For the Most Demanding Audiences: Theatre for Kids
default, For the Most Demanding Audiences: Theatre for Kids, 'The Six Bullerby Children', photo: N.Kabanow / Teatr Polski in Wrocław, 08-bullerbyn-fot-n-kabanow.jpg
Good news for the youngest performing arts lovers – the top Polish theatre venues have something for them as well! The craziest, most outgoing and funniest characters from the Polish classics have made their way to the stage... From Maria Kownacka to Jan Brzechwa and Dorota Masłowska, there's singing, music, interaction, flying and more.
Comic books come alive at Teatr Studio
Three actors, their costumes blending in with the background, perform on a minimalistic set, which features projected stills from a comic book. The images 'happen' right in front of the spectator's eyes. The actors become part of the comic-book world, and 2D characters come to life...
Teatr Studio has staged Łauma, an adaptation of a comic book for children by Karol 'KRL' Kalinowski. Its protagonist is Dorotka, whose adventures unfold in a world of beliefs, Gods, and forest creatures. Coming under the scrutiny of children's eyes, the story speaks out to adults and shows the struggles of contemporary life.
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Jak Zostałam Wiedźmą (How I Became a Witch) is another play for children, a 2014 premiere directed by Agnieszka Glińska. The show is based on a philosophical children's story by Dorota Masłowska. The Teatr Studio performance is 'for big and small. It makes you laugh and scares you. A wide range of emotions — guaranteed', the creators tout.
The music for the show is composed by Wojciech Waglewski, and the cast includes: Kinga Preis, Łukasz Simlat, Monika Krzywkowska, Dorota Landowska, Marcin Bosak, Monika Obara, Dominika Ostałowska, Mirosław Zbrojewicz, Paweł Wawrzecki, Modest Ruciński and Marcin Januszkiewicz.
Adventures of the pencil-case gang at Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz
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'Plastusiowy Pamiętnik', photo: Magda Hueckel / Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz
The cult Polish bedtime cartoon Plastusiowy Pamiętnik (Plastuś' Diary), created by Maria Kownacka, first came out in 1931. The protagonist's scholastic skills and helpful attitude have become a widely known part of Polish culture. Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz hearkens back to the days of more innocent cartoons with a colourful, humorous, retro play with Magdalena Łaska in the role of the beloved, Dumbo-eared Plastuś. He appears on stage alongside all his pencil-case friends – erasers, crayons, pencils, paintbrushes, fountain pens and the ink pot.
She comes out from a giant pencil case, clad in a costume inspired by Rychalicki's cult illustrations for Maria Kownacka's book. The costume effectively diverts attention away from Plastuś's gender. She has delivered a brilliant performance. She never moves her legs, as if they were really made out of plasticine, grabbing kids' attention – and most of all, she gave the character a very funny edge. It was so good that in effect, the kids didn't see an actor on the stage, but a character from a book they didn't want to take their eyes away from.
Staging a play about a creature made of modelling clay – one that is known to the whole of Poland, generation after generation – was no walk in the park, but the director, Lena Frankiewicz, managed the daunting task. To make sure she was on the right path, she consulted with kids about her ideas... Job well done!
The music to "Plastusiowy Pamiętnik was composed by Marek Napiórkowski and the choreography by Iza Chlewińska.
Neverland at Szczecin's Współczesny Theatre
It's a journey to Neverland with John, Michael, Wendy and Tinker Bell, courtesy of one of Poland's most talented theatre directors of the younger generation – Ewelina Marciniak. The play, Piotruś Pan (Peter Pan) was co-directed by dramaturge Michał Buszewicz. 'A dynamic performance', they promise, with plenty of movement, music, special effects and songs. The best part? The characters actually fly.
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The Wspołczesny Theatre's blog reads:
The fairy-tale like setting ought not to divert attention from important matters that surface in Peter Pan's story. After all, we're dealing with a case of running away from home and running far, far away, for that matter – to a place where you have to make a choice between the half-wild world of the Lost Boys and the ruthless world of pirates (who, in the performance, will be played by a few celebrities). For Neverland starts to increasingly reflect a world to which a child escapes, rebelling against the repression of his upbringing. They will no longer be the images we became accustomed to through fairy tales from our childhoods and which we consider to be the only existing models.
Bromba in a 6th Floor net
6. Piętro Theatre in Warsaw presents its first ever performance for kids. Co-directed by Michał Żebrowski and director-writer Maciej Wojtyszek, they put on a show about Bromba – a resolute and well-known creature whose stories have delighted generation after generation in Poland. This time, Bromba faces contemporary challenges: the search for a particularly malicious computer virus roaming the net.
This highly interactive musical show features an array of characters remembered from the books: the detectives Kajetan Chrumps and Makawit the cat, their friends and of course Bromba. 'It's a play about friendship, courage, and foremostly, about how to deal with the contemporary, highly technological world in order for it to be more joyful than problematic' – 6. Piętro Theatre seems to have all the answers.
'The Six Bullerby Children' at Polski Theatre in Wrocław
It's a play about children and for children. That's how I wish for it to be understood. I don't want kids to associate theatre with a couple of adults who pretend to be kids and grin at the audience,
said Anna Ilczuk, the director of Dzieci z Bullerbyn (The Six Bullerby Children), in an interview.
Critics seem to value her approach. One reviewer wrote:
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Zięba, Mrowiec, Boroń, Mrozek, Kłak and Pempuś and the director created a marvellous performance for one simple reason: they had a lot of fun doing it. That's visible from the opening scene.
As the first play for kids staged at the Wrocław theatre in years, the creators called on a group of children to participate in its creation. The youngsters designed the set with their own drawings. Smiles are guaranteed... And for the first time in the region of Lower Silesia, the performance will be audio-described and translated into sign language.
Pinocchio's rebellion at Nowy Teatr
In a first for the Warsaw Nowy Teatr, we have a children's play called Pinokio (Pinocchio), directed by Anna Smolar. It differs greatly from the Carlo Collodi classic, however. The creators explain:
Our 'Pinokio' tells a tale about: the eternal longing for freedom, rebellion, identity (also in the bodily sense) and its limits. Pinokio fights for independence. He fights with his whole body. That's why he will be presented as a puppet controlled by a puppeteer. Like a child who searches for freedom – or more precisely, independence in the fog. And – probably like every child in today's world – he fathoms that money grants freedom. Where does his innate hyper-materialism come from? Lies become his only tool of evading the poverty of his father. Pinokio is ashamed and lies. He starts losing himself. Fortunately, he meets the Fairy. And that's music.
Pinokio premiered at the Nowy Teatr in Warsaw on May 31st 2014, with the lead roles played by Magdalena Popławska and Dominik Knapik. The Pinokio character takes on an experimental form. The puppeteer is played by an actor who controls and is the voice of another actor playing the wooden Pinokio. Other cast members include Magdalena Cielecka, Maciej Stuhr, Piotr Polak, Łukasz Kos and Zygmunt Malanowicz. The music is played live by Natalia Fiedorczuk and Karolina Rec.
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A little bug called Trickster Flea... at the National Theatre
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'Pchła Szachrajka', photo: Andrzej Wencel, photo: National Theatre press materials
A naughty flea called Szachrajka ('trickster') features as protagonist in a fairy tale by Jan Brzechwa, bringing laughter to a great theatre. The actress Anna Seniuk, who once portrayed the mischievous flea, now directs the play. The main role is taken by Ewa Konstancja Bułchak, a student of Seniuk's from the Warsaw Theatre Academy. 'She couldn't have made a better choice,' wrote Jacek Wakar wrote in Dziennik Gazecta Prawna:
Ewa Konstancja Bułhak plays Szachrajka brilliantly. She's naturally witty, musical (she sings the majority of her part) and defiant. In her interpretation – this more concerns the adult reception – the Flea is a modern, completely emancipated young woman who dares to oppose the male-dominated world. In the end, almost like Kate from Shakespeare's comedy, she lets herself be subdued and finds happiness in a home with 5,000 children. And she lives happily ever after.
Pchła Szachrajka (Trickster the Flea) has amused youngsters and adults for almost 50 years now. Brzechwa's wit and Seniuk's musical ideas make this a must-see at the National Theatre in Warsaw.
theatre for kids
Originally written in Polish by Ania Legierska; translated by Mai Jones, 4th Apr 2014; edited by LD, May 2019