"We do not account for, nor attempt to impose, our own version of the course of events. We are just trying to stand up for what is left unsaid, repressed, in our history," say Monika Strzępka and Paweł Demirski about their play Long Live the War!!!.
Niech żyje wojna!!!/Long Live the War!!!, written by Paweł Demirski and directed by Monika Strzępka, is based on Janusz Przymanowski’s novel Czterej Pancerni i pies/ Four Tankmen and a Dog. The performance was created in opposition to the idyllic image of war portrayed in the novel as well as in the television series from the 60s based on the book. The artists claimed that they did not intend to impose their own vision of history or their opinions on the audience, but attempted to stand up for events that were left on the margins of history, forgotten or manipulated. They did not aim to take a stance, just to save it from oblivion.
Joanna Wichowska suggested on dwutygodnik.com that in Strzępka and Demirski’s performance, the propaganda of the Polish People’s Republic party and the propaganda of apologists for Polish heroism are as kitsch, absurd and intolerable as each other, because both falsify history.
Long Live the War!!! was staged, among others, at the Warsaw Theatre Meetings, and it divided critics and audiences. A German reviewer for the nachtkritik.de portal commented:
For Demirski, the story of the tankmen is a trampoline to jump into discussions on contemporary topics. Demirski combines the popular material with neuralgic moments in Polish history: we have here the beginning of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, then spring 1968 with the anti-Semitic wave in Poland led by the state (the time when the TV series was being filmed), and finally the scenes from rehearsals for the performance containing artists’ discussions on those topics in 2009. However, Strzępka’s staging is not only didactic and critical, but primarily, grotesquely comical.
The role of the dog was taken up by an older actor. Szarik was teased and nicknamed “Stalin’s dog”. He howled, barked, and growled. Is not the very TV series a farce about the war, which Demirski juxtaposed with his understanding of war displayed in the form of a grotesque and a farce? - wondered Russian reviewer Olga Gałachowa.
Long Live the War!!! based on Janusz Przymanowski’s Four Tankmen and a Dog, dramaturgy: Paweł Demirski; direction: Monika Strzępka; stage design: Michał Korchowiec; cast: Agnieszka Kwietniewska, Małgorzata Łakomska, Irena Wójcik, Andrzej Kłak, Marcin Pempuś, Ryszard Węgrzyn, Adam Wolańczyk;
It premiered on 12 December 2009 at Dramatyczny Theatre in Wałbrzych
Source: press materials, www.teatr.walbrzych.pl, dwutygodnik.com, eteatr.pl, ed..AL, transl.GS