Agata Biziuk is a young, acclaimed theatre director and playwright, and founder of the Informal Group Avis. She creates independent projects for adults, as well as plays for children and young people staged in Poznań, Łódź, Kielce, Szczecin, Białystok and Warsaw.
Theatre director and playwright, founder of the Informal Group Avis
Agata Biziuk is a graduate of the Aleksander Zelwerowicz Theatre Academy in Warsaw and the Department of Puppetry Arts in Białystok. Her theatre works include performances based on her own texts and original stage adaptations, in which she mixes sense of humour with psychology, movement, various puppetry techniques, fine arts and musical theatre elements. Her diploma project, 2007's The Cuckoo in the Wytwórnia Theatre in Warsaw, won many awards, such as the award for best play at the X-OFF Non-institutional Theatres Festival in Gliwice and an honourable mention in the Dolina Kreatywna Competition.
A year later, she charmed the audience of the Lalka Theatre with the playful Tigers from Joanna Papuzińska’s poem. It was an experiment, the first performance in an institutional theatre directed to children under 3 years old, so it was not surprising that parents stormed the ticket office first thing in the morning, and Alicja Rubczak announced the coming of a ‘frisky revolution’:
(...) Tigers tied in directly with the so-called initiation theatre trend developing in Central Europe. It opens a new chapter in Polish theatre (...) The set design makes an unusual impression on the senses. First, the viewer is introduced to a world of black and white patterns – checkered pillows, socks and cupboards, Dad’s striped suit and walls, Mum’s dotted dress; then confronted with the exuberant greenery and uniqueness of the garden. The design was made with great care (the manager of the puppetry workshop is Małgorzata Drązikowska); the flowers, trees and grass are sculptures made of colourful canvases. They are beautiful, their texture is eye-catching, yet they lack plush sweetness. Insects are a bit reminiscent of Józef Wilkoń’s bestiarium, in which creatures were not made of wood or metal, but of textiles (...).
In 2010 Biziuk and Magda Fertacz wrote the play White Balloons for the Pinokio Theatre in Łódź, inviting children and parents for a serious conversation on difficult topics: loneliness, the suffering caused by the loss of a parent, escape into a fantasy world. As a director, she also explored questions of faith, friendship, love and tolerance in the adaptation of Meet at the Ark at Eight by the German playwright Ulrich Hub. This is how she explained her choice to the qlturka.pl portal:
Such interesting texts for children, full of spontaneous and funny dialogues and serious existential themes are rare. In this case, the work is completely devoid of annoying didacticism. Hub’s art is a great challenge for me. He addresses topics, which are difficult not only for children, but also for adults, for example, whether free will gives us the right to oppose God’s commandments. The story makes us reflect on what the duties of friendship and loyalty are.
Agata Biziuk directed the monodrama Rat starring Rafał Hajdukiewicz, as well as the fairy tale Odds and Ends in the Pleciuga Puppet Theatre in Szczecin, after which the critics announced the birth of a great director’ talent. The long list of performances for children includes Bugs, or environmental education in the Puppet and Actor Theatre Kubuś in Kielce, What’s up? about the fight against boredom in Warsaw’s Puppet Theatre, and the latest Space Affair, a witty story about what is most important. About friendship and feelings, which the world could do without and would be more organised, but without which it would also be too boring and sad, reads the website of the Kubuś Theatre.
Experiment, exchange, metaphor, team spirit – these are the characteristics of the Informal Group Avis, founded in 2007 on the initiative of Biziuk, uniting graduates of acting, directing and puppetry from Białystok and the Łódź Film School. It is a fusion of talent, energy and personality; a team that values dialogue with the actor and emotions, and combines different theatrical experiences and methods of working.
Every performance is the outcome of such a meeting, a joint experiment, aimed at posing as many questions as possible about the chosen topic (as a starting point for further work.
– write the artists about themselves.
They have made several plays together, including the already mentioned Cuckoo, the musical Prometheus, the monodrama Medium of Common Things and Horror Vacui, a story with an atmosphere of absurdity, using theatre of forms and movement. This, as we read, is a surreal vision showing an extreme view on reality. The performance, which was created in co-production with Teatr Nowy in Łódź, was met with acclaim. ‘Unusual’, ‘original’, ‘deeply moving show tailored to our times’ – complimented the critics, and Monika Wasilewska from Gazeta Wyborcza in Łódź wrote that:
The text would not be very different from the banal contemporary Polish plays, if it was not for Biziuk’s consistency in avoiding literalism. Horror Vacui is exempt from the duty of representing reality thanks to the skillfully incorporated macabre elements. The stormy discussion about sex is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a pale frail woman who says that she is Death. Her unexpected presence, marked by disturbing pulsating music, stiffens everyone with horror. It does not match anything; it is disturbing, absurd and unbelievable. Just as the presence of Death in our busy, prosaic everyday life.
Sources: nieformalna.com, teatrdlawas.pl, Gazeta Wyborcza, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, March 2015