Stanisława Celińska is a theatre and film actress, born on 29th April 1947.
Theatre and film actress.
Table of contents: From Debut to Cannes | Stage Career | TV and Radio Theatre | Tremendous Flexibility in Acting | Invitation from Warlikowski | Singing for Warsaw | Awards
From Debut to Cannes
Graduate of the Acting Department of the State Higher School of Theatre (currently the Theatre Academy) in Warsaw (1969). Studied under Ryszarda Hanin. Prior to graduating, Celińska made her acting debut as Aniela in Aleksander Fredro's Wielki Człowiek do Małych Interesów / A Great Man for Small Matters, which was directed by Jerzy Kreczmar and premiered on 21st December 1968 at Warsaw's Contemporary Theatre (Teatr Współczesny). Shortly thereafter, Erwin Axer, the director of the theatre, invited Celińska to join the theatre's company as a permanent member. Her stage and screen debuts occurred almost simultaneously, as her film career began immediately after she graduated.
She was noticed by Andrzej Wajda who cast her as Nina in his 1970 film Krajobrazie Po Bitwie / Landscape After Battle. In the film, she played a young Jewish woman condemned to a lonely, drifting life after the death of her loved ones. Famed Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski played opposite her as Tadeusz. Wajda's film proved immensely successful at Cannes, and Celińska gathered excellent reviews for her portrayal of Nina. In this role, she proved herself capable of drawing on a variety of means of expression. She played Nina ambiguously, portraying her as a lonely girl who strives to camouflage herself in her environment. Although aggressive, the character was, at a deeper level, highly sensitive. Nina, as portrayed by Celińska, closed herself off from the world, though at the same time she desired honestly and deeply to enter into relationships with people.
Many years later Celińska would recall this time:
I started superbly. In 1969, Erwin Axer invited me to join the Contemporary Theatre, which was filled with superb actors. (...) I played Akulina in Tolstoy's 'Potęga Ciemności' / 'The Power of Darkness'. I asked Axer how I was supposed to play the part. He answered, 'I don't know, but you'll manage on your own.' After one of the performances, I overheard him praising me. I refused to eavesdrop to the end and ran out of the theatre. Following the screening of 'Landscape After Battle' at Cannes, some critics wrote that I should get an award alongside Monica Vitti. Why? – I thought in panic. I don't know how to act yet. Shortly thereafter I won an award at the Festival of Polish Songs in Opole for a performance of 'Ptakom Podobni' / 'Bird-Like'.
After: Przemysław Szubartowicz, Trybuna, 1-2.04.2000
Celińska was a member of the company at Warsaw's Contemporary Theatre for five years (1969-1974). During her tenure there she played a number of roles, including Zofia Plejtus in Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz's Matka / Mother, directed by Erwin Axer (premiered June 20, 1970). In the production, Celińska played alongside such renowned actors as Halina Mikołajska, Barbara Krafftowna, and Jan Englert. She garnered significant recognition for her performance and soon thereafter Erwin Axer entrusted to her the role of Akulina in Leo Tolstoy's Potega Ciemności / The Power of Darkness (premiered on July 8, 1971). In theatre, Celińska also worked with Zygmunt Hübner, who cast her in the title role in Ireneusz Iredynski's Sama Słodycz / Pure Sweetness (premiered February 16, 1973). In Eugene O-Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, also directed by Zygmunt Hübner, she appeared in the role of Cathleen (premiered on September 5, 1973), while in Edward Bond's Lear, directed by Erwin Axer, she played Fontanella (premiered on March 2, 1974). In 1973 Celińska co-directed Ireneusz Iredyński's Dokąd / Where To with Andrzej Mrowiec at the Students' Satirical Theatre (Studencki Teatr Satyryków). In 1976 Celińska volunteered to become a member of the company at the newly opened Wola Theatre (Teatr na Woli) in Warsaw, managed by the renowned Tadeusz Lomnicki. There she created a number of excellent roles, including that of the Daughter-in-Law in Wcześniak / Premature by Edward Redliński, directed by Janusz Zaorski (premiered on March 11, 1977). In the 1980s she appeared, among others, in two Bertolt Brecht productions, playing Lucy Brown in The Threepenny Opera, directed by Ryszard Peryt at Warsaw's Atheneum Theatre (Teatr Ateneum - premiered on February 23, 1980), and Jenny Hill in Mahogany, directed by Krzysztof Zaleski at the Contemporary Theatre (Teatr Współczesny) in Warsaw (premiered on June 24, 1982), by which time she was once again a member of the company at Warsaw's Contemporary Theatre (1981-1983). Between 1983 and 1988 she was a company member at the New Theatre (Teatr Nowy) in Warsaw, where, among others, she appeared in De Profundis, directed by Bohdan Cybulski (premiered on February 15, 1983). Her masterly performance in this one-woman play based on the biblical Book of Job revealed a new facet of Celińska's talent as someone capable of almost mystical ecstasy on stage. In subsequent years Stanisława Celińska was a company member at the Dramatic Theatre (Teatr Dramatyczny) in Warsaw (1989-1990) and the New Theatre (Teatr Nowy) in Poznań (1990-1991). She has been an actor of Warsaw's Studio Theatre since 1995, and throughout this time has worked on a number of occasions with the Rozmaitosci Theatre.
TV and Radio Theatre
Celińska has been working with Polish Radio Theatre since 1969. In 1970 she began her cooperation with Polish Television Theatre, in which she has played almost sixty roles. She has worked, among others, with Lidia Zamkow, Józef Słotwiński, Gustaw Holoubek, Andrzej Łapicki, and Bohdan Korzeniewski. Her debut as a radio theatre actor came with the role of the boy Bill in Thornton Wilder's Childhood, directed by Helena Merenholtz. Celińska appeared in productions from both the classic and contemporary repertoires, including Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, The Enchanted Tailor by Sholem Aleichem, Królowa Mokradel / Queen of the Marshes by Alicja Salczyńska-Bykowska, and Bal Stulecia / Centenary Ball by Andrzej Mularczyk. For the past thirty-five years, she has also played the role of Yvonne in the radio series Matysiakowie / The Matysiaks.
Celińska worked simultaneously in film and theatre. In 1974, four years after her debut in the medium, she once again appeared in film. This time she was cast by Stanisław Bareja as small-town Lucy in Nie Ma Róży Bez Ognia / A Jungle Book of Regulations, a role in which she revealed her talent for comedy. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s she was showered with offers of film roles and played a variety of feature and bit parts. Her work throughout this time showed her to be extremely proficient at supporting character parts like the Baroness in Wojciech Marczewski's made for television film Klucznik / The Steward (1980), the teacher Lewicka in Bareja's television series Alternatywy 4 (1985), a beautiful bit part alongside Wojciech Pszoniak in Andrzej Wajda's Korczak (1990), or the slightly over-the-top cafeteria employee in Łukasz Wyleżałek's Balanga / The Party (1993).
In 1975 she appeared in the role of Agnieszka Niechcicówna in Jerzy Antczak's Noce i Dnie / Nights and Days, wonderfully highlighting the inner maturing of the heroine. At around the same time, Janusz Majewski cast her as Hela in Zaklęte Rewiry / Hotel Pacific. In 1979 she was reunited with film director Andrzej Wajda on the set of his Panny z Wilka / The Maids of Wilko, based on a prose work of the same title by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, in which she played Sophia with incredible clarity, providing a wonderful rendering of the character's cool, distant, yet rational and still-maturing nature.
Tremendous Flexibility in Acting
Her tremendous flexibility as an actor enabled her to play everything from bit parts and comedic roles with great sensitivity and passion, as exemplified by her Gozdziakowa in Roman Załuski's Galimatias, Czyli Kogel-Mogel II / The Hotchpotch, or Kogel-mogel II (1989), to characters who are inwardly focused, simplicity exemplified, subordinate to a metaphysical belief, like the role of Marcelina in Jerzy Łukaszewicz's film titled Faustyna (1994). In turn, the character of the ageing Iza Gęsiareczka (Isabelle the Goose-keeper) in Jerzy Stuhr's Spis cudzołożnic / List of Lovers (1994) as portrayed by Celińska acquired immense warmth and a touch of irony. Speaking about her own way of working, Celińska maintains that she avoids interpreting a role to its end:
Actors should avoid dotting all the i's when building a character. You have to leave characters some space. Sometimes I catch myself – and this relates to my own work as well as that of my colleagues – saying something on stage like: 'You know, that was a good moment.' At that instant it becomes defined, it no longer has the same power, it's no longer from within and it becomes artifice.
Interview conducted by Ewa Gałązka for Gazeta Telewizyjna, August 16-22, 2002
Celińska felt unfulfilled as an actress for many years. She always dreamed of playing the great repertory roles, feeling these to be her vocation:
I feel tremendous power within me, power that needs to be used in some way, perhaps through the creation of a mammoth role that would allow for a thunderous voice, expansive character, powerful movement, and intense focus on the character's problem.
Interview conducted by Robert Cieślak, Głos Szczeciński, June 3-4, 1995
She admitted that she '(...) was envious of Anna Polony, that she met her Swinarski, and I was somehow missing my own' (Interview by Ewa Gałązka, Gazeta Telewizyjna, August 16-22, 2002).
Invitation from Warlikowski
It was during the second half of the 1990s that Celińska offered one of her greatest ever performances on stage. The actress had worked with young generation director Krzysztof Warlikowski for the first time at Warsaw's Studio Theatre, where she played the role of Cecile in his production of Zachodnie Wybrzeże / West Pier by Bernard-Marie Koltes (premiered on October 10, 1998). Later Warlikowski cast her as Gertrude in his production of Shakespeare's Hamlet mounted at Warsaw's Variety Theatre (Teatr Rozmaitości - premiered on October 22, 1999). Celińska's portrayal was both lyrical and dramatic as her Gertrude became a woman caught up in political turmoil and tangled up in her own feelings. Many were surprised by the way the production was cast.
The production is full of surprising ideas, not the least of which is the cast, in which Gertrude is portrayed by Stanisława Celińska. Most readily associated with comedies, in this production Celińska does an excellent job rendering the drama of a woman who is a mother.
Roman Pawłowski, Gazeta Wyborcza, 27.10.1999
Two years later she created her most moving performance as the woman from the peep show in Sarah Kane's Cleansed, directed by Warlikowski at Warsaw's Variety Theatre (premiered on December 15, 2001). In talking about this role, Celińska herself stated that it required:
(...) a combination of skill and incredible emotional depth. It is impossible to portray a wounded soul coldly.
Interview by Ewa Gałązka, Gazeta Telewizyjna, August 16-22, 2002
Celińska demonstrated an unusual side of her talent in this production. Janusz Majcherek wrote:
Apart from its formal beauty, this is a production that includes a personal guarantee and that is why it moves viewers so intensely. This personal investment, even artistic generosity, is something that I see in all the actors (...), however, I was truly stunned by Stanisława Celińska: her performance is not so much generosity as it is sacrifice. I would even go so far as to say that it is a new kind of ultimate act.
Janusz Majcherek, Teatr Monthly, no. 1-2, 2002
Stanisława Celińska has continued to perform brilliantly in Warlikowski's shows staged at the Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw including the part of Trinkulo in Shakespeare's The Tempest (2003), Frida/The Narrator in Dybuk based on a drama by Szymon An-ski and a short story by Hanna Krall (2003), as well as the clear and, at the same time, multidimensional part of Mother in Hanoch Levin's Krum (2005, co-produced with Helena Modrzejewska Narodowy Stary Theatre in Kraków).
And what about Stanisława Celińska? She plays the mothers' Mother, the ultimate Mother, Jacek Wakar commented on her role in Levin's play. At times she is a monstrous mother who expands into gigantic size and sometimes she is small and vulnerable facing death.
Teatr, 2005, No 4/6)
Her recent theatrical roles include Hannah Porter Pitt and Rabbi Isidor Chemelwitz in the acclaimed Tony Kushner's Angels in America directed by Warlikowski (2007, Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw) and Mrs. Grubach in Franz Kafka's Process directed by Maciej Englert at the Współczesny Theatre in Warsaw (2008).
Celińska also performs in feature films and popular TV series. Recently, she has played supporting parts in Maciej Dutkiewicz's action comedy, Fuks / Fluke(1999), Juliusz Machulski's Pieniądze to Wszystko / Money is Everything (2001) and Krzysztof Zanussi's Serce na Dłoni / And a Warm Heart (2008). She played in a comedic role of a woman with cows in an episode Łukasz Karwowski's Południe - Północ / South - North (2006). She also took on supporting roles in Katyń by Andrzej Wajda , in comedy Ryś directed by Stanisław Tym, and in 2008, in the controversial Nieruchomu Poruszyciel / Unmoved Mover directed by Łukasz Barczyk.
In 2010, for the role of caretaker in Feliks Falk's Joanna which portrayed a young woman who during the occupation takes care of an abandoned Jewish girl, she received the Eagle Award - Polish Film Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She also appeared in the historic film 1920: Bitwa Warszawka /1920: Battle of Warsaw directed by Jerzy Hoffman. In 2012, she starred in Zdjęcie/ The Photo, a feature-length motion picture debut by renowned Polish documentary filmmaker Maciej Adamek, as well as in the war film Był Sobie Dzieciak/ The Dance of Death. Scenes from the Warsaw Uprising directed by Leszek Wosiewicz. In 2014 she played in the romantic comedy Warsaw by Night directed by Natalia Koryncka-Gruz, and in 2016 - in Agnieszka Glińska's film debut, the musical #wszystkogra. She sang classic Polish pop songs on screen, but lately, music has become a major part of her work.
Singing for Warsaw
In December 2012, Celińska recorded her first solo album, Nowa Warszawa / New Warsaw. The actress was accompanied by pianist Bartek Wąsik and the Royal String Quartet. The album featured new arrangements of songs by T.Love, Czesław Niemen, Bajm and Kalina Jędrusik, and was released by Nowy Theatre. Well-known Warsaw hits sound completely different in her interpretations. The twelve songs lead listeners from a party at Gnojna Street, through lyrical, heroic and sentimental places in Warsaw. The album includes the musical theme created by David Bowie after his short walk around Warsaw. Celińska commented on the idea behind the album in interview for Wysokie Obcasy:
It was the pianist Bartek Wasik who made all the choices, as he is the author of the musical arrangements. We discussed what I wanted. I love Chopin, I grew up with the piano because my father played it, and Chopin is in my blood. Bartek played some nocturnes and these fragments blended into this record. When I had to say the phrase: 'Warsaw, I love you', I felt it was my album. The theme suited me perfectly. (...) memories trembled. All those emotions that have lived within me like lava just erupted. Warsaw is my family home. The souls of my relatives were revived in me.
New Warsaw received the Gwarancja Kultury/Guarantee of Culture Award bestowed by TVP Kultura. It also received the 2012 Wdechy award in the Event of the Year category, bestowed annually by the editors of Gazeta Wyborcza, and Celińska herself received the 2012 Wdechy from the audience in the category of Man/Woman of the Year.
In 2015, her following album entitled Atramentowa... premiered. She sang, among others, with artists such as Kasia Nosowska and Muniek Staszczyk. The album was a big success and soon sold enough copies to become platinum.
Musicians should be applauded for the arrangements. The jazzy atmosphere (although some moments are also based on other genres), created by instruments such as piano, mandoline, double bass, violin, dulcimer, acordeon and saxophone is a great virtue of Atramentowa. But the biggest star is Stanisława Celińska, even though her voice and musical creation couldn't be further from that of a diva. The voice is sensual, moving, natural.
Wojciech Przylipiak for Dziennik', 08.06.2015
In 2013, Celińska performed in Kabaret Warszawski / Warsaw Cabaret directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski. This role was ranked the best episodic role by Theatre monthly magazine.
Awards and Distinctions:
- 1970 - Łagów, Golden Bunch Award for the part of Nina in Krajobraz po bitwie / Landscape after the War;
- 1977 - Kalisz, the 17th Theatrical Meetings in Kalisz, award for the part of a daughter-in-law in Edward Redliński's Wcześniak / Premature Baby directed by Janusz Zaorski;
- 1978 - Przyjaźń weekly award for the part of Prosecutor in Aleksander Czcheidze's Most / Bridge a Television Theatre performance directed by Olga Lipińska;
- 1982 - 2nd Degree Award of the Polish Radio and Television Committee;
- 1985 - Szczecin, the 20th Small Form Theatres Review, the Minister of Culture and Art Award for a noble manner of poetry interpretation in the show De Profundis directed by Bohdan Cybulski;
- 1986 - Silver Cross of Merit;
- 1993 - The 1st Festival of Polish Television Art Award for the supporting female part in Warsztat - Gala / Workshop-Gala;
- 1994 - Gdańsk, the 19th Polish Film Festival awarded for the part in Spis cudzołożnic / The List of Adulteresses directed by Jerzy Stuhr;
- 1995 - "Prometeusz" Award for stage performances;
- 2001 - "Orzeł" Polish Film Award for the best supporting female part in Juliusz Machulski's film Pieniądze to wszystko / Money is Everything;
- 2001 - Wielki Splendor Polish Radio Theatre Award for outstanding creations in radio dramas and creative contributions into the development and enhancement of the artistic radio in Poland;
- 2001 - Shanghai, International Film Festival, award for the best female part in Pieniądze to wszystko / Money is Everything;
- 2002 - Aleksander Zelwerowicz Prize for the part of a Woman in Sarah Kane's Cleansed directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski; "Warsaw Feliks" for the best supporting female part of a Woman in Sarah Kane's Cleansed directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski in Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw;
- 2003 - Grand Prix for the part of Babuszka in Janusz Głowacki's Czwarta siostra / The Fourth Sister directed by Agnieszka Glińska at Festival of Polish Radio Theatre and Polish Television Theatre Dwa Teatry / Two Theatres in Sopot; Telemaska Award won at the viewers' plebiscite for the most popular actress of Television Theatre organized by Tele Tydzień weekly; Master Diploma awarded by Aleksander Bardini Committee at The 24th Review of Stage Songs in Wrocław ; 4th rank in the TeleRzeczpospolita plebiscite for the most popular actors;
- 2004 - Honorary Award for the part of Mother in Ingmar Villqist's 51 minutes directed by Łukasz Barczyk at Festival of Polish Radio Theatre and Polish Television Theatre Dwa Teatry/ Two Theatres in Sopot;
- 2006 - Przyjaciel Zaczarowanego Ptaszka / A Friend of a Magic Bird statuette at the Festival of a Magic Song in Kraków;
- 2007 - Jury's Awards in the category of the best comedian actress for outstanding performances in Mamuśki / Mummies series at Festival of Good Humour in Gdańsk.
- 2011- Eagle Award for the Berst Supporting Role in Joanna directed by Feliks Falk; Goldem Medal of Merit Gloria Artis
Written in: 2002; updated by: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, December 2008, Updated November 2016.