A director and theatre manager whose work paved the way for modern staging in theatres throughout Poland. Born 9 November 1861 in Medyka near Przemyśl; died 28 September 1915 in Kraków.
A director and theatre manager whose work paved the way for modern staging in theatres throughout Poland.
Pawlikowski graduated from St. Anne's Gymnasium in Kraków and went on to study music in Vienna, Leipzig and Weimar. During these travels he met, among others, Franz Liszt, who advised him to take up stage direction. Pawlikowski initially studied directing under Jocza Savits in Weimar and then interned with Ludwig Chronegk at the famous, reformative Meiningen Court Theatre. At the same time he wrote for the Kraków press and later became permanently affiliated as a theatre and music critic with the daily "Nowa Reforma" ["New Reform"] (1886-1890). He showed a lively interest in theatre issues, especially innovative currents in European theatre. During this time he met Stanisław Koźmian, the reviver of theatre in Kraków. In 1890 he applied for directing position at a Kraków theatre. Turned down, the disappointed Pawlikowski left for Paris, where he did not abandon his passion for theatre and probably completely another internship, this time with Andre Antoine at his Théâtre Libre. In 1892 he returned to Krakow and for a time was the theatre reviewer for the newspaper "Czas" ["Time"].
In 1893 he entered a competition for the position of general manager of the Kraków Municipal Theatre, newly erected on Plac Św. Ducha [Holy Ghost Square]. He emerged victorious and began a directorial tenure spanning six years during which he supplemented the theatre's coffers from his own pocket a number of times. He also personally subsidized actors, financing their travel to other European cities where they could witness new stage practices first hand. Shortly, the new theatre became famous throughout the country. In Krakow, the center of modernist art, there was all at once a theatre that laid the foundations for modern staging in Poland. Pawlikowski had created a theatre that emphasized stage direction, expanded the repertoire with new plays, and modernized acting methods. He built on his experiments at the Municipal Theatre in Lvov, which he managed from 1900 to 1906. Later, in 1908-1909, he was the artistic director of drama for the Lvov stage. During this time he also directed productions at theatres in Lviv and Kraków. Simultaneously, he worked as an editor and journalist, publishing the first-ever Polish-language versions of the works of Edward Gordon Craig, one of the greatest reformers of 20th century theatre, and writing reviews for the "Kurier Lwowski" ["Lvov Courier"].
Pawlikowski's major achievement was the introduction of new western plays to the repertoire. He staged the works of Gerhart Hauptmann, Arthur Schnitzler and Henrik Ibsen, and actually discovered for the Lviv theatre an actor named Karol Adwentowicz, who excelled at portraying Ibsen's characters. Pawlikowski was also first in Poland to stage plays by Henri Becque, Maurice Maeterlinck, Maxim Gorky, George Bernard Shaw, Anton Chekhov and August Strindberg. Among the classics he above all chose to direct works by Shakespeare as well as Moliere, Alfred de Musset, Frederick Schiller and Johann Wolfgang Goethe. He also devoted attention to Polish drama, staging classic plays by Aleksander Fredro, Franciszek Zabłocki, Wojciech Bogusławski and Józef Bliziński and promoting new Polish drama, including the plays of Gabriela Zapolska. He facilitated the stage debuts of writers like Jan August Kisielewski, Tadeusz Rittner and Włodzimierz Perzyński, but hardly abandoned Polish Romantic playwrights, directing plays by Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki and Zygmunt Krasiński. In 1898, while Pawlikowski was its manager, the Municipal Theatre in Kraków premiered Warszawianka / The Varsovienne, Stanisław Wyspiański's debut play. The theatre's ambitious and innovative repertoire choices were accompanied by efforts to perfect the art of directing, usually handled by Pawlikowski or supervised by him when done by actors who devised stagings like Józef Kotarbiński and Ludwik Solski. Pawlikowski was seen as a director who knew how to work with actors and how to encourage them to act more realistically, to take into account observations of life and the social circumstances of the characters they portrayed. Pawlikowski showed a penchant for seeking out new talent, and hired such actors as Antonina Hoffmann, Ludwik Solski, Antoni Siemaszko, Wanda Siemaszkowa, Władysław Roman and Kazimierz Kamiński. The director mounted very interesting productions of Fredro's Śluby panieńskie / Maidens' Vows (1893), Ibsen's The Wild Duck (1894), Kisielewski's W sieci / In The Net (1899), Hauptmann's Hanneles Himmelfahrt (1895), Gabriela Zapolska's Tamten / That One (1898), Gorky's The Lower Depths and Herman Heijermans's The Good Hope.
"Every actor he worked with was delighted by his phenomenal information, his 'promptings'; sometimes one word from him completely clarified the character one was playing," wrote Adam Grzymała-Siedlecki. "(...) In his directorial practice (...) he avoided showing actors how to act and restricted himself to conveying information that would bring them closer to the right concept and the way he wanted them to play a given character or situation" (A. Grzymala-Siedlecki, "Tadeusz Pawlikowski i jego krakowscy aktorzy" [Tadeusz Pawlikowski and His Kraków Actors], Krakow, 1971).
As a director, Pawlikowski shaped all the elements of a production into a harmonious whole. Realistic scenery played an important part in his theatre. Like at the Meiningen Court Theatre, his productions in Kraków and Lviv often featured scenery that included real furniture and props. Settings faithfully reproducing the period of his productions were created with great attention to detail. In staging Maidens' Vows, Pawlikowski ordered scenery in the Empire Style, basing his ideas on interiors dating from the actual time in which the play is set. Earlier, Vows were simply performed in contemporary settings. "He had the appropriate scenery designed," wrote Grzymała-Siedlecki of this production.
"He scoured antique shops for characteristic early 19th century furnishings and trinkets, and he had furniture brought from his native Medyka where there was an Empire Style salon". (A. Grzymała-Siedlecki, "Tadeusz Pawlikowski i jego krakowscy aktorzy," Krakow, 1971)
He was the first stage director in Poland to introduce Meiningen stage principles, and as such was first to create group scenes using many extras. He also used electric lighting effects successfully and with sensitivity. Later, his direction abandoned realism in favor of experimentation in the Symbolist spirit.
In 1913-1915, nearing the end of his life, Pawlikowski once again managed a Kraków theatre that was renamed the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in 1909. He worked there to his death. He did not live to complete his last project, a production of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, September 2006