Experimental Polish theatre and performance artists once again set off to the rural corners of Poland to turn the world of the village-dwellers upside down! Rubin, Janiczak, Borczuch and Ziemilski - these are the names of artists who will stage performances, hold exhibitions and put on cosmic shows to prove that the impossible is nothing. Here come the Wielkopolska Revolutions.
The curator and author of the project, Agata Siwiak, has been nominated for the prestigious Polityka weekly “Passport” prize for this endeavour. She comments on the beginnings of the Wielkopolska Revolutions:
When preparing the first edition, I was afraid that the artists would fail to find a common language with people who lived in small villages and rural areas. But it turned out that in these places, in Szamocin, Zakrzew and Słupca, the local community is very open and willing to work. For these people, the preparation of an event is the beginning of their adventure with art. It’s hard to say who undergoes a bigger transformation – the artists or those who work with them. Most of the projects are continued even after the Revolutions are over.
Agata Siwiak also lists the successes of the amateur artists which resulted from the previous edition of the project:
Under the guidance of Mikołaj Mikołajczyk, the seniors of Zakrzew danced their performances in prestigious cultural institutions across Poland – Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Nowy Teatr in Warsaw, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, and the Malta Festival in Poznań. The children from the orphanage in Szamocin as well as local youths connected to the Stacja Szamocin [Szamocin Station] project were invited to show their performance at the Stary Theatre in Kraków. An architect who usually constructs spaces and buildings in France and Belgium designed a cultural day room in the town of Rzgów. And the Brass Orchestra of the Volunteer Fire Brigade from Słupca was awarded a long standing ovation at the Poznań Philharmonic.
The previous editions have shown that for the local communities the artistic events became a special kind of a holiday. They attracted whole villages and even neighbouring towns. This year, from June through to September, various Polish artists will collaborate with people from Lisówki, Szamocin, Rozdrażew, Jarocin and Prusim. The fruit of their work will be shown across the major stages of Poznań: Stary Browar, Nowy Teatr and the Zamek Cultural Centre.
Rubin and Janiczak in Lisówki make the local seniors dance
As part of the third edition of the Revolutions, in May 2014, the theatre duo Jolanta Janiczak and Wiktor Rubin will collaborate with people from the Lisówki Nursing Home. The home has about 50 residents, who run their own theatre, write their own poems, and who also organise the Most Beautiful Couple contest. Everyone is a senior. Jolanta Janiczak and Wiktor Rubin, a duo of playwright and director, will also become residents of the home for over a month, where they will be joined by the performance artist and choreographer Cezary Tomaszewski. Under the guidance of these artists, the residents will either impersonate fictional characters, or they will dance / impersonate themselves. The dramaturgy of the performance will be guided by their own skills, experiences, and biographies – both real and made-up, distorted by memory and forgetfulness.
"We demand a 15 penny raise!" – the children in Michał Borczuch’s theatre, and in the lens of Jacqueline Sobiszewski
Following last year’s staging entitled Lepiej tam nie idź (You’d Better Not Go There), which engaged children performers, the young director Michał Borczuch returns to the orphanage in Szamocin wih a new idea. Together with other artists who collaborate with Borczuch, they will develop a new version of the performance and engage another group of children from an orphanage in the nearby town of Studzieniec . The photographer and light director Jacqueline Sobiszewski will conduct a series of workshops in photography and filmmaking in Studzieniec. The premiere showing of the new performance will coincide with an opening of the photography and video exhibition at Stacja Szamocin, providing children from the two places with a chance to meet, get to know one another, and celebrate the fruit of their work together.
Rozdrażew: The Cosmic Show of Wojtek Ziemilski
Rozdrażew, a village near the town of Krotoszyn, is home to an astronomy circle called Kasjopea. It started up three years ago, and its members are children, teenagers, adults, and seniors. The group draws its name from the Cassiopeia constellation, because it has the shape of the letter ‘w’, the first letter of Dr Ireneusz Włodarczyk’s surname. Dr Włodarczyk founded the circle after retiring and moving to the countryside. His initiative and idea to infect the local community with his passion for astronomy has fallen on fertile soil. The local community generally leads a very creative life. There are a dozen organized hobby groups, and local activists have signed a decree called the Declaration of Cultural Partnership.
Rozdrażew is actually home to a branch of the Polish Astronomy Association, and Włodarczyk’s Kasjopea has found its home at the local library. It is an institution run by Alicja Banaszek, who dreams of founding a cultural centre in Rozdrażew, expanding the library to add a real astronomical observatory, a concert/stage venue, and a cafe. The initial design for such a place has been laid out on the scheme of the solar system.
As part of the Rewolucje project, the performance artist, director, choreographer and video artist Wojtek Ziemilski is going to collaborate with Roman Pawłowski, a playwright, critic and specialist in documentary theatre. Together they intend to create a piece about the cosmos, space and time.
The Children of Jarocin and the Dutch ‘Olenders’ from Prusim
What would happen if we looked at all of Poland through the prism of Jarocin? What would happen if we tried to speak of those years in a different way, and attempted to ask what could be saved of them?
Weronika Szczawińska asks herself the above question. She is a playwright and theatre director who is going to collaborate with the multi-generational Children of Jarocin ensemble. With them, Szczawinska sets out to explore the tale of a time and a place where an entirely new society was meant to be created – at least for one brief moment in time. Together with a group of singing and playing children, teenagers, and veteran artists, as well as young independent musicians, they will set out into the 1980s. The organisers plan to dig through the archives of the Spichlerz Polskiego Rocka (The Granary of Polish Rock) a museum which is scheduled to open in July. The premiere showing will take place at the Echo cinema, which was home to the very first editions of the festival. The Jarocin Festival was one of the biggest and most important rock music festivals in 1980s Europe, and by far the biggest festival of alternative music in the Warsaw Pact countries.
The Wielkopolskie Rewolucje will also encompass activities pertaining to ethnic minorities. Past editions addressed the German and Roma minorities, and this year, there is an event devoted to the Olenders. They were a group of colonists from the Netherlands who created a very modern community, on both the sociopolitical and technological levels. Released from serfdom, they rented out land and felt responsible for those members of society who were victims of poverty. The Olenders for Poland Foundation was founded in Prusim out of a fascination with the Olender culture. by a local entrepreneur, Olaf Makiewicz, and his family members. The foundation restores the memory of the Olender legacy, and continues the sense of responsibility to the community. The project conducted as part of the Revolutions is meant to be a fusion of social activism and of technological progress. It will be conducted by the Humanities / Art / Technology Centre for Research, in collaboration with youth from the schools in Kwilcz, Chrzypsko Wielkie and Międzychodzie.
For a detailed programme of the performances and events in the series, visit the project’s website in Polish: Wielkopolska:rewolucje
Source: press release, PAP Polish Press Agency, edited by Anna Legierska
Translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser, 22/04/2014