Playwright and director, born in 1960 in Chorzów.
Playwright who toys with various conventions and dramatic forms; the only consistent thing in his work is his incessant experiments with placing characters in different situations.
Ingmar Villqist is a literary pseudonym used by Jarosław Świerszcz, a playwright, art historian, professor at Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts and creator of the non-institutional Kriket theatre in Chorzów. Villqist's plays are clearly marked by psychological influences, and his style of theatrical writing could be described as Scandinavian. Critic Roman Pawłowski wrote in Gazeta Wyborcza:
Actors must love him because he writes dream roles that have many layers, and a past that returns between the characters' pronouncements. He follows the model of Scandinavian classics in his belief that everything of importance already took place before the curtain came up, and what we are watching is only the result of acts that were committed before.
Villqist toys with various conventions and dramatic forms, and the only thing that has not changed in his work is his incessant experiments with placing characters in different situations.
He wrote several plays that are regularly performed in Polish theatres: Oscar and Ruth / Oskar i Ruth, Helver's Night / Noc Helvera and The Anaerobes / Beztlenowce, a cycle of one-act plays. Helver's Night is an expressionist drama about the relationship between Karla, a chaperon, and her charge, the retarded Helver. Helver is fascinated by fascism - not by the ideology, which he is unable to grasp, but by its ostentatious, showy character. In the end he becomes a victim of his own fascination.
Villqist's cycle of one-act plays, The Anaerobes, is also a variation on the theme of private relationships, including homosexual ones. In The Piece of Lard with Fruit an elderly woman fights to dominate a younger one, while "The Anaerobes" documents the disintegration of a relationship between two men, which even their adopted daughter cannot save.
Villqist is currently one of the most popular playwrights in Poland. He conducts workshops for young playwrights at the Centre of Dramaturgy in Poznan, and is also the official playwright of the Polish Theatre in Poznan. He was included in a list of the Theatrical Five for the 21st Century compiled by critic Roman Pawłowski, who remarked,
I am including him because I am convinced of his talent as a playwright. Villqist, in writing about basic emotions - love, hate and the fear of death - may free Polish dramaturgy from the language of the grotesque and the absurd, which dominated 20th-century theatre and introduce us to another way of thinking about man.
The premieres of Villqist's first dramas - The Piece of Lard with Fruit (from the cycle The Anaerobes), Oscar and Ruth and Helver's Night (which is also performed in several other Polish theatres) - were directed by the playwright himself.
A few times he also worked as a director on other authors' plays. He staged his interpretation of Piotr Schmitke's opera Muzeum Histeryczne Mme Eurozy / Histerical Museum of Mme Euroza (2005, Opera Śląska in Bytom), directed the Polish premiere of Jonathan Rent's musical Rent (2006, Teatr Rozrywki in Chorzów) and Stanisław Grochowiak's Lęki poranne / Morning Fears (2007, Teatr Nowy im. Gustawa Morcinka in Zabrze). In Teatr Nowy in Zabrze and Adam Mickiewicz Theatre in Częstochowa he directed Dangerous Liaisons by Christopher Hampton, based on the famous novel by Choderlos de Laclos. In Teatr Bagatela in Kraków he directed One flew over the Coockoo's Nest by Dale Wasserman (2015) and The Bench by Aleksander Gelman (2013).
Villqist's plays have been interpreted by directors such as, among others, Barbara Sass, Łukasz Barczyk, Zbigniew Brzoza, Paweł Łysak, Łukasz Kos and Agnieszka Lipiec-Wróblewska both on stage and in TV Theatre.
Villqist's last theatrical work up to date is Chłopiec z łabędziem / Boy with a Swan, staged in Teatr Śląski in Katowice in 2015. The play was very well received by the critics. As Wiktor Kociński wrote:
I can't remember a play addictive as a drug, which surprises, moves and angers... It remains with the viewer for a long time. Many days after he premiere I still ask myself many questions. I discover something new everyday, sympathizing with one of the characters one day just to change my feelings the next (Śląsk, nr 7, 11.08.2015).
Villqist also works in the cinema. Together with Adam Sikora he co-wrote and co-directed the film Ewa (2011), a story of a woman's strength and fighting poverty, for which they have been awarded with Best First Feature prize in the New Polish Cinema contest at the Era New Horizons film festival in Wrocław.
The poverty in Silesia has often inspired Polish filmmakers. But in the psychological drama by the great cinematographer Adam Sikora and experienced playwritght Ingmar Villqist, a few subjects have probably been touched for the first time. The trauma of a failed marriage for example, the fall of family ethos; the hidden feeling of guilt for the mistakes made due to a difficult life situation. The tone is also different: ostentatiously old fashioned, slowed down on purpose, with no additional attractions such as a nervously moving camera which would make it harder to establish an intimate relationship with the protagonists - wrote Janusz Wróblewski ("Polityka", 21.09.2011).
Their next film project is Love in the City of Gardens (2016).
Source: Adam Mickiewicz Institute; updated by NMR, August 2016.