Polish Theatre on Demand
default, Polish Theatre on Demand, 'Les Contes d’Hoffman’ (The Tales of Hoffman) directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski at The Royal Theatre of La Monnaie, photo: © Bernd Uhlig, center, contes-dhoffmann_fot-bernd-uhlig-2.jpg
There used to be a Facebook page titled ‘I Don’t Believe in a Life Outside of Theatre’. For those who truly cannot accept such an existence, we recommend the following 5 performances from the Polish stage. Though they vary widely, they are all accessible legally and at no cost from the peace and quiet of your own home.
If there were a prize for a least-cohesive list, this one would place rather high – Poland has such a strong diversity of performance, and there are so many online to choose from. On top of that, Polish theatre has long been known for the strength of its visual elements, from staging to scenography. That’s why, although these plays do not currently offer English subtitles, they can still be enjoyed by viewers who don't know Polish.
1. ‘Cosmos’ directed by Jerzy Jarocki
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‘Cosmos’ directed by Jerzy Jarocki, Warsaw, 13.10.2005, National Theatre, photo: Jan Rolke / FORUM
Though sterile, this stage design is pleasant to look at. Jerzy Juk-Kowarski's minimalist, geometric scenography helps unveil the circuitous philosophical strands of Cosmos (originally: Kosmos), a 1965 novel by Witold Gombrowicz.
This theatrical version is strengthened by its excellent cast from the National Theatre: Małgorzata Kożuchowska, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz and Anna Seniuk. There is also an appearance by a student of the National Academy of Dramatic Art, Marcin Hycnar.
Follow this link to see the performance.
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2. ‘Les Contes d’Hoffman’ (The Tales of Hoffman) directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski
On the opposite aesthetic pole is Krzysztof Warlikowski’s most recent opera, Les Contes d’Hoffman (The Tales of Hoffman), performed at The Royal Theatre of La Monnaie in Brussels. For some time, the director has been focusing on big-budget productions abroad, rather than at his Nowy Theatre in Warsaw, Poland. Fans everywhere, however, can be satisfied with this visually attractive opera by Offenbach (which was also well-received by the exacting operatic public).
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3. ‘Małżowina’ (The Auricle) directed by Wojciech Smarzowski
In this televised play about isolation, a writer rents an apartment where he locks himself away in voluntary isolation to write a book. Few remember that before Smarzowski’s feature-length film debut, a 2004 dark comedy titled The Wedding (originally: Wesele), he directed Małżowina (The Auricle) for Telewizji Theatre – an institution focused on funding and transmitting televised plays.
The performance includes stars such as Marcin Świetlicki, as well as Arkadiusz Jakubik and Marian Dziędziel, who you can also find in Smarzowski’s later films.
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4. ‘Intercontinental’ directed by Marysia Stokłosa
We also encourage you to check out the less eye-catching options amongst the thicket of on-demand options, such as this choreographed performance. Marysia Stokłosa’s low-budget Intercontinental is excellent for a quiet, muted experience. The solo performance also serves as a unique approach to the subject matter.
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5. 'The Morality of Mrs Dulska’ directed by Marcin Wrona
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Scene from 'The Morality of Mrs Dulska' directed by Marcin Wrona, pictured: Magdalena Cielecka and Jakub Gierszał, photo: www.teatrtelewizji.tvp.pl
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moralność pani dulskiej
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For those who prefer classical drama and well-costumed performances, we recommend one of the best offerings of Telewizji Theatre in the past few years: The Morality of Mrs Dulska (originally: Moralność Pani Dulskiej).
The ‘smug tragi-farce’ – as original playwright Gabriela Zapolska subtitled it – contains an excellent cast, including Magdalena Cielecka, Jaśmina Polak, Zofia Wichłacz, Agata Buzek, Jakub Gierszał and Robert Więckiewicz.
The performance is a pleasant, tongue-in-cheek watch, available at this link.
Originally written in Polish by Marcelina Obarska, 18 Mar 2020; translated by AZ, edited by LD, 24 Mar 2020
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