A Polish-French theatre director, translator and graduate of literature studies at the Paris-Sorbonne University. In 2016, she was nominated for creating intimate and empathetic theatre in which she deals with commonly marginalized topics.
A Polish-French theatre director, translator and graduate of literature studies at the Paris-Sorbonne University.
Anna Smolar (1980) is one of the most talented artists of the new generation in contemporary Polish theatre. She has already assisted Krystian Lupa, Jacques Lassalle and Andrzej Seweryn, while, in terms of film, she has also collaborated with Agnieszka Holland. She works in France and Poland. In 2001 in Paris, she created the group La compagnie Gochka where she adapted Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Pierre Marivaux's The Island of Slaves and Armanda Llamas' Sextuor Banquet. In Poland, she has been directing for a decade, having collaborated with theatres in Warsaw, Katowice, Wrocław, Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Kraków and Opole where she directed a dozen or so performances, including Paul Claudel's The Change, Jarosław Abramow-Newerly's Maestro, Joëla Pommerat's Cendrillon, Richard Shannon's Lady of Burma and Albert Camus' The Stranger.
She has also created performances for children. Bullerby is a theatrical lesson on ecology hidden in a story about contemporary children fascinated with Astrid Lindgren's legendary book and dreaming about a journey to real forest. The scenography is built with trashes, bottles, cans and foils. Smolar has also made a modern version of the fabulous Pinocchio who, in her interpretation, is no longer a well-behaving boy. He is an outsider and rebel who lusts for freedom; despite being far from perfection, he is truly independent. The play directed by Magdalena Cielecka and Maciej Stuhr in Nowy Theatre in Warsaw received positive reviews, having been listed among the most interesting plays of 2014.
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Her next play Jewish Actors (staged at Żydowski Theatre) was spotted and reviewed warmly by the critics. The play won the main prize for the best play at the 51st Small Theatre Forms Festival and the acting prize at the 56th Theatre Meetings in Kalisz. Jewish Actors are kept in the form of mockumentary. The actors perform under their real names, lending them to the protagonists whose characters are based on actor's own biographies joined together with friends' experiences and fictional occurrences. Witold Mrożek reviewed the play in 'Gazeta Wyborcza':
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Anna Smolar and Michał Buszewicz have done a solid work in the greatest reportage style as the narration about the protagonists is richly developed and founded on empathy. In the story, we find a fascinating image of an unjustifiably forgotten place which is not a museum, nor an exotic curiosum but a theatre with potential and a place where not everything can be said (as in all institutions). It is not only an important remark about Żydowski Theatre but about theatre in general.
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Dybuk by Anna Smolar, photo: Monika Stolarska/ Teatr Polski w Bydgoszczy
Another important play directed by Smolar is Dybuk at Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz which clashes Szymon Anski's drama with the here and now. The director explained:
We talk about mysticism as a sign of loneliness of contemporary humans but also of something which is impossible to be performed on stage. We talk about conscience and humans entangled in group relations, being in effect obliged to each other and stuck in their relations.
Dybuk is recognized as the best play in her up-to-date career. It was awarded at the 22nd Polish Competition at the Polish Contemporary Art Exhibition.
Smolar's play was also possible to be seen in the Copernicus Science Centre where the artist retold the story of the famous Henrietta Lacks. Her last spectacle was inspired by Małgorzata Halber's Najgorszy człowiek na świecie (The Worst Man on Earth), the director faced there the taboo of female alcoholism. In interviews, she underlines that every performance serves for her as a talk with the audience.
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My most recent performances have documentary character. I am interested in what happens when an actor starts his work with meeting living human, when a play is built upon what is real and what drives our community here and now. I see an acting troupe as a mirror of the community. I encourage actors to co-write scripts. I am interested in their opinion, sensitiveness and word choice. We seek for tools and personal language that would invite for dialogue.
polish theatre directors
polish contemporary theatre
the worst man on earth
In December 2017, she presented Ośrodek Wypoczynkowy (Recreation Centre) in Komuna Warszawa. The actors played visitors to a health resort trying to avoid unpleasantness and meddling in other people’s life.
The play was financed by a crowdfunding campaign. The director questioned the purpose of activism, protests and citizen control, and she posed the question of how far contesting politics can go.
Then, in the 2018/2019 theatrical season, she presented the dance performance Thriller, a collaboration with Paweł Sakowicz and Sonia Roszczuk. The performance was dedicated to teenagers over 13, and it revolved around the idea of perception and experiencing the world. The artist tried to show excerpts from our daily lives with a strong focus on the human body. Thriller had a hybridlike character, it connected dance performance and theatre play. Sakowicz explained that ‘there are not many dance performances for the young around’.
Source: Teatr Żydowski, Tygodnik Polityka, Gazeta Wyborcza, combined by AL
Author: Anna Legierska, December 2016, translated by AW, January 2017. Updated by OT, April 2019.