"The Seagull' flies from Podlasie to Leipzig to celebrate five days of Polish theatre at the "Cześć! Polnisches Theaterfest". The event kicks off July 21 with the fascinating "Toporland" production performed by Unia Teatr Niemożliwy. The event features other award-winning performances, such as Teatr Figur's "The Smell of Elephants after the Rain" and Kompania Doomsday's adaptation of "The Seagull"...
"Seagull"; photo: Bartek Warzecha, Michael Vogel / Kompania Doomsday
"The Seagull' flies from Podlasie to Leipzig to celebrate five days of Polish theatre at the Cześć! Polnisches Theaterfest. The festival kicks off July 21 with a fascinating performance of "Toporland" from Warsaw's Unia Teatr Niemożliwy
Leipzig is home to this month's review of the most innovative theatre performances by Polish troupes. The event features award-winning performances, such as Unia Teatr Niemożliwy's Toporland
(Warsaw) and Kompania Doomsday's adaptation of Chekhov's Seagull (Białystok).
The "Doomsday" group, under the vibrant direction of Hendrik Mannes, strives to create animated and innovative forms of modern theatre and works within the former tradition of exhibiting classic Russian productions. Its adaptation of the Chekhov drama brings a new twist to this theatre classic.
Nina (to Trigorin): Strange play, isn't it?
Trigorin: I didn't understand a thing. I enjoyed watching it though... You performed so sincerely. And the scenery was exquisite. (Pause) Apparently that lake has oodles of fish.
In The Seagull everyone practices Fine Art, devises Theatre and writes Literature. Their impassioned efforts are, however, largely talentless. All squirm within the rustic manor like fish in a barrel . Chekhov, in Kompania Doomsday's opinion, places his protagonists on a desolate and senseless merry-go-round. If someone loves, she is certainly not loved herself; or, if they are, they are not eager to reciprocate such feelings. Inter-generational tensions, revolt in the name of new forms, sentimental flights of fancy - all of this emerges from a realm of rural decline and futility.
But it's not just the idle atmosphere that dominates in Chekhov's tragedies. The seagull is also a scavenger. The carousel stalls and sways but still continues to go round and round.
"It's totally unique", wrote Monika Zmijewska, in the Białystok edition of "Gazeta Wyborcza", after the play's premiere. "The dramatist was hung, drawn and quartered: they completely took the play apart...Get ready for a show that runs like a speeding train: it speeds and swerves; it jumps right out of the tracks, only to miraculously get back on the road again". The performance itself, as directed by Hendrik Mannes, is also a nod towards the playwright: it shows the strength of "The Seagull" and how much one can still extract from it. It drives actors to total improvisation, and provides audiences with a surge of novelty, excitement, as well as an authentic dramaturgical experience."
Kompania Doomsday was founded in 2004 through the initiative of four graduates from the Puppet Theatre division of the Białystok Theatre Academy. All four star in The Seagull and the troupe is recognised as being exceptionally expressive and active. As an independent theatre (and - as such - having no permanent base) they take advantage of different 'found' sites as well as various Polish stages.
Their performances are very much influenced by the visual arts, with pictures, sound and lights comprising to transform the acting space - reworking the works of Shakespeare, Poe, Topor or Wilde. The theatre company also strives to develop the artistic culture of its own city, organising, from 2005 onwards, (and through a fair amount of work) 'Białysztuk' - a festival of theatrical initiatives. Fruitful collaboration has also stemmed from work with the German Figurentheatre Wilde&Vogel, which is also the production's co-producer.
As a result of the growing creative divisions of the group, the decision was made in 2009 to create two distinct departments; Grupa Coincidentia and Teatr Malabar Hotel. Kompani Doomsday also stopped giving premieres and now meets only with the aim of performing either Salome or The Seagull.
"From a certain time we functioned in two modes. We gave each other full trust and freedom of creation"- declares the group's official statement of objectives. "We came to the conclusion that the time had come when these two creative roads should diverge and develop autonomously. We believe that this is the natural course of things. At the same time we will continue to support and maintain contact with Teatr Kompania Doomsday, with special regard to their two performance repertoires."
- Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, dir. Hendrik Mannes, scenography: Michael Vogel, music; Charlotte Wilde; starring Dagmara Sowa, Marcin Bartnikowski, Marcin Bikowski, Paweł Chomczyk; co-produced by Kompania Doomsday and Figurentheatre Wilde & Vogel from Leipzig, premiered: 6th May 2008.
Performances in Leipzig: 22-23 July, 2010.
Source: press release, www.kompaniadoomsday.pl