Polish Theatre in Wrocław
Gabrieli Zapolskiej 3
The theatre opened on 20 December 1950 in a renovated building which used to be an operetta in 1906-1935, and housed a German drama theatre after that. The inaugural performance was the socialist realist play TYSIĄC WALECZNYCH / A THOUSAND BRAVE MEN by Jan Rojewski. In the first season the theatre's artistic profile was the responsibility of Maria Wiercińska and Edmund Wierciński. Wiercińska's projects included Aleksander Fredro's ŚLUBY PANIEŃSKIE / MAIDENS' VOWS with Barbara Krafftówna as Klara (1951), while Wierciński staged Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT and the Polish premiere of Alexander Sukhovo-Kobylin's KRECHINSKY'S WEDDING (1951). Interesting young actors performed at the Teatr Polski in the 1950/51 season: beside Krafftówna, also Ludwik Benoit and Igor Przegrodzki.
Wilam Horzyca, the "principal director" of Wrocław's theatres, was appointed artistic manager in 1952. The Wiercińskis left the Teatr Polski, taking with them actors who had formed the ensemble's core, including Krafftówna and Feliks Żukowski.
In the autumn of 1952 Jakub Rotbaum, a director who had already worked at the Teatr Polski, took over as artistic manager. On 1 May 1952 he staged Nikolai Pogodin's THE MAN WITH THE RIFLE; "... this was probably the most powerful and expressive staging of a play from the so-called Soviet revolutionary classics in post-war Polish theatre." (Józef Kelera, "Wrocław Teatralny 1945-1980" / "Theatrical Wrocław 1945-1980", Wrocław 1983). Rotbaum ran the theatre until 1962.
In the early years of Rotbaum's tenure, the main events in the theatre's repertoire were his impressive productions, such as Nikolai Bazylevsky's AMERICAN TRAGEDY (1955) or Maxim Gorky's ENEMIES (1955). In 1956 Rotbaum directed Stanisław Wyspiański's WESELE / THE WEDDING, a colourful production full of rhythm, followed in 1957 by a stunning version of Bertolt Brecht's THE THREEPENNY OPERA with an excellent Zbigniew Wójcik as Mack the Knife. After the political thaw which followed the events of October 1956, the Teatr Polski's repertoire did not reflect the changes which had taken place in Poland's cultural life. New Western plays were not staged, and the classics were produced no more than adequately.
For a short time - between 1962 and 1963 - Zygmunt Hübner was the manager of Wrocław's drama theatres, and attempted to improve the Teatr Polski's standard. He did not stay for long, though, being replaced by Maria Straszewska, while in March 1965 management of the Teatr Polski was taken over by Krystyna Skuszanka and Jerzy Krasowski, who ran the theatre until 1972.
The city of Wrocław became a major theatre centre from the mid-1960's. Interesting premieres were put on by the Teatr Współczesny managed by Andrzej Witkowski, there was Henryk Tomaszewski's Mime Theatre and the famous Kalambur student theatre, and Jerzy Grotowski moved to Wrocław with his Laboratorium Theatre. Changes also took place at the Teatr Polski: "... the Krasowskis' seven-year term gave the two theatres (Teatr Polski and Teatr Kameralny) their first lasting, consolidated, comprehensively developed and genuine artistic theatre." (Józef Kelera, "Wrocław Teatralny 1945-1980" / "Theatrical Wrocław 1945-1980", Wrocław 1983)
The most important productions of this time included plays by Juliusz Słowacki - KORDIAN directed by Skuszanka and Krasowski (1965), SEN SREBRNY SALOMEI / THE SILVER DREAM OF SALOME (1967) and FANTAZY (1968) directed by Skuszanka as well as original versions of classics: Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT with Igor Przegrodzki as Jacques (1966) and Calderon's LIFE IS A DREAM with stage design by Krystyna Zachwatowicz (1968) directed by Skuszanka, Molière's THE IMPOSTURES OF SCAPIN translated and directed by Bohdan Korzeniewski (1968), and Molière's DON JUAN with stage design by Władysław Hasior, directed by Krasowski (1970). Audiences at the Teatr Polski could also see two plays by Stanisława Przybyszewska staged by Krasowski - SPRAWA DANTONA / THE DANTON CASE (1967), which was the first post-war premiere of this work, and a world premiere performance of THERMIDOR (1971). Samuel Beckett's ENDGAME directed by Krasowski (1972) featured Maja Komorowska as Hamm. Henryk Tomaszewski also worked with the theatre, producing Stanisław Wyspiański's PROTESILAS I LAODAMIA / PROTESILAS AND LAODAMIA (1969). Credit is due to the manager duo of the time for developing an outstanding auteur theatre, but also for thoroughly renovating the building, obtaining new technical equipment, and finally erecting a new theatre building connected to the old one which now served as the venue's technical base.
In 1972, after Skuszanka and Krasowski moved to the Słowacki Theatre in Kraków, Maria Straszewska was appointed artistic manager, followed by Marek Okopiński, and from 1974 a three-person team - Marina Wawrzynek, Piotr Paradowski and Józef Kelera, followed by Piotr Paradowski in 1972, and Jerzy Grzegorzewski in 1978-1981.
The most interesting productions in the Teatr Polski's repertoire in the 1970's were: Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE staged by Zygmunt Hübner (1973), productions by Tomaszewski such as Eugene Ionesco's THE KILLING GAME staged as a burlesque macabre play (1973) and Carlo Gozzi's TURANDOT with brilliant stage design by Kazimierz Wiśniak (1974), and projects by Jerzy Grzegorzewski. These included the excellent ŚLUB / THE WEDDING by Witold Gombrowicz (1976) with a great Igor Przegrodzki as the Father, Ferdynand Matysiak as the Drunk, Iga Mayr as the Mother, and Ewa Lejczak playing Mańka, as well as subsequent very controversial productions which were avidly discussed, and which some critics considered to be too esoteric: Tadeusz Różewicz's ŚMIERĆ W STARYCH DEKORACJACH / DEATH AMIDST OLD DECORATIONS (1978) - a production in which Grzegorzewski changed the space of the show, placing the audience on the stage, and subordinated the work itself to his own original visual concept. In the 1979 production of Zygmunt Krasiński's NIE-BOSKA KOMEDIA / THE UN-DIVINE COMEDY, on the other hand, he presented the reality of the play filtered through the Poet's imagination, building a non-linear, oneiric show. During Grzegorzewski's management, Tadeusz Minc's projects at the Teatr Polski also won appreciation. They included the world premiere of the famous KOCZOWISKO / ENCAMPMENT by Tomasz Łubieński (1979).
After Grzegorzewski, management of the Teatr Polski was taken over by Igor Przegrodzki, an eminent actor who had been with the Wrocław theatre for decades, who celebrated 40 years of stage work with an excellent rendition of Laurenty in Tadeusz Różewicz's NA CZWORAKACH / ON ALL FOURS directed by Minc (1985). Between 1985 and 1988 Jacek Bunsch, a director who had worked with the theatre since 1982, was the general and artistic manager. Beside Eugeniusz Korin, he was one of the most interesting young directors whose careers had begun at the Teatr Polski at the start of the 1980's. Bunsch was interested mainly in repertoire representing the grotesque, hence his projects at the Teatr Polski included Witkacy's SZEWCY / THE SHOEMAKERS (1982), ONI / THEM (1984), JANULKA CÓRKA FIZDEJKI / JANULKA, DAUGHTER OF FIZDEJKO (1986) as well as Gombrowicz's HISTORIA / A STORY (1985).
In 1989-2000 the Teatr Polski was run by Jacek Weksler, a director who - contrary to most of his predecessors - turned out to be primarily an outstanding manager and strategist able to draw great individuals of Polish theatre to the Teatr Polski. He also managed to get the theatre rebuilt in 1996, after it had burned down two years before. The new building is among the most modern and best equipped theatres in Poland. It was under his management that the Teatr Polski became a theatre centre attracting great directors, and thus also large audiences, from all over Poland. The 1990's saw Jerzy Jarocki directing a series of outstanding productions at the Teatr Polski: Tadeusz Różewicz's PULAPKA / THE TRAP (1992), Anton Chekhov's PLATONOV (1993) and PLATONOV - THE OMITTED ACT (1996), but first and foremost Heinrich Kleist's KATHY OF HEILBRONN (1994) which was considered one of the director's greatest achievements. Its premiere took place at the newly opened Scena na Świebodzkim venue - converted premises of the historical Świebodzki Station. Krystian Lupa developed his auteur theatre at the Teatr Polski, including some truly great projects: the Polish premiere of Thomas Bernhard's IMMANUEL KANT (1996), THE LADY AND THE UNICORN based on Hermann Broch, THE TEMPTATION OF QUIET VERONICA based on Robert Musil (1997), and Werner Schwab's THE CHAIRWOMEN (1999). With Jarocki's and Lupa's productions, the power of the Teatr Polski's actors was fully displayed. Next to renowned actors like Przegrodzki and Mayr, there appeared outstanding representatives of the young generation: Kinga Preis - in the title role of Kathy of Heilbronn, and Ewa Skibińska - Veronica from THE TEMPTATION OF QUIET VERONICA.
Kazimierz Budzanowski is the current general manager of the Teatr Polski. Paweł Miśkiewicz has been the artistic manager since October 2000. A Young Directors' Studio was set up at the theatre in 2001. Its first premiere was Peter Handke's THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN directed by Monika Pęcikiewicz, a third-year student of Warsaw's Theatre Academy. Subsequent productions by young directors included Igor Bauersim's NORWAY. TODAY directed by Andrzej Majczak (2002), and Jan Klata's UŚMIECH GREJPRUTA / THE GRAPETRUIT SMILE directed by the author (2003). The theatre promotes new plays, and was the organizer of EURODRAMA - the Wrocław Forum of Contemporary Drama invoking the 35-year tradition of Wrocław's FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY POLISH PLAYS. Every year the Teatr Polski and "Dialog" monthly hold a Drama Competition. Today the theatre's repertoire includes two award-winning plays from this competition: Mariusz Bieliński's CICHO / QUIET directed by Aldona Figura (2003), and Przemysław Nowakowski's TRZY KOBIETY WOKÓŁ MOJEGO ŁÓŻKA / THREE WOMEN AROUND MY BED directed by Bogdan Hussakowski (2003). Another original project was started in 2000 - a monthly event called "Readings" at which the Teatr Polski's actors give readings of various theatrical forms. So far these readings have featured Cezary Harasimowicz's script HRABINA Z PODZIEMIA / COUNTESS OF THE UNDERGROUND, Peter Handke's THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE, and most recently Robert Bolesta's unpublished play ZABIĆ BONDA / KILL BOND.
The late 1990's brought young but already renowned Polish directors to the Teatr Polski: Paweł Miśkiewicz presented Yasmina Reza's ART (1998), Agnieszka Glińska produced Janusz Głowacki's new play CZWARTA SIOSTRA / THE FOURTH SISTER (1999). Other artists who work with the theatre include Rudolf Zioło, who staged Denis Diderot's JACQUES THE FATALIST AND HIS MASTER (2001), and Mikołaj Grabowski - director of Stanisław Wyspiański's WESELE / THE WEDDING (2002).
The most interesting productions of recent seasons include Anton Chekhov's UNCLE VANYA directed by Jerzy Jarocki (2000), Dea Loher's CLARA'S RELATIONSHIPS directed by Paweł Miśkiewicz (2001), and AZYL / ASYLUM based on Maxim Gorky, directed by Krystian Lupa (2003).
Teatr Polski we Wrocławiu
ul. Gabrieli Zapolskiej 3
Phone: (+48 71) 316 07 00
Fax: (+48 71) 316 07 03
Gabrieli Zapolskiej 3