Actor and director; born in 1964 in Warsaw.
Actor and director; born in 1964 in Warsaw.
Miskiewicz graduated from the acting and stage directing departments of the State Higher School of Theatre in Krakow (in 1989 and 1995, respectively). He also obtained a degree in Theatre Studies at the Jagiellonian University. Immediately after graduating, he was hired on as a member of the acting ensemble of Kraków's Stary Teatr (Old Theatre), where he debuted on stage in the role of Alyosha in the first staging of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov directed by Miśkiewicz's former teacher and mentor Krystian Lupa (1990). Miśkiewicz went on to appear in most of Lupa's subsequent productions, playing Ewald Tragy in Malte after Rainer Maria Rilke (1991), the Bank Director in Thomas Bernhard's Kalkwerk (1992), Harry Kohler and the Lieutenant in the first version of Lupa's Lunatycy / The Sleepwalkers after Hermann Broch (1995) and Henry Wendling in the second version (1998).
Pawel Miśkiewicz's most recent performance in the role of Alyosha in Lupa's second rendition of The Brothers Karamazov from 1999 rounds this list off beautifully.
Asked which rendition of Alyosha Karamazov was dearer to him, Miskiewicz answered, "When I entered the theatre, he was the most important person in my life. I was performing with a group of wonderful actors... I shared Alyosha's belief that the desire for truth and beauty guarantees the achievement of truth and beauty in life. I believed that these aims were part of the essence of humanity and a starting point for building relationships with people and a relation to the world. With time, of course, many of these beliefs lost value for me as they did for Alyosha in the second act of our version of 'The Brothers Karamazov'. And just like Alyosha, I probably grew somewhat wiser... Though I remain a bit like I was at the outset, harboring traces of that naivety in spite of disappointments and the compromises that adult life has forced me to accept." ("Teatr" / "Theatre" monthly, no. 4/2001)
As was the case for a number of the Krakow theatre school's graduates, meeting Krystian Lupa proved unusually significant for Pawel Miskiewicz, influencing the entirety of his future professional life. "Above all, meeting Krystian resulted in my adopting a specific view of the world. People are the most important thing in theatre for me, just as they are for him. Productions are built around the experiences of individuals, which I think is none too obvious in contemporary theatre." ("Teatr" / "Theatre" monthly, no. 4/2001) He strives to remain loyal to this worldview, though his road to distinction and originality was far longer and more difficult than that of two of Lupa's other students - Grzegorz Jarzyna and Krzysztof Warlikowski.
"Lupa doesn't teach you how to be a director; instead, he hands you certain practical tools. Everyone gets the same tools. It is an art to use them in your own, individual manner, adapting them to your own sensitivity rather than repeating the methods of others. Miśkiewicz needed a good number of years to understand this principle." (Lukasz Drewniak, "Zedrzec, przypilować, naciąć" / "Rip, Saw, Cut," "Tygodnik Powszechny" / "Popular Weekly," no. 12, March 19, 2000)
He was a member of the troupe of the Teatr Stary (Old Theatre) for eleven years. Considered one of "Lupa's actors," he was rarely cast by other directors. When he stopped enjoying acting and began to work independently as a director, his productions were perceived to be imitations, drawing on the work of others, redundant.
"I was disappointed when the reviews of my first productions were devoted to a greater extent to the roles I played under Lupa and to analyzing his theatre." ("Teatr" / "Theatre" monthly, no. 4/2001)
"In this production, there is too much Krystian Lupa and not enough Miskiewicz. Using music to build tension and playing the inner monologue of the hero over the sound system are very refined tricks, but they do not work without the singular sense of time that Lupa possesses." (Roman Pawlowski, "Gazeta Wyborcza" daily, no. 133, June 8, 2000)
He began directing in 1994. His stagings of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, August Strindberg's Dance of Death, Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler one year later, and Rafal Maciag's Ona / She in 1997 all garnered reviews that were highly reserved if not overtly critical. Miśkiewicz first tasted success with the premiere of his production of Yasmina Reza's comedy entitled Art at the Teatr Polski (Polish Theatre) in Wroclaw (1998). The production was showered with awards. In general, it sought to escape "street humor" and its simplistic formulas.
"Working somewhat against the text, the director of the Wroclaw production has strived to avoid simplistic, superficial comedy and grant the world he presents a more prosaic, normal, life-like dimension. The characters do not exchange jokes as comedians in a cabaret might. The dialogue is less smooth than that, somewhat course, though at times Marc, Serge and Yvan impress with their wit. In brief, just as it is in life." (Agnieszka Fryz-Więcek, "O sztuce (i) przyjaźni" / "On (the) art of (and) friendship, "Przekroj" / "Cross-section" weekly, no. 19, May 10, 1998)
His real breakthrough, however, did not come until his production of Jerzy Łukosz's Powrót / The Return, which he staged at the Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego (Juliusz Słowacki Theatre) in Kraków (1999). Miśkiewicz not only adapted Lukosz's prose for the stage and directed his own adaptation, but he also cast himself in the lead role. The production was convincing, coherent and had an atmosphere that delighted critics and "engaged" the public.
"On stage Miskiewicz has pauses during which he simply stares at his colleagues playing their parts. He looks at them not as an actor who is reacting in the background, but as a director might during rehearsal. That in itself is fascinating. Miskiewicz enters the stage world and simply remains there. He has fused Lupa with Grabowski. Miśkiewicz knows how to examine people and examining them brings him the greatest joy, just as it does Lupa. He gazes to see what they do in their secret spaces, as they travel along, how they behave at dinner. He serves them to us on a plate, caring for the clarity of characterizations. The world is simple and people are basically uncomplicated. However, when the two collide, bedlam, meandering and the anti-obvious are born." (Lukasz Drewniak, "Tygodnik Powszechny" / "Popular Weekly," no. 12, March 19, 2000)
Then came Witold Gombrowicz's Kosmos / Cosmos at the Teatr Współczesny (Contemporary Theatre) in Wroclaw (1999) and Knut Hamsun's Głód / Hunger in the Polish premiere of this novel adapted for the stage at the Teatr Nowy (New Theatre) in Łódź(2000). It turned out at that time that it was in prose rather than in drama that Miskiewicz found what interested him most in the theatre - the drama of contemporary man.
"I value the courage and consistency with which Paweł Miśkiewicz adapts, cuts, processes texts. He stitches them together anew in his own way, freeing them of the meaning they had before and adding new significance. He adapts literature to his own vision of the theatre and to the issues within it that are most interesting to him." (Aleksandra Rembowska, "Ballada o wisniowym sadzie" / "The Ballad of the Cherry Orchard," "Teatr" / "Theatre" monthly, 6/2001)
Critics began to refer to his work as "introverted theatre." His productions were not so much driven by conflict, action, chains of events, as they were by the spiritual experiences of the protagonists. His success was ascribed to his special and original methods of working with actors. In Miskiewicz's productions, actors often surprised audiences with through change, avoidance of the routine, authenticity.
"One's approach to the world and to other people determines one's manner of working with actors... creating characters based on biographical criteria, experiences shared by the character and the actor. As a result, it is important to know the actors, to enter their realities, and to use all that is contained in these realities. In working with an actor, I never begin by analyzing a character, saying 'this person is like this or like that.' We talk about the character and about the individual experiences of the actor. In some way, I remain a prisoner of Realism. I am interested in a theatre that people can identify with. I'm afraid of certain formal solutions, because they come to us from beyond the environment within which we are most comfortable, from beyond the psychology within which I can identify my protagonists' motivations." ("Teatr" / "Theatre" monthly, no. 4/2001)
At the beginning of 2001, as a lecturer at the State Higher School of Theatre in Kraków, Pawel Miśkiewicz worked with fourth-year students to prepare a graduation production composed of sections from six plays by Tadeusz Różewicz. Rare are the occasions on which graduation productions are written up in national newspapers, and even rarer are the occasions when these productions are termed "the most important event of the season." However, this was very much the case this time and the student production eclipsed many of the other plays that premiered that year. "This modest graduation production featuring students of the acting department is perhaps simultaneously the most interesting theatrical utterance this season about the condition of the soul in our times." (Jacek Sieradzki, "Nasze male coś niecoś" / "Our Little Trifle," "Polityka" / "Politics" weekly, no. 16, April 21, 2001) Rajski ogrodek / The Little Garden of Paradise was presented at the Festival of Contemporary European Drama in Budapest in April of 2001 and in August of the same year at the Mittelfest festival in Cividale del Fruli in Italy, after which Italian papers printed especially enthusiastic reviews of the show.
Since the year 2000 Paweł Miśkiewicz has been the artistic director of the Teatr Polski (Polish Theatre) in Wroclaw, considered to be one of the most important theatres in Poland. He will shape the theatre to lie somewhere between the extremes established by two of his directing projects - Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (2001) and The Case of Clara by Dea Loher (2001), two stories of human loneliness that simultaneously can and cannot be compared.
"I treat what I do very personally. Sometimes I even blame myself that there is so little marketing - that being a very trendy word these days - in my thinking about the theatre. I try above all to tap into that which interests me at a given moment, that which pains me, which translates directly into my emotions. I am at the stage now when I have already undergone my initial formation and I have suffered my first wounds. Life has already managed to put me through the grinder. It has forced me to compromise and deprived me of my illusions. It is precisely these kinds of people that I choose to talk about - those who have been stripped of their dreams, are lonely, and seek to protect themselves from pain and disappointment." ("Polityka" / "Politics" weekly, no. 6, February 10, 2001)
- 1995 - Bohdan Korzeniewski Prize, awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Art to the best young directors
- 1999 - Grand Jury Prize of the Third Talia Comedy Festival in Tarnów for the production of Yasmina Reza's Art from the Polish Theatre in Wroclaw
- 2000 - honorable mention in the Polish National Competition for Productions of Contemporary Polish Plays for his production of Jerzy Łukosz's Powrot / The Return at the Teatr im. Słowackiego (Slowacki Theatre) in Krakow
- 2001 - "Paszport" / "Passport" Award, bestowed on Miśkiewicz by "Polityka" / "Politics" weekly for "penetrating readings of twentieth century literature in the theatre"
- 2001 - Award of the Mayor of Łódź for Rajski ogrodek / The Little Garden of Eden, the best production of the 19. Theatre Schools Festival in Łódź
- 2001 - Individual award for direction and group award for the ensemble in the production of Rajski ogródek / The Little Garden of Eden, the graduation production from the State Higher School of Theatre in Krakow, in the 7. National Competition for Productions of Contemporary Polish Plays