Polish Theatre in Poznan
27 Grudnia 8/10
The Polish Theatre (Teatr Polski) in Poznan was founded in 1875 in a specially erected building located on Berlin Street (currently December 27th Street). Stanislaw Hebanowski designed the building for a theatre whose full name at inception was Teatr Polski w Ogrodzie Potockiego w Poznaniu (The Polish Theatre in the Potocki Garden in Poznan). The name commemorated one of the theatre's founders and benefactors, Count Boleslaus Potocki, who donated a garden to the company was formed to create the theatre. This garden was subsequently sold and the proceeds were used to purchase the lot upon which the theatre was subsequently built. The theatre's name in abbreviated form, i.e. the Polski Theatre in Poznan, was instituted in 1925.
This Poznan stage was created on the initiative of the city's inhabitants and the theatre's façade was adorned with the inscription "Narod sobie" ("The Nation Unto Itself"). For the inhabitants of the Wielkopolska region (Great Poland), the Polski Theatre became a national stage, acting as a mainstay of Polish tradition and culture, and as a sign of resistance against the restrictive policies of the Prussian partition authorities.
During the theatre's first seasons, the tone of its productions was set to accommodate audiences composed of the landed gentry and the intelligentsia. The repertoire, however, quickly changed to meet the expectations of the theatre's largest potential audience, that is, the poor bourgeoisie. The Polski Theatre adopted the mission of filling the needs of this class, which it did by staging comedies about the Polish nobility, morality vaudeville's and scenes from Polish history. The Poznan stage became a "people's theatre" and retained this profile through the early years of the 20th century, oscillating between being a petty bourgeois theatre of greater and lesser ambition until 1918.
Between the two world wars, contemporary Polish plays dominated the theatre's repertoire. The Polski Theatre staged the premiere productions of Stanislaw Przybyszewski's MIASTO / THE CITY (1920), Tadeusz Rittner's OGROD MLODOSCI / GARDEN OF YOUTH (1920), Adam Grzymala-Siedlecki's SPADKOBIERCA / THE INHERITOR, Karol Hubert Rostworowski's ANTYCHRYST / ANTICHRIST (1925) and U METY / AT THE FINISH LINE (1932), and Adolf Nowaczynski's O ZONACH ZLYCH I DOBRYCH / ON WIVES, BAD AND GOOD (1931). Exceptional actress Stanislaw Wysocka directed productions at the Polski Theatre, Emil Zegadlowicz and Teofil Trzcinski acted as literary consultants, and talented designers Jan Kosinski and Zygmunt Szpingier produced scenery. The theatre, which was managed until 1933 by Boleslaw Szczurkiewicz and subsequently by Robert Boelke and Wladyslaw Stoma, successfully competed with the avant-garde Teatr Nowy (New Theatre) and Poznan's other stages.
The building escaped destruction during World War II and the Polski Theatre resumed its activities in March of 1945. Szczurkiewicz once again served as director between 1945 and 1948. During his tenure and above all that of Wilam Horzyca (1948-51), the Polski Theatre was one of the country's most interesting stages. Horzyca's directing projects in Poznan included Jean Baptiste Racine's PHAEDRE (1949), Alexander Ostrovsky's LAS / THE FOREST (1950) and Shakespeare's HAMLET (1950). He also drafted the services of Jan Kosinski, Andrzej Cybulski and Andrzej Stopka as scenery designers. During the Socialist Realist period, thanks primarily to Horzyca's efforts the Polski Theatre was viewed as one of the few places in Poland to be producing theatre art with a capital "A." For a few seasons after Horzyca's departure, the theatre's achievements were far from spectacular, until 1958, when Irena and Tadeusz Byrski stood at its helm for one season only. The most interesting productions of the season included Stanislaw Wyspianski's WESELE / THE WEDDING (1959) in Byrski's original staging that was stripped of the standard folk elements and featured scenery by Piotr Potworowski, and Stanislaw Herakliusz Lubomirski's DON ALVAREZ ALBO NIESFORNA W MILOSCI KOMPANIA / DON ALVAREZ OR A COMPANY UNRULY IN LOVE, a dramatic "white elephant" that was rediscovered for the stage in this 1959 production by Jan Perz.
The history of the Polski Theatre over the last decades has above all been one of frequent changes in the position of artistic director, with individuals holding this post an average of two to three seasons. Lack of stability in the position responsible for the artistic side of the theatre's activities did not serve the Poznan stage. The Polski Theatre failed to develop a characteristic profile and was viewed as one of Poland's mediocre theatres.
The theatre did, however, enjoy some exciting periods during which interesting theatre artists worked there. This was very much the case during Marek Okopinski's tenure as director in the years 1963-1967. Okopinski formed a good acting ensemble composed of a number of actors who had previously worked in Poznan, including Henryk Machalica, Kazimiera Nogajowna and Aleksandra Koncewicz, and a number of new actors, among Zygmunt Malanowicz, Zbigniew Szpecht, Zdzislaw Wardejn and Halina Winiarska.. In the early 1970s, the theatre's ensemble expanded to include Janusz Rewinski, Jerzy Schejbal, Krystyna Tkacz and Marzena Trybala.. Between 1967 and 1970, renowned director Izabella Cywinska staged a number of plays at the Polski Theatre, and in the years 1969-1974 the position of literary director was held by Andrzej Wanat, who would go on to become an exceptional theatre critic and editor-in-chief of "Teatr" ("Theatre") monthly. Tadeusz Minc directed Odon von Horvath's NIEZNAJOMA Z SEKWANY / THE STRANGER FROM THE SEINE (1973) and Julian Tuwim's KWIATY POLSKIE / POLISH FLOWERS (1974) at the Polski Theatre, while Andrzej Witkowski mounted productions of Edward Bond's OCALENI / SAVED (1974) and Jaroslaw Abramow's DARZ BOR / GOOD LUCK IN THE FOREST (1974). Roman Kordzinski remained linked to the Polski Theatre throughout the 1970s, acting as its artistic director and additionally serving as managing director in the years 1977-1981.
In the years 1982-1995, stage director Grzegorz Mrowczynski was one of the key figures at the Polski Theatre, acting as its artistic director and staging mostly the classics, dramas from the school syllabus and farces. Other productions included Henryk Rzewuski's LISTOPAD / NOVEMBER directed by Mikolaj Grabowski (1982), Shakespeare's HENRY V directed by Jan Kulczynski (1985), Mario Vargas Llosa's CHUNG directed by Tomasz Zygadlo (1994) and Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT directed by Jacek Zembrzuski (1995).
During the last quarter century, the stage on December 27th Street remained very much in the shadow of the Nowy Theatre in Poznan. In the 1990s, audiences and critics focused their attention largely on Poznan's independent theatres, including the Teatr Biuro Podrozy (Travel Office Theatre), Porywacze Cial (The Body Snatchers) and the Teatr Osmego Dnia (Theatre of the Eighth Day), which returned to the capital of Great Poland in 1989. Lech Raczak, who for years had been the artistic director of the Theatre of the Eighth Day, served as director of the Polski Theatre in the years 1995-1998 and attempted to transform the institution. A similar effort was made by the duo of Pawel Lysak and Pawel Wodzinski, who became co-directors of the Poznan stage in 2000.
Lysak's and Wodzinski's idea was to emphasize the kind of theatre that would appeal to contemporary audiences, and the Poznan stage began to feature productions that explored social and political issues of import. The Polski Theatre found itself at the center of contemporary theatrical life, the tone of which was set by productions of the new plays of representatives of the "New Brutalists" current. Lysak's and Wodzinski's bold program led to a conflict with the city council of Poznan in the years 2000-2001. Accusing the duo of taking the motto "The Nation Unto Itself" to an extreme, city authorities demanded that they "pursue their experiments on their own" and elsewhere. The repertoire at this time consisted of productions of the harsh, uncompromising plays of young European authors. Among other productions, the Polski Theatre staged the Polish premieres of plays like Theresia Walser's CORKI KING KONGA / KING KONG'S DAUGHTERS, directed by Rafal Sabara (2000), Lars Norén's KREG PERSONALNY 3:1 / CATEGORY 3:1, directed by Piotr Cholodzinski (2001) and Vladimir and Oleg Presnyakov's TERRORYZM / TERRORISM, directed by Pawel Lysak (2003). Grazyna Kania staged Sergi Belbel's KREW / BLOOD (2002), Lysak mounted productions of Ingmar Villqist's NOC HELVERA / HELVER'S NIGHT (2000) and HELMUCIK / LITTLE HELMUT (2002), and Pawel Szkotak directed Nikolai Kolada's MARTWA KROLEWNA / THE DEAD PRINCESS (2001). Anna Augustynowicz staged Marius von Mayenburg's PASOZYTY / PARASITES (2001) in a co-production with the Teatr Wspolczesny (Contemporary Theatre) in Szczecin, while Sarah Kane's famous 4.48 PSYCHOSIS, directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna (2002), was co-produced with Warsaw's Teatr Rozmaitosci (Variety Theatre). The same author's CLEANSED, directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, was a joint project with the Wspolczesny Theatre in Szczecin and the Rozmaitosci Theatre in Warsaw, and had its premiere on the Poznan stage in 2002.
The theatre has also opened the Centrum Dramaturgii (New Playwriting Center), which promotes new plays from Poland and abroad. The center also acts as a publishing house, producing books in the "Dramaturgia wspolczesna" / "Contemporary Drama" series.
Teatr Polski w Poznaniu
ul. 27 Grudnia 8/10
Phone: (+48 61) 852 56 28
Fax: (+48 61) 852 64 95
27 Grudnia 8/10