In his new piece, a co-production with the Festival d’Avignon in France, the Polish director toys with the idea and form of a cabaret in order to portray contemporary oppression and alienation, as well as a desire for trangression. Kabaret Warszawski / Warsaw Cabaret is inspired by John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera and John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus
Kabaret warszawski / Warsaw Cabaret is inspired by John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera and John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus. Two distinct historical contexts are set side by side in the play – Weimar Germany before the Nazi takeover, and post-9/11 New York City. Circumscribing the seemingly diverging spaces, the two contexts become virtual laboratories of time and space, in which historic circumstance brings out repressed fears, making sexual phobias and conflicting desires surge forward, cumulating in all sorts of crises.
These two worlds serve as a mirror in which today's Warsaw can be seen, with Warlikowski and his Nowy Teatr exploring the restrictions of freedom in our world. In an age of uniformity and oppressive normalization imposed partly in the name of "collective security", people’s right to be themselves and their freedom of self-expression are increasingly curtailed and undermined. Consequently, societal norms are becoming a prison of sorts. These restrictions can only be circumvented in closed, all-but-underground spaces to which only insiders are admitted.
Theatre is one such space. With this production, Warlikowski, notorious for engaging his spectators in an unending debate about the issues that matter most, has chosen to work within the genre of cabaret. The entertainment form's assumptions include directly addressing the audience, permitting the convention of the fourth wall that separates performers from spectators to be broken through. Cabaret is by definition a space of freedom, governed by the misrule of a never-ending carnival.
With Warsaw Cabaret, the Nowy Teatr team confronts diverse scenarios of oppression. The play portrays a group of artists who exist for the sake of art - but art proves fatal for its acolytes, infusing them with doubt and making life impossible. In creating a therapeutic space where fears and taboos reside, Warlikowski shows threats and oppression that inevitably accrue to such enclaves.
The play is directed by Warlikowski, and was adapted for the stage by him with dramaturge Piotr Gruszczyński and Szczepan Orłowski. Małgorzata Szczęśniak created the set design, and Paweł Mykietyn composed the music score. The production's light design is by Felice Ross, with choreographery by Claude Bardouil.
The production is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. It is co-produced by Festival d’Avignon, Les Theatres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Theatre National de Chaillot from Paris, Theatre de la Place in Liege,
La Comedie de Clermont-Ferrand and Poland’s National Audiovisual Institute.
Warsaw Cabaret premieres on the 26th of May 2013 at 6 pm at Nowy Teatr in Warsaw. Subsequent performances are on the 28th, 29th, and 31st of May at 7 pm and on the 1st and 2nd of June at 6 pm. In July, it travels to the Festival d’Avignon.
The premiere of Warlikowski’s new play converges with the inauguration of the Nowy Targ initiative, a series of events including a fair, workshops and concerts. Throughout the summer season Nowy Teatr invites audiences to take part in a music festival directed by Paweł Mykietyn and an exhibition of stage design works by Małogorzata Szczęśniak. Piotr Gruszczyński of Nowy Teatr, who is a playwright and regular collaborator with Warlikowski, said in a talk with the PAP Polish press agency that the open-air café Sezonowa will be started up in May, hosting outdoor exhibitions and activities designed to animate social life in this area of Warsaw.
Nowy Teatr is located by Madalińskiego Street, in the former headquarters of the municipal cleaning service company MPO. The grounds include four buildings, among them a pre-war hall listed among Warsaw’s historic treasures. In the future they are to form part of the Nowy Teatr Cultural Centre, with the first stage of adaptations currently underway.
Paulina Schlosser, 16.04.2013
source: nowyteatr.org, PAP