Rudolf Zioło was born in 1952 in Olesnica Slaska. After he graduated with a degree in Polish philology from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, he studied at the Leningrad Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinematography in the Directing and Drama Department from 1977-1982.
A theatre director born in 1952 in Oleśnica Śląska.
After he graduated with a degree in Polish philology from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, he studied at the Leningrad Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinematography in the Directing and Drama Department from 1977-1982. There, he was the student of Lev Dodin and Georgii Tovstonogov, and Erwin Axer's assistant during the rehearsals for Thornton Wilder's Our Town / Nasze miasto (1979) in the Tovstonogov's Dramatic Theatre.
In 1982, Ziolo began working in Krakow's Słowacki Theatre. Mikolaj Grabowski, its director at that time, hired him as a programme consultant who would have directing privileges. For his Krakow debut, on 30 June 1983, Zioło chose a lesser-known novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, Heart of a Dog / Psie serce. The reviews were enthusiastic for Zioło and the play, in which the audience look at reality through the eyes of a dog whose has been transplanted with a human brain. "Theatricality (...) [is] linked with psychology, realism becomes improbable, and improbability becomes satire, which takes on the signs of metaphor and protest. Everything takes place supposedly in reality, just like in reality, but the stylistics of this play is a synthesis of various theatrical techniques - grotesque and lyricism, humour and journalism, comedy and pathos. Zioło achieves this through actors with a rare ability and with an unflagging sense of anything that is false." (Bozena Winnicka "Zycie Literackie", no. 45/1983)
The next shows - Fyodor Sologub's The Little Demon / Maly bies (1985) and Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz's They / Oni (1985) confirmed that Rudolf Ziolo "very masterfully shows a sick, degenerate world that is consumed by fear and a sense of threat. He also presents a great social and political crisis, showing it through the prism of personal experiences." (Grzegorz Niziolek).
After four years in Słowacki Teatr, Rudolf Zioło was a full-time director at Krakow's Stary Teatr from 1986 to 1998. There, he directed the famous production of Bruno Schulz's Republic of Dreams / Republika marzen (1987), William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (1992) and Mykola Kulish's Reformer / Reformator (1995). In collaboration with outstanding actors, he managed to create productions of unusual strength and theatrical appeal.
Republic of Dreams / Republika marzen and Midsummer Night's Dream demarcate the scope of this director's subject matter and interests. Zioło does not like to speak of "his" theatre, he does not make any declarations, nor does he explain his work. He believes that theatre must speak for itself. If the mission of the artist is not apparent, this means that he has failed. Zioło defines what attracts him to directing: the opportunity it provides to "understand reality, describe the world, understand..." He does not search for that knowledge about the world in the texts of contemporary authors, however. Other than the prose of Jerzy Pilch (Other Pleasures / Inne rozkosze in Television Playhouse in 1999, and in Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny in 2000), Zioło's magical world is inhabited by the heroes of the classics, from Romanticism to the early twentieth century. He has returned to some works more than once (They / Oni, Heart of a Dog, Midsummer Nigth's Dream, Uncle Vanya), finding new variations of interpretation with new actors. Rudolf Ziolo's theatre is "a confession of faith in the art. Even when it shows signs of being in decline, even of being decadent, it can still draw strength from itself, being the point of reference for itself. Because in art (in theatre), thanks to illusion, the truth can be reached, and reality is ruled by lies and falsehood. In the end, beauty, a sign of human dreams and creative imagination, is something more real than what surrounds us from day to day." (Beata Guczalska, "Teatr", no. 6/1992).
He is called a poet of the theatre, a metaphysical artist. Through his productions, answers to existential questions are sought, though seeking does not necessarily mean finding yet: "The success of a theatre is not measured by the polite praise of the critics or by the number of awards at festivals, but by its intellectual intensity. Theatre should irritate, provoke opposition, pose difficult questions and provoke bitter answers." ("Rzeczpospolita", 29 Aug 1996).
Rudolf Zioło's productions take a long time to come into the world, as he himself says, because of the "midwifery" involved. The choice of subject and clearly defined problem give them a determined, recognisable shape, a strong personality and a very special atmosphere. They are free of any fashionable effects, or cheap attractions. The physical staging of his productions (which are usually done with the scenographer Andrzej Witkowski and the composer Stanislaw Radwan), their external and internal appearance, sometimes very realistic, at other times ascetic and gloomy, their special climate and rhythm are actually "unmodern". They are not the result of wanting to appeal to the audience, but they result from the discovery of meaning, from a thorough reading of the text. On stage, we usually see a space "twisted around consciousness", creating models of man's two worlds - the realistic one, and the spiritual one. There is great diversity in the staging of his productions, whose stages are full of order and harmony; it is the chaos surrounding the stage that the protagonists grapple with.
Since 1998, Zioło has been with Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny troupe. He has also been on the faculty at the directing department at Krakow's Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Asked what he considers to be the most important thing in theatre, Zioło answered: "The fascination, which means that theatre can be an essay about man, the world, ponderings on people's taste, that it can be a polemic, or a reflection on the dwarfing of the intellectuals, and it can speak of torpidity and the immunity to poetry, dreams..."
Most significant awards:
- 1987 - Leon Schiller Award
- 1988 - distinction for his direction of Bruno Schulz's Republic of Dreams / Republika marzen in Krakow's Stary Teatr, at the Opole Theatrical Confrontations
- 1989 - second prize for his direction of Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog / Psie serce at Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny, at the Opole Theatrical Confrontations
- 1997 - award from the Theatrum Gedanense in the competition for best staging of William Shakespeare's plays, for The Tempest / Burza at Krakow's Stary Teatr