Adam Mickiewicz's 'Forefathers' Eve' directed by Eimuntas Nekrošius to be performed at the SIRENOS International Theatre Festival in Vilnius in honour of the centenary of Poland regaining its independence.
So how does one go about staging Forefathers’ Eve (Dziady) when the very idea behind the drama as well as its form challenge the structures of the theatre itself? What’s more, the drama revolves around the theme of “a sacrilegious rite full of blasphemy.” In this light, how to assign Forefathers’ Eve the status of the canon, or the core of the theatre classics? This is exactly the role that Forefathers’ Eve occupies in the Polish theatre tradition whereas this is a drama that calls for a never-ending rebellion challenging sanctity, itself, and ourselves.
Adam Mickiewicz started writing the work in Vilnius and Kaunas (1820–1822) as a coming-of-age twenty year-old, only to finish it in Dresden (1832) as a bitterly experienced emigrant. The drama confronts the personal matters and the collective issues, Polish culture and the Lithuanian culture, beliefs and doubts, Western civilisation and local knowledge. The complaints of victims of the political terror interlink with the ponderings on the mechanisms underlying creativity.
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The work was staged for the first time as late as in 1901. In the 20th century the most renowned directors of the Polish theatre took on the challenge. However, it was the stage of the National Theatre that witnessed its complicated history. When in the autumn of 1967 Kazimierz Dejmek, the director of the day, produced Forefathers’ Eve, the premiere was received as a political act, a protest against the Soviet rule in which even the audience would participate. When after two months the performance was banned from the stage, riots broke out and political crisis arose in the country.
For half a century after the legendary performance, nobody dared to take up the challenge to produce the drama on the same stage. Lithuanian theatre director Eimuntas Nekrošius ventured to do so in order to mark the 250th anniversary of the National Theatre in Warsaw in 2016. This a completely new take on Forefathers’ Eve: visionary, thought-provoking, specific – a sacrilegious rite, and it will performed on stage in Vilnius in honour of the centenary of Poland regaining its independence.
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Eimuntas Nekrošius is a Lithuanian theatre and opera director, a graduate of the Directing Department at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow in 1978. He is a visionary who goes of the beaten path and an artist with a rich visual and musical imagination who takes the audience by surprise with his unconventional reinterpretations of stage classics. Nekrošius is known for marking each of his performances with unique features, which never leaves the audience indifferent. Winner of several prestigious awards at Polish festivals, he has successfully anchored in the land of the Vistula river where he continues to startle the audience with brave interpretations of works by local authors.
SIRENOS is an international theatre festival presents new and intriguing plays and performances from Lithuania and around the globe. It is also a meeting place for theatre producers, festival organisers and theatre lovers from all over.
Forefathers’ Eve will be performer in Polish, with Lithuanian and English surtitles.
The Lithuaniam National Opera and Ballet Theatre, where the Lithuanian premiere of Forefathers’ Eve will take place, is a state-run institution, established and financed by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.
The performance is organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the Polish Institute in Vilnius, the National Theatre in Warsaw, the SIRENOS Festival and ORLEN Lietuva.
SIRENOS International Theatre Festival
North and South
The project is co-organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute operating under the Culture.pl brand as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence.
Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2022.
Source: press materials, compiled by NR, Oct 2018