Juliusz Osterwa Theatre in Lublin
The Juliusz Osterwa Theatre is housed in a building erected in 1886 to a design by Karol Kozłowski, at the initiative of a partnership called Spółka Cywilna - Teatr Lubelski. The theatre was built using funds from local industrialists, landowners, and intellectuals.
The theatre's post-war history began in 1944, when the Theatre of the Polish First Army arrived in Lublin with its manager Władysław Krasnowiecki. The ensemble's first premiere was Aleksander Fredro's Śluby panieńskie / Maidens' Vows directed by Krasnowiecki (1944). General management of the Lublin theatre, now renamed the Actors' Association, was soon handed over to Józef Klejer, and Irena Ładosiówna, who was the artistic manager, staged Gabriela Zapolska's Moralność pani Dulskiej / The Morality of Mrs. Dulska (1944). This was the first theatre to start operating in Poland after the war. Consequently, actors and directors from all over the country came to Lublin, including Aleksander Zelwerowicz, Jacek Woszczerowicz, Stefan Jaracz, Jan Kreczmar, Czesław Wołłejko, Jan Świderski. Soon the ensemble was incorporated into the Polish Army Theatre run by Krasnowiecki. This was the time of the premiere of Stanisław Wyspiański's Wesele / The Wedding directed by Woszczerowicz (1944) - a performance recognized as the start of a new, post-war chapter in the history of Polish theatre. Jan Kreczmar staged Aleksander Fredro's Dożywocie / The Annuity in a version designed by Aleksander Węgierko (1945).
From 1945 the theatre was called the Teatr Miejski (Municipal Theatre), and its manager was Antoni Różycki, who developed it into a theatre of stars, with the emphasis on acting skills. The repertoire was dominated by light, entertaining plays, but there was no lack of ambitious productions, to mention Alfred de Musset's The Candlestick staged by Karol Borowski (1946) - the theatre's leading director, and Juliusz Słowacki's Maria Stuart / Mary Stuart directed by Irena Ładosiówna (1947). Różycki came under strong attack from the press, who demanded a clear-cut artistic profile in the new reality. After Różycki and Borowski left the theatre, many renowned actors left too, including Maria Gorczyńska, Irena Malkiewicz, Józef Kondrat, Leon Łuszczewski.
Maksymilian Chmielarczyk was appointed manager in 1947, and ran the theatre for five years. In 1949 the theatre was nationalized and named after Juliusz Osterwa. With his comic talent, Chmielarczyk both played in and directed mainly realist plays, comedies, and vaudevilles in Lublin. Carefully designed productions of classics were staged - Pierre Beaumarchais's The Marriage of Figaro directed by Czesław Strzelecki (1948), Molière's The Miser (1949) and Juliusz Słowacki's Balladyna (1951) directed by Zofia Modrzewska, and later also contemporary plays - Alexander Korneychuk's Viburnum Grove directed by Paweł Bem (1951), and Jerzy Lutowski's Próba sił / Test of Strength staged by Modrzewska (1951). Works by Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Aleksander Fredro, Jerzy Szaniawski, and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz were also produced.
After Chmielarczyk was dismissed, the theatre was briefly run first by Jerzy Ukleja, then by Wiktor Biegański. Zdzisław Lorentowicz was the manager in 1955-1958. This was when Wanda Laskowska debuted in Lublin, preparing productions such as Juliusz Słowacki's MAZEPA (1955) and Lope de Vega's The Dance Teacher (1956), but she soon left. Lorentowicz failed to develop a distinct profile for the theatre, but he did want to stage ambitious repertoire. He managed partly to carry out this plan, also thanks to the directors he invited to work with the Lublin ensemble. They included Jan Kreczmar (Friedrich Schiller's The Parasite, 1956, Juliusz Słowacki's Fantazy, 1956), Maria Wiercińska (Schiller's Intrigue and Love, 1958), Maria Straszewska (Jean Anouilh's Ring round the Moon, 1957), Jan Maciejowski, Jerzy Goliński. Original stage designers also worked with the theatre, to mention Wojciech Krakowski and Krzysztof Pankiewicz.
The next manager was a stage designer, student of Aleksander Węgierko - Jerzy Torończyk, who ran the theatre in 1955-1971. An additional stage was opened in 1960 for presentations of contemporary drama; it went by different names, such as Reduta 60 and Scena Inicjatyw (Initiative Stage). Near the end of Torończyk's time in Lublin, the theatre's profile was the responsibility of Kazimierz Braun, who was the artistic manager in 1967-1972, and then both general and artistic manager until 1974. Zofia Modrzewska continued to direct under Torończyk's management; other directors included Jan Świderski (Stanisław Wyspiański's Klątwa / The Curse, 1958, Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Romulus The Great, 1960), Jerzy Goliński (Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, 1962), Józef Gruda (Juliusz Słowacki's Horsztyński, 1966), Maria Wiercińska (Tadeusz Rittner's W małym domku / In a Small House, 1969), Helmut Kajzar (Tadeusz Różewicz's Śmieszny staruszek / The Funny Old Man, 1970), Adam Hanuszkiewicz (Słowacki's Kordian, 1970), Jerzy Zegalski (Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1961), and Kazimierz Braun. This was a period when good literature was staged. The majority of plays in the repertoire were by contemporary Polish writers - Jerzy Szaniawski, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Zbigniew Herbert, Kazimierz Brandys, Stanisław Grochowiak, Sławomir Mrożek, Tadeusz Różewicz, and many others. Productions included Polish and world classics, Shakespeare and contemporary drama - Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Arthur Miller, Shelagh Delaney. The acting company included Roman Kruczkowski, Włodzimierz Wiszniewski, Stanisław Mikulski, Jan Machulski and Halina Machulska, Henryk Bista, Teresa Lassota.
Kazimierz Braun, a director and expert on theatre extremely interested in contemporary avant-garde theatre, tried to transfer the work methods and some artistic means used by alternative theatres to the Osterwa Theatre. He himself directed works by Cyprian Norwid (Aktor / The Actor, 1965, Kleopatra i Cezar / Cleopatra and Caesar, 1968) and Tadeusz Różewicz (Akt przerywany / The Interrupted Act, 1970, Kartoteka / The Card File, 1972). He tried to develop a poetic theatre reacting vigorously to the present time. The crowning project of Braun's tenure was Różewicz's Stara kobieta wysiaduje / The Old Woman Broods (1973).
"The group work on this project expressed the spirit of the new theatre to the fullest extent. The actors ...had to find a completely different scale of emotion in themselves than the sort which is useful in traditional theatre...," wrote Agnieszka Leo-Sielicka and Krzysztof Sielicki. " 'The Old Woman Broods', becoming a deep metaphor of the modern world, covered the entire theatre building with its 'happening', it went out into the streets, found extension in 'night-time vigils'." (in: "Jego siła nas urzekła... Szkice i wspomnienia z dziejów lubelskiego teatru" / "Its Power Charmed Us... Sketches and Memories from the History of the Lublin Theatre", ed. L. Gzella, Lublin 1985)
Beside experiments, traditional productions of classics were also prepared at this time; the theatre staged special performances for schools. Braun's activity caused a lot of controversy, however. The most frequently voiced doubt was whether it was really essential to experiment in a city with only one theatre. Braun soon left Lublin to take over as manager of the Teatr Współczesny in Wrocław.
In 1976 management of the Osterwa Theatre was taken over by Zbigniew Sztejman - previously an actor of the Lublin theatre, who ran it until 1980. The repertoire of this period was eclectic, and productions were of adequate standard. Only a few shows could be described as truly original, including Shakespeare's Hamlet in a production by Irena Babel (1978), Witold Gombrowicz's Operetka / Operetta directed by Józef Gruda (1979), and Jan Kochanowski's Odprawa posłów greckich / The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys staged by Jerzy Rakowiecki (1980).
Under Ignacy Gogolewski's management (1980-1985) Rakowiecki continued to direct plays, and Gogolewski himself directed quite a few productions as well as acted. In 1985-1993 the manager was Andrzej Rozhin, a man linked to Lublin since his student days, founder of Lublin's Gong 2 stage. Rozhin ran the theatre as a repertory venue addressed to the broad public.
"For the honour of our home and for our own satisfaction, we have to think about Lublin audiences more than we think about ourselves. We do not always play with complete satisfaction; we know there are better roles and more worthy plays than those we stage," he admitted. ("Scena" 1990, No. 11)
During this time the Osterwa Theatre produced some very popular music and dance shows - Lucjan Rydel's Betlejem polskie / Polish Bethlehem (1987) and Lwów Semper Fidelis (1990), both staged by Rozhin, and Zygmunt Nowakowski's Gałązka rozmarynu / A Sprig of Rosemary directed by Roman Kordziński (1988). Rozhin also produced Polish drama, including Tadeusz Różewicz's Białe małżeństwo / Mariage Blanc (1986), Witold Gombrowicz's Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda / Yvonne, Princess Of Burgundy (1990).
From 1993 until the end of the 1990's the Osterwa Theatre was run by Cezary Karpiński. During this time young directors came to work here - Paweł Łysak, whose projects included Janusz Głowacki's Antygona w Nowym Jorku / Antigone in New York (1993) and Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (1997), as well as Adam Sroka who presented his version of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf (1996), and Paweł Wodziński - designer of the stage adaptation of Paul Claudel's The Exchange (1997).
The deputy manager from 1978 was Krzysztof Torończyk, an economist, son of Jerzy Torończyk - stage designer and long-time general manager of the Lublin theatre. Krzysztof Torończyk has been general manager of the Osterwa Theatre since 1998. Krzysztof Babicki has been the artistic manager since 2000, and has staged such projects as Ivo Brešan's Icy Seed (2000), Paweł Huelle's Kąpielisko Ostrów / The Ostrow Resort (2001), Adam Mickiewicz's Dziady / Forefather's Eve (2001), Biesy / The Devils based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky (2002), Albert Camus's Caligula (2003), Shakespeare's Hamlet (2004), and Petr Zelenka's Tales of Ordinary Madness (2005).
Teatr im. Juliusza Osterwy
ul. Narutowicza 17
Phone: (+48 81) 53 244 36, 53 242 44