Theatre and television director, professor at the National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre of Łódź, in 1997-2007 head and artistic director of the Studio Theatre in Warsaw. Born in 1957. Regarded among the most talented directors of the younger generation.
Theatre and television director, professor at the National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź.
He graduated from the University of Warsaw with a law degree and received a post-graduate diploma in direction at the National Academy of Theatre in Warsaw. In the 1980s, he directed and acted at the Donotiron Theatre (Teatr Nieprasowac), which he founded. During his studies, he was already assisting Andrzej Wajda in the production of Polish Lesson / Lekcja polskiego at the Common Theatre (Teatr Powszechny) in Warsaw. He graduation project in direction was the staging of Tadeusz Różewicz's The File / Kartotekastarring Tadeusz Łomnicki. He received numerous scholarships, including: the POL-KUL scholarship (1986), the Reuters Scholarship (1995), and the US Department of State Scholarship (2002). He has created over fourty performances so far and most of them were presented at festival and theatrical meetings in Poland and around the world in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Russia, France, Brazil, Lithuania and Hungary.
His official debut was Tom Stoppard's Travesties in the Studio Theatre (Teatr Studyjny) in Lódź. Not long after Travesties he staged Brenton Howard's Hess is Dead in the Kochanowski Theatre (Teatr im. Kochanowskiego) in Opole, and Faustus and Margarita based on Johann Wolfgang Goethe in the Contemporary Theatre (Teatr Współczesny) in Wrocław. In 1992, Brzoza left for Paris for an internship with Peter Brook.
When he returned, he created his first famous and award winning production at the Studio Theatre, Franz Kafka's Transformation. Not long after, he directed Gombrowicz's Crime With Malice Aforethought / Zbrodnia z premedytacją and David Mamet's Bison, both favourably welcomed by critics. In 1996, the successful staging of Peter Handke's The Hour, When we Knew Nothing of Each Other at the Studio Theatre (Teatr Studio) was the reason for Brzoza's nomination for the position of artistic director of the theatre, after Jerzy Grzegorzewski left to the National Theatre (Teatr Narodowy) in 1997. Brzoza intended to create a theatre for his generation, he invited Krzysztof Warlikowski and Grzegorz Jarzyna to collaborate with the theatre.
In an interview for Rzeczpospolita Daily the director said, I will create this theatre (Studio Theatre) for myself and for my friends. Honestly and, I hope, wisely. When there will be good plays staged here, there will be an audience. I don't care about attracting the twenty-something or the teenagers. I want intelligent people, curious of the word and of art, we want to challenge them.
In the Studio Theatre, Brzoza directed two dramas by Peter Turrini, Finally, the End with Jan Peszek and Love at Madagaskar. At the Common Theatre in Warsaw, he staged Ingmar Villqist's Helver's Night / Noc Helvera. It was the first staging of this play in an institutional theatre.
Contemporary plays are Brzoza's favourite scenic material. Even the classical dramas acquire a contemporary dimension. Sophocle's Antigone (1998, Studio Theatre) with Jerzy Radziwiłowicz and Maria Peszek became in Brzoza's production a contemporary tale of the war in Yugoslavia and the impossibility of avoiding violence. Nevertheless, he avoids importunate journalism. He relates to reality outside of the theatre, they analyse and search for universal, timeless mechanisms.
In the Wroclaw production of Transformation, the director, Zbigniew Brzoza, concentrates the audience's attention on the relations between Samsa and his family, but he moves the emphasis from the way Samsa sees his family and their attitude towards him, to an objective report of a gradual, but consequent, pushing of monstrous Gregor out of the world of family life. This change of perspective is caused by the requirements of the theatre, where an internal monologue is transposed to image. Through this transposition Brzoza is interpreting the process of annihilation of Gregor in the family circle. Further scenes change the proportions between the intense presence of Gregor and the household - the father, the mother, the sister and the servants. They are more and more dominating, he is less and less visible. In the story, Kafka stresses that Gregor is more and more exhausted and weak. On the stage he is less and less present, more and more quiet. The culmination comes in the final scene, where a servant clears away Gregor's corpse. (Rafał Bubnicki, Rzeczpospolita Daily)
In 2010 Brzoza directed a tragicomedy, Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones at the Witold Gombrowicz Municipal Thatre / Teatr Miejski im. Witolda Gombrowicza in Gdańsk, later on a a deeply moving play Sprawa operacyjnego rozpoznania written in the beginning of the 20th century by a Polish philosopher and theatrical critic Stanisław Brzozowski at the Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk. Katarzyna Korczak wrote:
What we see is a theatrical collage. Several different forms, theatre languages and the performance language itself overlaps. We receive a conglomerate of a spectacle, a concert, a TV show, documents, film and photo archives. The entire performance is striking and moving, one cannot remain indifferent. ("Portal Pomorza", 31.10.2011)
A year later A Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonagh premiered and in 2014 Brzoza directed award-winning Head Circumference / Obwód głowy, written by Zbigniew Brzoza and Wojtek Zrałek-Kossakowski. Jacek Cieślak writes in his review:
Brzoza uses a documentary form based on a journalistic inquiry to show one of the biggest paradoxes of World War II – the end of the war for naturalized Germans with Polish origin war undoubtly a living hell: coming back to an unwanted fatherland where they had felt alienated for years. We watch children's world torn between a German mutti and a foreign Polish mama, followed by traumas, widowerhood and post-war poverty. (Rzeczpospolita Daily No.99, 29.04.2015)
Brzoza moved to Łódź in 2008 to become a Deputy Artistic Director at the Kazimierz Dejmek Nowy Theatre / Teatr Nowy im. Kazimierza Dejmka. He held the position for two years and managed to invite many renowned Polish directors - Remigiusz Brzyk, Łukasz Kos, Piotr Cieplak and many others to stage their plays in Łódź.
At the same time Brzoza became a lecturer at the Leon Schiler National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre where he taught at the Acting Department at first, but later on he became a professor of the Film and TV Direction Department. The plays created under his tutorship are often recognized at theatre festivals.
Between 2012 and 2016 Zbigniew Brzoza was the artistic director of the Łódź of Four Cultures Festival / Festiwal Łódź Czterech Kultur, joining together Polish, Russian, German and Jewish cultures that used to be significant factors in creating the city of Łódź and its prosperity. The festival is a compilation of artistic and social projects that are to help the youth of the excluded groups, but also it consists of outdoor performances, concerts, and visual installation (such as famous Pasaż Róży / The Rose Arcade by Joanna Rajkowska).
Most important awards:
- 1993 - the Golden Mask for the best direction for Franz Kafka's Transformation;
- 1996 - the Grand Prix for Crime With Malice Aforethought at 36th Kalisz Theatrical Meetings / 36. Kaliskie Spotkania Teatralne; the Golden Mask for the best direction for Crime With Malice Aforethought by Witold Gombrowicz at the Jaracz Theatre in Łódź;
- 1997 – award for direction of Crime With Malice Aforethought at the 8th International Theatre Festival „Na granicy” in Cieszyn / 8. Międzynarodowy Festiwal Teatralny "Na granicy"'
- 2006 - award for the direction of Child's Géza at the 6th Contemporary Drama Festival in Zabrze;
- 2012 – the Golden Mask for the best direction for the diploma performance of the Acting Department Z Różewicza dyplom at the The Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź; The Pomeranian Voivodeship Marshall Award for creating Sprawa operacyjnego rozeznania;
- 2015 – The Zygmunt Duczyński Award for an Artistic Individuality at the Kontrapunkt Festival; the Audience Award of the Rzeczywistość Przedstawiona Festival in Zabrze for Head Circumference / Obwód głowy;
- 2016 – The Krzysztof Zaleski Award for the play Head Circumference / Obwód głowy; the award for the Original Drama at the Two Theatres Festival / Festiwal Dwa Teatry in Sopot for Head Circumference / Obwód głowy.
Prepared: June 2002; updated: August 2016 (ND).