Hymn to Love, a play by world-renowned director Marta Górnicka, is a collage of different versions of the national anthem, religious hymns, and patriotic and folk songs. It premiered on 21st January 2017 in Poznań’s Teatr Polski.
Hymn to Love is the last part of the international triptych Mother Courage, inspired by the work of Bertolt Brecht. It was previously shown in Israel and Germany to great acclaim. In Tel Aviv’s Museum of Modern Art, Górnicka gave voice to Jewish and Arab mothers, and from the stage in Braunschweig, she asked the public to think about refugees in Europe. Hymn to Love was named one of the most important plays of 2015 and was among the top fifty shows selected by the German theatre portal nachtkritik.de, which resulted in Górnicka’s nomination for the prestigious Der Faust award.
Marta Górnicka from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
Górnicka’s world-famous, anti-system, sharp, political choir comments on reality and discusses religious and social stereotypes. In Magnificat, it confronted the image of femininity in the Church, whilst in RequieMachine, it made a strong statement about unemployment, while at the same time acting as an essay on the contemporary work system. Hymn to Love, however, addresses patriotism using rhythm and music in between words.
The libretto is traditionally a collage of various cultural texts. Here, the director too creates a spectacle from fragments of marches, religious hymns and patriotic and folk songs, recalling different versions of the anthem, as well as quoting speeches given by Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik. In the text announcing Hymn to Love, Górnicka admits that when she was working on the play, she had a picture of a camp orchestra in her head, playing German classics, marches and well-known songs from pre-war operettas. Hymn to Love was met with enthusiastic reactions from viewers and theatre critics alike. A delighted Witold Mrozek wrote for Gazeta Wyborcza:
'Hymn to Love'’s form is a masterpiece. Precision and energy, dynamism and rhythmic perfection. The elaborate musical arrangements of the young composer Teonika Rożynek raise the tried and tested form of the choir to an even higher level.
Stefan Drajewski in Głos Wielkopolski noted:
Marta Górnicka did not disappoint. Her 'Hymn to Love' is another important voice in Polish theatre. It is a real and painfully honest voice, and at the same time, still formally attractive. (…) Górnicka’s plays are created according to her own method. In this method, she remains fresh and consistent. Each of her choirs is different, though based on music and specific expression of voice and movement. In 'Hymn to Love', nothing disturbs or distracts from the words shouted, sung, and whispered… The only important thing is the desire to hear them.
Co-producers: Women’s Choir Foundation, Teatr Polski in Poznań, Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, and Maxim Gorki Theatre. Hymn to Love’s premiere took place on 21st January 2017. The music was composed by Teonika Rożynek; the choreography by Anna Godowska. Robert Rumas was the stage designer and Anna Maria Karczmarska was the costume designer.
Sources: Głos Wielkopolski, Gazeta Wyborcza, Teatr Polski in Poznań, Culture.pl, ed. AL, transl. MM, August 2019