynicism, though this cynicism serves a just cause, as it is to rebuild a normal life. His antagonist is the Poet – Edward Linde-Lubaszenko, representing the memory of the dead and harmed, in the spirit of Miłosz – "the poet remembers." We watch a sort of duel between two necromancers. Both the Poet and Husband of State are concerned with establishing links between the living and the dead. The latter manifests the modern concept of "historical policy" (obviously not calling it so), in which the dead are used by the living to achieve their current objectives. Yet, the poet combines features of an intelligent ironist with that of a romantic story teller; although he starts from a distance and undermines the grandiloquent gestures of the politician, he ends up with a pathetic gesture himself, a ritual summoning of postwar spirits. The spirits speak and stand up for their own, for humanity in the world after Auschwitz. Their sacrifice was made to protect humanity.
The Prologue by Czesław Miłosz; direction: Michał Zadara; music: Asa Horvitz, dramaturgy: Daniel Przastek. Cast: Paulina Kinaszewska, Barbara Wysocka, Robert Koszucki, Edward Linde-Lubaszenko, Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, Krzysztof Skonieczny, Wojciech Solarz, Paweł Tomaszewski.
World premiere (at the Performance Hall of the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute): 13th of October, 2011 at 19:00; open performances): 21st and 22nd October 2011 at 19:00.
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