Considered to be one of the most gifted theatrical creators of the new generation, Borczuch finds his inspiration in Andersen’s tales, Freud’s psychoanalysis, and Goethe’s Novels.
A theatre director born in 1979 in Kraków.
Born June 2nd 1979 in Kraków. A graduate of the Sculpture Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Theatre Directing at the Academy For Dramatic Arts, and a scholar of The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Programme for the most promising young artists from all over the world. Most of his works were presented at the Stary Theatre in Kraków, TR Warszawa, and Polski Theatre in Wrocław.
During his directorial studies he assisted Kazimierz Kutz in the production of On Foot (Pieszo) by Sławomir Mrożek (2003) and worked with Paweł Miśkiewicz on Innocence (Niewina) by Dea Loher (2004), in which he also acted. His first independent work was KOMPOnents by Małgorzata Owsiany, developed in 2004 during the Intermedia Forum Of Theatre, baz@rt. The plays' script is based on Owsiany’s interviews with young drug addicts. In his staging, instead of concentrating on sociological analysis or the ethical issues of addiction, he focused on showing relationships and mechanisms existing inside a small group of close acquaintances which would emerge in disrupted talks, fragmented plot, and actors improvisation.
Borczuch produced Aleksander Fredro’s A Great Man For a Small Business (Wielki Człowiek do Małych Interesów) at the Stary Theatre, in which he played a double role – as director and as a stage designer. He broke this 19th century comedy into pieces by transposing it to the present day and performing it in claustrophobic spaces. Instead of concentrating on the comedic element, he presented Fredro’s characters as mere human beings. His aim was to show people’s awkwardness and faltering relationships.
Similar ideas echoed in his staging of Leonce and Lena by Goerge Büchner at the Warsaw’s Dramatyczny Theatre (2007). He transformed Büchner’s self-deprecatory text concerning his young peers into a pathetic group portrait of youngsters approaching their 20th birthday. His characters desperately try to give meaning to their lives but remain slaves to stereotypes, continuing to unconsciously fall into clichés.
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Lulu, Werter, and Dorian Gray
In the same year, he staged Lulu by Frank Wedekind, a story about a juvenile prostitute. Even though Wedekind’s drama was presented in an uncensored version for the first time, it was not Borczuch’s intention to scandalize with obscenity. Rather, his interpretation was on the border of between comedy and tragedy, where Lulu presented her drama in an almost emotionless, distant way. Anna R. Burzyńska wrote:
The original version of Lulu is surprisingly congruent to today’s reality; Borczuch is, however, trying to transform its journalistic approach into a broader ethical and existential discussion. It concerns one of the most vital topics of the play – paedophilia (…) Borczuch’s play is a deep analysis of sexuality in both, individual and social contexts.
In 2009 at TR Warszawa Borczuch prepared his adaptation of Dorian Gray’s Oscar Wilde. He converted it into a story about pop culture's desire for eternal youth, hedonism, and insane perversion. At the same time, he developed the widely acclaimed version of The Sorrows of Young Werther(Cierpienia młodego Wertera), based on a novel by Goethe at the Stary Theatre in Kraków.
Borczuch is known for his cooperation with the Polski Theatre in Wrocław, where he staged a performance entitled Hans, Dora, and a Wolf (Hans, Dora i Wilk) inspired by Freud’s ideas. His latest production, The Snow Queen (Królowa Śniegu), takes place at a research station in Antarctica, and was presented at the Stallion Riding School ‘Książ’ in Wałbrzych.
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Début at Düsseldorf and Venice
2012 is also the year of Borczuch’s début on the stage of Düsseldorf’s Schauspielhaus, where he produced a play based on The Unwomanly Face Of War, the celebrated novel by Sviatlana Aliaksandrawna Alieksiyevich,.
In October 2012, he was one of seven theatrical artists from all around the world given an opportunity to demonstrate his work in Venice. He presented an excerpt from Apokalipsa, a play that he has been working on for almost a year with his mentor, Patrice Chéreau. It is based on two novels by Oriana Falacci: Falacci Interviews Herself and Apocalypse (Wywiad z Samym Sobą i Apokalipsa) and an unfinished triptych Trilogy Of Death (Trylogia śmierci) by Piero Paolo Pasolini. The première of Apokalipsa is scheduled for the end of the 2013/2014 season at the Stary Theatre in Kraków.
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In March 2015, Borczuch’s adaptation of Goethe’s Faust premiered in Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz. The director explained:
We collaborated on the project with a group of blind people, who worked on the adaptation together with the actors. Faust is more of a literary work than a play that can be performed on a stage. It is a challenge, how one can adapt a play so gigantic, with more than 12 thousand verses and action that spans through centuries? Faust is a play about theatre, and if everything that happens on the stage has a theatrical form, how can we portray its metaphysical aspects? And what if Goethe was being literal – is the poodle a real dog? How does a dog that is possessed by the devil look? How do you depict something that is impossible to depict in theatre?
Additionally, in Dwutygodnik Katarzyna Czeczot remarked:
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Faust shows the mechanism which police women’s sexuality, the way female body is depicted, and the broad category of visuality.
Call of Cthulhu
In March 2017 in Nowy Theatre in Warsaw, Call of Cthulu, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories premiered. The script, written by Tomasz Śpiewak, was inspired by improvisational theatre. The play synopsis stated:
We are waiting in horror for what has to happen. We cannot describe it. You have to experience it yourself.
However, Jacek Wakar wrote:
One won’t find in Call of Cthulu a coherent narrative or traditionally structured roles for the actors. On the stage, the actors play fictional characters but also themselves, enriching the play with their own private experiences. Sometimes it is hard to see the subtle difference when actors are playing characters and when they are being themselves.
The Frogs premiered in May 2018. The script, written by Tomasz Śpiewak, was based on Aristophanes comedies (The Frogs, The Clouds, The Birds), Krzysztof Niemczyk’s novel Kurtyzana i Pisklęta (The Courtesan and the Chicks, editor’s translation) as well as improv. It was the first Borczuch’s play performed in Studio Theatre. The play had excellent cast (Halina Rasiakówna, Ewelina Żak, Krzysztof Zarzecki), and yet its reception was quite controversial. In the end, the play was a testimony of the artistic consistency of Śpiewak and Borczuch. The play was praised by Tomasz Domagała. He wrote:
Śpiewak’s script is very good, and an innovative mixture of Aristophanes’ work and contemporary experiences. He skilfully balances between one and the other, constantly building tension, which is the play’s key element. Śpiewak’s expertise and choice of antique literature, as well as his discipline, are outstanding.
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Just a month after The Frogs, Borczuch presented another play, Black Parrots, inspired by a text by Chilean playwright Alejandro Moreno Jashés. It was produced in Słowacki Theatre in Kraków. The play revolved around the topics of sensuality and mental illness, and was described as ‘an experience’. The Frogs was performed in a space that challenged the division between actors and the audience. In this way, the performance became lyrical and full of metaphors. For this play, Borczuch created a research group of artists from Kraków with personal experience of schizophrenia. The lack of linear narration in the play, aesthetics that borders on camp and sensuality are elements that are ever-present in Borczuch’s projects.
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, February 2008; update: 2019.
Translated by: Wojciech Oleksiak
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