A Virtual Tour of the Biggest Theatre in Europe
#photography & visual arts
small, A Virtual Tour of the Biggest Theatre in Europe, Digital table with archival materials – a still from the Być Wielkim animation series by Daria Rzepiela and Tomasz Wełna, photo: promo materials / Tea, teatr-wielki-wirtualny-6.jpg
Kilos of books, gigabytes of scans, terabytes of animations and never-ending periods spent in archives and in front of a computer. All of it to create an outstanding series of animations that guides audiences through the corridors, interiors and stormy history of the Great Theatre in Warsaw.
Daria Rzepiela, independent artist and creator of bilingual virtual guide Wielki Means Great told Culture.pl:
I felt a bit like Indiana Jones... covered with dust, but happy.
Using hundreds of documents found in institutions in Poland and abroad, such as the Library of Congress in Washington DC, Rzepiela created a series of animations and interactive maps that reconstruct how Warsaw looked a few centuries earlier.
Original illustrations, documents and images are complemented with old press editorials along with anecdotes and the voice of Jan Frycz. Part of the materials have never been published before, and some were even considered missing such as the pre-war glass negatives showing Corazzi's drawings which were destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising. The date 19th November 2015 is important to the Great Theatre for three reasons: it marks the 250 year anniversary of the institution’s public activity, as well as the actual founding of the building’s cornerstone, and finally the theatre’s re-opening after its post-war restoration 50 years ago. It is highly worth going on a walk through the building site, ruins and restored rooms of the biggest theatre stage in Europe. Culture.pl presents six films from this amazing series that joins together theatre, art, science and architecture. It’s a must-see!
Two Million Bricks!
The Great Theatre in Warsaw is one of those stages regularly affected by the vagaries of history. Rzepiela underlines how the theatre’s story is full of ambitious plans, failures and many architectural and aesthetic visions. Corazzi's vision, in particular, impresses with its shops, cafes and even stables for horses taking part in plays. Let's imagine the carriages parked under the arcades and two million bricks from the demolished Marywil Tower that were used to rebuild the theatre...
Plan Corazziego from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
Working with iconography was extremely demanding. One of the challenges was to find out if and where there were glass negatives of the only remaining photographs of Corazzi's destroyed designs. And they succeeded. The animator traced and scanned four photographs of the original boards by Corazzi and three photos of their copies. She also confirmed the references from historical sources about incorporating Marywil Tower into the theatre's building.
Kamien wegielny from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
Who has not performed here! The Redutowe Rooms restoref after the Secon World War resemble the most the old shape of the theatre. The virtual walk invites to the interiors that remember the most magnificent carnival balls and concerts in the capital.
Sale Redutowe from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
An Explosive Auditorium
This film is about the first ever photo in Europe (and second in the world) taken of an audience using an explosive mixture for the flash...
Widownia from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
The Theatre in Ruins
‘The ground under the comfortable seats is soaked with blood...’ Just one of the quotes during this shocking two-minute video about the theatre during the war.
I edited the pictures documenting the war damage in such a way as to resemble a walk through the ruins of the theatre. Pictures from rebuilding the theatre were set chronologically and complemented with the overture from The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko, which was the last opera performed on the stage before its destruction and the first performed after the opening of the restored theatre.
Zniszczenia wojenne from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
The story is powerfully supplemented by Jan Frycz reciting Czesław Miłosz’s record about the incident when 300 audience members were executed…
The crux of telling the project’s story is based upon the space. Tying history to a particular section of the theatre's building enables us to look into the past, maintaining a sort of historic continuity of the whole. Daria Rzepiela jokes ‘it’s easier to find yourself in the right place than in the right time,’ and she emphasises how she has compiled the story out of historical documentation, without making anything up. And what would Apollo's Quadriga say about its history?
Kwadryga Apollina from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
To see more of the Grand Theatre without leaving your home, head to the Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera official website.
Source: press release, edited by AL, translated by ND, 23 Nov 2015