Radosław Rychcik is a theatre director, born in Ciechanów on 1st January, 1981. He graduated from the Polish Literature Department of the University of Warsaw and from the Directing Department of the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School in Kraków. He gained hands-on experience of theatre by assisting Krystian Lupa on Factory 2, inspired by the works of Andy Warhol.
He made his debut at the Old Theatre staging Forma przetrwalnikowa / Form of Survival based on the online journal of Kasia Kostecka, a doctor looking for career success in England. Form... was part of the performance Blogi.pl, which also featured productions by Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik and Szymon Kaczmarek.
Inspired by the philosophy of Roland Barthes, Rychcik adapted the French semiotician’s A Lover's Discourse: Fragments for the stage in 2009 at the Dramatic Theatre in Warsaw. Moreover, in his staging of Bertold Brecht’s Versus. W gęstwinie miast/ Versus. In the Jungle of Cities, Rychcik followed Barthe’s remarks on American wrestling (2008, New Theatre in Kraków). The director tested various conventions: Versus... resembled a show ring; Samotność pól bawełnianych/ In the Solitude of Cotton Fields by Bernard-Marie Koltès (2009, Stefan Żeromski Theatre in Kielce) combined elements of club events and a live concert of the band Natural Born Chillers; in his adaptation of Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (2010, Dramatic Theatre in Warsaw), Rychcik applied some formal ideas from the operas of by Robert Wilson and Peter Greenaway.
The director carefully contrives his performances, employing theatrical means that have a strong emotional impact on the audience. He examines the resilience of the audience, and pushes his actors to their limits. In Fragments..., they had to ’cram their bodies into forms corresponding to the figures of the language, similarly repeatable and conventionalized.’ (Katarzyna Urbaniak, Dziennik Teatralny Warsaw, February 10, 2009).
Likewise in Brecht's drama, Rychcik looked for new forms of acting expression, demanding his actors perform with expressive, exaggerated facial expressions and ‘radical’ corporeality. As Marta Bryś wrote:
The actors’ physical fatigue reaches the limits of their endurance. They sweat, they throw objects at one another, they fight, ignoring the risk of injury, experimenting with the resistance of the body. ( Didaskalia 89/2009).
In Madame Bovary, Joanna Drozda was the embodiment of hysteria in the title role:
Her insatiable, unappeasable Emma wants, above all, unsatisfied desire in the other person. She ends up in an ambiguous prayer-fellatio, a sex-telephone call to God. Nonetheless, even in Him she fails to find the infinite. (Gazeta Wyborcza, April 21, 2010).
– commented Joanna Derkaczew.
Rychcik applied the range of theatrical means explored earlier in his staging of Gustav Morcinek’s Łysek z pokładu Idy / Łysek form Ida Mine (2010). The performance consisted of live music, physically exhausting acting tasks, and above all, typical of his projects, extreme and deliberately-induced emotions on both sides of the ramp. The impression was intensified also by the place where Łysek was staged – under the auspices of the Jerzy Szaniawski Drama Theatre in Walbrzych it was performed in the local Old Mine.
In 2011, the jury of the nationwide competition for staging the works of William Shakespeare recognized Rychcik’s interpretation of Hamlet as the best performance of the season and recommended it for participation in the 15th Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk, where it won the main prize.
The performance is nonchalant, almost infantile, intended to stimulate the senses rather than reflection. This Hamlet does not take revenge for his father. He takes revenge for himself. He had a difficult childhood among wicked caregivers. Adults nurtured immaturity and narcissism in him. The only thing they required was to show them obedience. They failed. All of them will die. (Joanna Derkaczew, Gazeta Wyborcza)
In March 2012, on the stage of the Tadeusz Łomnicki New Theatre in Poznań, Rychcik directed Dwunastu gniewnych ludzi /Twelve Angry Men.
On the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, he directed Powstanie/ Uprising, which was co-produced by the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the Dramatic Theatre in Warsaw.
Working on this production was an absolutely unique experience. Thanks to the co-production of the theatre and the museum we can perform in a very interesting space and at a very special time. The fact that the premiere is held on August 1, the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, is inspiring and obliging to me. Warsaw is still a big graveyard, a town of ghosts who demand remembrance. The very presence on the stage on 1st August is significant. The audience will see the events of those days told through us.
– said the director.
In 2014, Radosław Rychcik used theatre as a medium to speak about racism, exclusion, and the breaking down of divisions. In his interpretation of Mickiewicz's Forefathers' Eve, the Slavic witchcraft and rituals were bravely moved into the world of American popular culture. Gustav Konrad was accompanied by Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. The performance won over the critics and spectators at the Open’er festival, where it was presented before a thousands-strong audience.
Forefathers' Eve staged at the New Theatre in Poznań is, according to critics, the first successful attempt to present Mickiewicz's romantic work from a global perspective. Polityka awarded Radosław Rychcik their Polityka Passport prize for the play. In the jury’s justification we read: ‘For the most factious, shameless and consistent Forefather’s Eve adaptation in the past few years, (…) for a Polish arch-drama in the most unexpected mise-en-scene’.
In 2014 Rychcik directed in Turkey an intimate play titled Aalst as a form of commemorating the six hundredth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Turkey. The play is reminiscent an infamous murder in Belgium and takes the form of an interrogation. The stage is dominated by shadow, and we can only notice two red armchairs and scattered newspapers with remnants of fish on them. There is a dais for the musicians alongside. A pair charged with the murder of their own children is being questioned about their motives. The audience can interfere with a plot that is based on materials from the trial. The play profoundly analyses the psychology of the two child murderers, but does not try to legitimize the pair’s doings. ‘I have written about a fair number of unpleasant and even appalling characters in my stories and plays, but nothing prepared me for the months I have spent in the company of Michael and Cathy Delaney’ were the words that opened the play, which was shown in Warsaw as well.
In 2015 Rychcik created Balladyna based on a tragedy written by Juliusz Słowacki. In this play, which divided critics, Rychcik reinterprets a strory about fighting over territory, a story about crime and punishement with women as main characters. The director places the drama in the World War I reality or right afterward, in the post-war world where women fight for their right to haveown voice in the period dominated by men. Balladyna is also about reconstruction all the people undergo. Andrzej Piątek in his review states:
In Rychcik's Balladyna sincerity emanates from the stage. Rychcik provokes the audience by introducing extras with disabilities, wearing soliders' forms and nurses' robes right from World War I. (…) Years and centuries go by and the world is still cruel, the director tends to say, and he is perfectly right. When submitting to the cruelty of the world, being deluded by consumptionism, we all are in a way handicapped. (Dziennik Teatralny Rzeszów, 17.01.2015)
Another play directed by Rychcik in 2015 was Grażyna written by Adam Mickiewicz. Rychcik tries to capture strong and brave woman who tries to find hier voice on the men's territory just like in Balladyna. His fascination with American pop culture and will to originally reinterpret the Polish classics came back in Rychcik’s following works, e.g. The Talented Mr. Ripley (2015). In Studio Theatre the director decided to analyse one of the greatest literary antihero – Tom Ripley from Mary Patricia Highsmith’s novel. In The Wedding (2016) Rychcik took the audience of the Silesia Theatre in Katowice to the streets of Belfast of the 1970s., hence conjoining Wyspianski’s drama with the history of religious conflicts and social divisions in Ireland. What is the effect? Aneta Kyzioł from Polityka commented:
The play is enjoyable and interesting to watch particularly because the director knows how to surprise and is not afraid to do it. Isia is a pregnant teenage girl who likes to rollerskate, Rachel is a charismatic terrorist with a pistol (the great Barbara Lubos), one of the ghosts is the famous Billy Elliot, whereas an Irish pub of the 1970s is recreated perfectly.
Michał Centkowski from Newsweek reviewed the play less enthusiastically:
The dialogues are funny in the preciseness of their social observations. The painter’s spectre is exchanged for Billy Elliot (Dominik Więcek), Wernyhora is replaced by a boy with a French horn (Michał Zdrzałek), who plays melancholic jazz on a dark street, Piast turns into King Arthur and Jakub Szela becomes William Moore. However, it turns out quickly that the conflicts that drive Wyspianski’s drama do not work in the new settings anymore. Class divisions, ambitions for independence and national myths are replaced by a pub row with a poorly defined religious conflict in the background. Despite the fact that the actors do their best, it is a shame that we do not really know what the fuss is really about.
WESELE TEASER 01 from bobig on Vimeo.
- Audience Fanaberia (Caprice) Award for Solitude of Cotton Fields at 7th International Theatre Fanaberia in Wałbrzych
- Polish Radio PIK Award for Solitude of Cotton Fields at Kontakt International Theatre Festival in Toruń
- Kielce Journalists Award at the competition Dzika Róża (Wild Rose) for the best performance of the 2009/2010 season
- monthly magazine Teraz (Now) Award for Solitude of Cotton Fields
- First Prize at the 13th Interpretacje (Interpretation) Festival of Directing in Katowice for Łysek from Ida Mine
- Dzika Róża Award and Journalists Award for best performance for Hamlet
- Grand Prix at the 39th Polish Classics Theatre Confrontations Polish Classics 2014 for Forefathers' Eve
- Paszport Polityki award for Forefather’s Eve
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, June 2011. Update: July 2012 - LS, August 2014 - AL, February 2016 AW, transl. GS, 06.10.2014