A scenographer. Born on December 4, 1952 in Krakow.
Barbara Hanicka is a pupil of Lidia and Jerzy Skarzyński. In 1977, she graduated with a degree in interior architectural design, and three years later also graduated from the Scenography Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.
In 1984, Jerzy Grzegorzewski "discovered" her, and she began working full-time with him, first in the Teatr Studio, and later in Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre). Working with the director as a team, she creates the autonomous, original character and dream-like poetics of the performances. She has done the scenography for Tadeusz łapka / The Trap (1984); Powolne ciemnienie malowideł / The Slow Darkening of Paintings, based on Under the Volcano (Polish trans., Pod wulkanem) by Malcolm Lowry (1985); Bertolt Brecht's Three Penny Opera (Polish trans., Opera za trzy grosze) (1986); Dziesięć portretów z czajką w tle / Ten Portraits with a Seagull in the Background, based on plays by Anton Chekhov (1990); Usta milczą dusza śpiewa, based on operettas by Franz Lehar and Emmerich Kalman (1988); and La Boheme (1995). The scripts of the last two productions were written by Grzegorzewski himself, and were Hanicka's biggest successes of the last two decades. In Grzegorzewski's theatre,
"the concept of the freedom of staging became very important to her, because it is what once again united the fragmented pieces of the plays (...), providing unconventional and risky interpretations." (Katarzyna Fazan, "Szkic do portretu Barbary Hanickiej czyli od Grzegorzewskiego do Jarzyny", "Teatr", no. 1/2001)
The theatrical space constructed by Hanicka is full of elements characteristic of Grzegorzewski's productions, the props which "inhabit" his theatrical world: machines, wagons, the cases of grand pianos, glider wings and streetcar pantographs. Hanicka is able to work in various styles with ease: pastiche, parables, historical stylization and irony. Her imagination plays a special role in Grzegorzewski's theatre by stressing the "artificiality" and "autothematic" nature of the world being created on the stage. Her most interesting recent work includes scenography for Witold Gombrowicz's Ślub / The Marriage (1998) and Operetka / Operetta (2000); the costumes for Wesele / The Wedding (2000) and scenography for Stanisław Wyspiański's Sędziowie / The Judges (1999), all of which she did for the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre).
The work of Barbara Hanicka stands out among that of other scenographers of her generation, distinguished by her excellent sense of the style of other periods. This is readily apparent in her costume designs in the style of the Spanish "Golden Age" for Tadeusz Bradecki's Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie / Manuscript Found in Saragossa (1992) at Krakow's Stary Teatr, and Saragossa (1998) for Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) (both based on Jan Potocki's prose).
For the last few years, Hanicka has also been working with Grzegorz Jarzyna, one of the most critically acclaimed young directors. They first worked together on the staging of Bzik Tropikalny / Tropical Craze (1997), based on the plays of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, at the Teatr Rozmaitosci in Warsaw. Her scenography emphasised the grotesque character of the production and its sensual atmosphere. Her modern scenography for Brad Fraser's Unidentiefied Human Remains and True Nature of Love (Polish trans., Niezidentyfikowane szczątki ludzkie i prawdziwa natura miłości) (1998) at Warsaw's Teatr Dramatyczny was noticed and appreciated for the intelligent understanding of pop culture she exhibited. The audience, closely seated in seats that were located on the stage itself, had the opportunity to watch-or rather "spy on" - the intimate lives of the characters from up close. Her unusual scenography for the production of Witold Gombrowicz's Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda / Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy (1997) at Krakow's Stary Teatr, which created the dreamlike and almost nightmarish world of the court, won her a prize at the Opole Theatrical Encounters - Polish Classics.
Barbara Hanicka has been able to reconcile her own "scenographic language" with her ideal intuitional interpretation of the director's own concepts. She has done over seventy set designs to her credit, among those for Wojciech Misuira's Teatr Ekspresji (Expression Theatre) and many designs for Television Playhouse (Teatr Telewizji).
Most significant awards:
- 1993 - award for her costumes for Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie / Manuscript Found in Saragossa at Krakow's Stary Teatr at the Opole Theatrical Encounters
- 1997 - award for the scenography for Bzik tropikalny / Tropical Craze at Warsaw's Teatr Rozmaitości (Variety Theatre) at the Opole Theatrical Encounters
- 2000 - award for her scenography for Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda / Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy at Krakow's Stary Teatr at the Opole Theatrical Encounters
- 2002 - award for her scenography for Jan Gabriel Borkman at Theatre in Gdańsk
- 2006 - award for her art direction for Auto da fé Elias Canetti, at Krakow's Stary Teatr at the Opole Theatrical Encounters, the first National Competition for Theatrical reenactment of Historical Works of European Literature in Warsaw
Prepared in August 2002.
Updated in November 2010.