Leading theatre director and actor. Born on the 3rd of September, 1941 in Zakopane, died on the 5th of November, 2010.
Bogdan Hussakowski, photo: Grażyna Makara/Agencja Gazeta
Bogdan Hussakowski graduated from the Acting Department at the Theatre Academy in Kraków in 1963 and again from the Directing Department at the Theatre Academy in Warsaw in 1967. He made his debut as an actor at the Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw in the role of Jehan in Vojmil Rabadan's Żona Niema / A Mute Wife directed by Stanisław Bugajski in 1963. He gained his first directing experiences at the Stary Theatre Kraków under the management of Zygmunt Hübner during the initial period of Jan Paweł Gawlik's management. There, he directed August Strindberg's The Dance of Death (1967), Federico Garcia Lorca's Yerma (1968), Pedro Calderon's Life is a Dream (1969) and Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz's Król Mięsopust / The King of the Carnival (1970). Hussakowski also directed Samuel Beckett's Play (1972) and Happy Days (1972). He also cooperated with other theatres including the Ludowy Theatre in Nowa Huta, and the Nowy Theatre and Theatre Polski in Poznań.
In the following years, Hussakowski managed two theatres of his own. From 1974 to 1979 he was the general and artistic director of the Jan Kochanowski Theatre in Opole and one of the founders and organizers of the Confrontations Klasyka Polska / Polish Classics festival in Opole.
Hussakowski commented his work as a general director,
In the repertoire we emphasize the great laughter model beginning with Aristophanes and finishing with Gogol. It is a laughter that teaches and sometimes hurts. It is a trend which may be understood as one of the theatre's pillars and which brings together the highest artistic ambitions and popularity (Trybuna Odrzańska, August 26, 1979)
During this time Hussakowski's theatre in Opole hosted many artists such as the directors Tomasz Zygadło, Jerzy Goliński, and Tadeusz Nyczek, the stage designers, Lidia and Jerzy Skarżyński and the musicians Andrzej Zarycki and Czesław Niemen. Hussakowski also directed numerous productions including the spectacular The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1975) and Sny Sindbada Żeglarza / Dreams of Sinbad the Sailor by Bolesław Leśmian (1977). In both productions, the stage design was a dominant element. Hussakowski also directed on the small stage with such works as Stanisław Przybyszewski's Śnieg / Snow (1977) and Ryszard Latko's Tato, Tato Sprawa Się Rypła / Daddy, Daddy, Things Didn't Work Out (1977). At the Opole Theatre Hussakowski returned to the work of Strindberg by directing The Ghost Sonata (1978). During this period Hussakowski primarily focused his interest on Scandinavian and classical drama. He also drew inspiration from many different theatre styles.
Theatre critics Małgorzata Karbowiak and Henryk Pawlak wrote about his work at this time,
Taken into consideration Hussakowski's theatre productions, their common motif seems to be the artist's reflection over the human condition. It all began at Hübner's theatre who often carefully explored what the old text means in the context of the present day, and the consciousness and sensitivity of the modern spectator. Since the meaning has to be conveyed in a form, Hussakowski communicated his theatrical message through the experiences of the theatre of absurd. He used Beckett exactly for the unity of his philosophical content with the avant-garde form (Scena April 3, 1992).
In 1979, Hussakowski started a long-term cooperation with the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź, where he managed as a general and artistic director until 1992. Hussakowski created a theatre with a very high artistic standard and a remarkable and frequently innovative and diverse repertoire.
Małgorzata Karbowiak and Henryk Pawlak observed that "The portrayal of 'The Poles' drew at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre was filled with sarcasm, bitterness and love". They also claimed that Hussakowski "executes a formula of a theatre based on various intellectual ideas and stage aesthetics. All of this (…), however, may amount to a formula of a theatre of an intellectual, social and moral unrest (Scena April 3, 1992).
The theatre in Łódź hosted the productions of Polish classics staged in a contemporary context by numerous directors such as Mikołaj Grabowski's production of Henryk Rzewuski's Pamiętniki Soplicy / The Memoirs of Soplica 1980); Maciej Prus's production of Adam Mickiewicz's Dziady / The Forefathers 1984) and Tadeusz Bradecki's and Aleksander Fredro's Pan Jowialski / Mr Jowialski 1986). The works of Shakespeare, Moliere, Nikolai Gogol, Bertolt Brecht and Jean Genet were also produced at the Jaracz Theatre. Hussakowski had a great talent for selecting an intriguing and original repertoire and he often staged many of the productions himself. He directed a brilliant and deeply poetic performance of Zdziczenie Obyczajów Pośmiertnych / Savagery of Posthumous Habits (1982) that was a premiere of a previously unknown play by Bolesław Leśmian, and a moving production of August Strindberg's Easter (1982).Lech Sokół wrote,
Hussakowski discreetly moves into the background his aim is to let the drama speak. His sensitivity, preciseness and directing skills have received great recognition. His direction of Strindberg's drama was one of the best productions of this playwright's works on the Polish stage (Teatr 1982, No. 9).
Following these productions, he directed a melodrama that had not been produced in the Polish theatre for a long time - Scribe's and Legouve's Adriana Lecouvreur (1985). Joanna Godlewska said,
Hussakowski directed it in an attractive form, which skilfully transformed the dangerously anachronistic and pretentious elements into a conscious and refined theatre play (Najnowsza historia teatru polskiego – wprowadzenie / The Latest History of the Polish Theatre – Introduction, Wrocław 2001).
In addition, Hussakowski produced Witold Gombrowicz's works: Ślub / The Wedding in 1990 and the theatre adaptation of Fedydurke (1986).
As a director and the author of the novel's adaptation, Bogdan Hussakowski was successful in preserving and adapting onto the stage what is most valuable in Ferdydurke, admitted Juliusz Cyperling, "namely, the philosophical message dressed up in a light form and shown with charm, lightness, delicate humour and an adequate amount of irony (Dziennik Łódzki, December 6, 1986).
In 1987, he staged the premiere of Stanisław Wyspiański's Wesele / The Wedding. Henryk Pawlak observed,
Bogdan Hussakowski treated The Wedding quite differently. He proceeded with an exceptional courage. He staged the drama the way it was written. And it turned out that he has re-discovered Wyspiański's masterpiece. It impresses us with its extraordinary and exceptional form of a poetic drama, as well as multi-layered content in which the historical experience pulsates to this day, or probably particularly today, side by side with an up-to-date afterthought (Głos Robotniczy, April 6, 1987).
During his last years at the Łódź Theatre Hussakowski staged Christopher Hampton's Dangerous Liasons (1988), Juliusz Słowacki's Sen Srebrny Salomei / The Silver Dream of Salome (1989) and Moliere's Tartuffe, or the Impostor (1991). In this period, he also directed an intriguing production of Tadeusz Różewicz's Kartoteka / The Card Index at the Kote Marjanishvili Theatre in Tbilisi (1984).
From 1992 to 1999, he held the post of the general and artistic director of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków. During Hussakowski's management of the Słowacki Theatre many leading directors staged their works including Walery Fokin, Mikołaj Grabowski, Waldemar Zawodziński and Jan Peszeko. Hussakowski himself engaged in productions of of 20th century drama including two premieres of American plays: Edward Albee's Three Tall Women (1996) and Eugene O'Neill's Welded (1998), as well as Dancing at Lughnasa, a play by the contemporary Irish playwright Brian Friel (1993) and The Wedding by the Austrian playwright Elias Canetti (1994). He also produced the Polish premiere of Eduardo De Filippo's comedy The Grand Magic (1987). The only classical piece Hussakowski directed at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre was Pierre Corneille's The Comic Illusion (1993).
In recent years, Hussakowski has engaged himself in the production of contemporary drama. The director produced Werner Schwab's Czarujący Korowód / The Round of Pleasure at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź (2000), while at the Polski Theatre in Wrocław he staged Polish contemporary drama including Przemysław Nowakowski's tragicomedy Trzy kobiety wokół mojego łóżka / The Three Women at My Bed (2003). Later, at the Śląski Theatre in Katowice, he directed Peter Nichols's Jeden Dzień / A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2007), a touching drama about a married couple taking care of their daughter who suffers from spastic paralysis and is incapable of an independent existence.
The director reads Nichols's play in a deep and painful manner. He reveals what the characters would like to hide, even from themselves. The emotional bonds between the partners are defined by a mutual unhappiness, as well as an enormous difference between their characters, much greater than it seems at the very beginning (Henryka Wach-Malicka in Polska Dziennik Zachodni 2008, No. 4).
In 2009, the director took on the Marquis de Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom, the manifesto of the principles of libertinism at the Nowy Theatre in Kraków, and the ancient work of Plautus in a modern translation by Ewa Skwara. He also directed Mąż Zdradzony czyli Amfitrion / Amphitryon, or a Betrayed Husband at the Stefan Żeromski Theatre in Kielce in a dynamic production set in a contemporary context with characters familiar from farce.
Starting in the 1960s, Hussakowski has been associated with the Theatre Academy in Kraków. His recent productions staged with the participation of the academy's students included: 4 x Molier / 4 x Moliere (2003), Alexander Vvedensky's Choinka u Iwanowów / Christmas at the Ivanovs (2004) and August Strindberg's A Dream Play (2006).
Hussakowski also directed for the Television Theatre, including the renowned production of August Strindberg's The Creditors (1972). Roman Szydłowski wrote, "Bogdan Hussakowski directed an intelligent performance by focusing on Strindberg's dialogues and their psychological overtones" (Trybuna Ludu, August 7, 1974).
Other productions realized by Hussakowski for television included: Michel de Ghelderode's Escurial (1973), Anton Chekhov's Platonov (1976), Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde (1986) and Elias Canetti's The Wedding (1989). In recent years, the director also produced Michał Bałucki's Sprawa Kobiet / A Woman's Thing (1994) and Jerzy Szaniawski's early play Ewa (1995).
Additionally, Hussakowski produced musical performances based on the classical repertoire including Richard Wagner's Tanhauser, in Wielki Theatre in Łódź, 1980; Charles Gounod's Faust, in Śląska Opera in Bytom, 1992; Mozart's The Magic Flute, in Opera and Operetta in Kraków, 1996, as well as contemporary compositions (including Tadeusz Baird's Jutro / Tomorrow at the Śląska Opera in Bytom, 1972; Edward Bogusławski's Sonata Belzebuba / The Beelzebub Sonata, in Opera in Wrocław, 1977; in Wielki Theatre in Warsaw, 1984, and again in Wielki Theatr in Łódź, 1984. He also directed a television musical film Jutro / Tomorrow based on a Joseph Conrad's short story (1974).
For many years, Hussakowski was also a lecturer at the Ludwik Solski Theatre Academy in Kraków and in 1992 he received the position of professor. He also taught at the Leon Schiller Film School in Łódź.
Major awards and distinctions:
1974 – The Golden Prague Award for the film Jutro / Tomorrow in the category of musical films at the 11th International Television Films Festival in Prague.
1977 – Meritorious Culture Activist; Award for direction of Stanisław Przybyszewski's Śnieg / Snow at the Jan Kochanowski Theatre in Opole at the 3rd Theatre Confrontations in Opole.
1978 – The Silver Cross of Merit.
1983 – The Silver Boat – Friends of Łódź Society Award– for direction of Bolesław Leśmian's Zdziczenie Obyczajów Pośmiertnych / Savagery of Posthumous Habits at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź.
1984 – The Golden Cross of Merit.
1985 – Medal of the 40th Anniversary of the People's Republic of Poland; Meritorious for the Opole Region Distinction; Award of the Director of the Culture and Art Department.
1986 – The Silver Boat – Friends of Łódź Society Award – for direction of Witold Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź.
1987 – The City of Łódź Award for lifetime achievements in the field of directing; 1st Degree Award of Trybuna Ludu for artistic achievements in the field of theatre directing and for contribution to the development of theatre in Opole and Łódź.
1989 – The 1st Degree Award of the Minister of Culture and Art for outstanding achievements in the field of directing; the Silver Boat – Friends of Łódź Society Award - for Christopher Hampton's Dangerous Liaisons at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź, the most interesting performance of the season.
1990 – Award for important interpretations of the Polish classical repertoire at the 16th Theatre Confrontations in Opole.
1992 – The Special Golden Mask – Łódź Theatre Critics' Award– for artistic achievements throughout all theatre seasons spent in Łódź.
Author: Michał Bujanowicz, August 2004.
Updated: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, October 2009. Translated by Katarzyna Różańska, October 2010.