Born in 1965, Szkotak is the founder, director, actor and stage director at the Biuro Podróży in Poznań.
Founder, director, actor and stage director at the Biuro Podróży (Travel Bureau) Theatre in Poznań.
In 1991, he graduated from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan).He has put on the following performances: Einmal ist keinmal (1988), Łagodny koniec śmierci / Death's Gentle End (1990), Giordano (1992), Carmen funebre (1994), Nie wszyscy sa z nas / Not All Are of Us (1997), Pijcie ocet panowie / Drink Vinegar, Gentlemen (1998), Selenauci (1999), Żyłem sobie po cichutku / I Used to Keep to Myself (1999), Pod drzwiami / At the Door (2000), Millenium Mysteries (2000), Rekopis Alfonsa van Wordena / The Manuscript of Alfonso van Worden (2001).
The Biuro Podróży theatre, founded by Szkotak in 1988, is one of the most interesting alternative theatres in Poland. The name itself conjures up a journey, one which is both real and metaphorical, as it is an agency for travels not only through the real-life world, but above all through the world of imagination. The visual arts are Szkotak's main source of inspiration – painting and sculpture – but also political and social events. "Szkotak touches upon the most sensitive issues of the past century in his productions, such as war, attitudes toward faith, the responsibility of science and learning, all of which will not fade with the new millennium, but will continue to determine the shape of the world we live in." (Roman Pawlowski, "Dialog - Wroclaw" / "Dialogue – Wroclaw", catalogue of the First International Theatre Festival in Wroclaw, 8-14 October 2001).
Travel Agency is, not surprisingly, a touring theatre, which looks for its audiences both in large cities and small towns alike. It draws on the experience of street theatre, circus, and early twentieth century avant garde. The theatre has its own distinctive language and a clear, unique message. It is one of the few alternative theatres that has survived the changes in Poland during the 1990s, proving able to function in these new conditions.
In its explorations, the theatre draws on the experience of Wroclaw's Teatr Laboratorium (Theatre Laboratory), Lublin's "Gardzienice" and Poznan's Teatr Osmego Dnia (Eighth Day Theatre), using physical training and improvisation in their work. The space they work in – whether square, street or an open air theatre – determines how they act. In these conditions, words are replaced by very clear movements, gestures, signs and symbols. Psychological nuances are conveyed via metaphoric means that everyone can understand.
All the productions are developed according to Pawel Szkotak's ideas and scripts. He and the rest of the group work out the script, and select the costumes and props. The theatre also has the highest stilts in Europe, which the actors use masterfully.
The following impressive open-air productions helped bring the Travel Agency theatre into the limelight: Giordano (1992), about the life and tragic death of the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, sentenced to death for heresy (Andrzej Rzepecki, who has since passed away, was extremely suggestive and convincing as Giordano); Carmen Funebre (1994), which was showered with awards at festivals, had as its inspiration the ethnic conflicts and war in Bosnia. ("I do not recall any performance emanating such an almost religious power, creating the tangible feeling of a mutual and bitter catharsis", wrote a Scottish critic; Selenauci (1999), inspired by the prose of Jules Verne, was the story of the end of the dreams that humanity had in connection with technical progress; Millennium Mysteries (2000) came into being in cooperation with the Belgrade Theatre from Coventry and were an allusion to Easter celebrations that depict the life and passion of Christ; The Manuscript of Alfons van Worden (2001) is loosely based on Jan Potocki's eighteenth century story. One critic wrote: "these performances, although they take place over a long time, form a whole, which can be called a modern mystery play, which are characterised by their strong visuals and highly expressive actors."
The following plays were conceived with a somewhat different style, and a closed, more intimate space in mind: Pijcie ocet panowie / Drink Vinegar, Gentlemen (1998), the result of a Russian poetic circle's fascination with poetry, the "oberyuts", active in the 1920s; Nie wszyscy są z nas / Not All Are of Us (1997), a modern mystery play in which the thieves of a church's statue of Christ are severely punished. Pawel Szkotak has also had experience with traditional theatre. In 2000, he directed Pod drzwiami / At the Door (2000), by Wolfgang Borchert, at Wroclaw's Contemporary Theatre. "Lately, however, especially in the plays that are put on in closed spaces, one can observe techniques used by Szkotak that are far from 'alternative' means of expression: quiet, gentle irony, melancholy jokes, bitterness and sadness. His plays inspire viewers to reflect, rather than revolt." (Jacek Sieradzki, "Polityka", no. 21, 20 May 2000).
Pawel Szkotak is fascinated by the fleetingness of theatre, by its delicate and ethereal nature. He paraphrases a line from a poem by Father Jan Twardowski to describe this quality: "...let us hurry to love the theatre, because it will quickly pass. It will remain only in recordings, photographs. Theatre cannot outlive us and pictures, sculptures and music - remain..." (Teatr, no. 7-8, 2001).
Important individual awards:
- 1991 – Award of the City of Poznan
- 1992 – Young Art Medal
- 1992 – First prize for his directing of the play Giordano at the Łódź Theatre Encounters
Collective awards for the Biuro Podrozy (Travel Agency) Theatre:
- 1989 – First Prize at the Polish National Festival of Young Theatre - Start
- 1995 - Fringe First and the Critic's Award at the Edinburgh International Festival, for the play Carmen Funebre
- 2001 – Award for Best Scenography at the Festival of Experimental Theatre in Cairo