Polish theatre

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In common with other European countries, the most frequent and most popular form of theatre in Poland is dramatic theatre, based on the existence of relatively stable artistic companies. It is above all a theatre of directors, who decide on the form of its productions and the appearance of individual scenes. There is no strict division in Poland between theatre and film directors and actors, therefore many stage artists are known to theatre goers from films of Andrzej Wajda, for example: Wojciech Pszoniak, Daniel Olbrychski, Krystyna Janda, Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, and from films of Krzysztof Kieślowski, actors such as Jerzy Stuhr, Janusz Gajos and others.

Alongside the many types of dramatic theatre whose basis is literature, there are in Poland historic forms of theatre in which spoken word is not the most important means of expression, e.g., visual theatre popular against state censorship, musical theatre, theatre of movement, etc. An equal popularity is being gained by theatres employing puppets, figures, or shadows; there is even a theatre of drawing as well as a theatre of fire.

Contents

Tradition

The strength of Polish dramatic theatre lays in the professionalism of its actors. The tradition of the great 19th century players, with Helena Modrzejewska – the "star of two continents" – at its forefront, has been continued by successive generations of university trained artists. This variety and authentic commitment by so many people provides the best evidence that theatre was and still is an inspirational experience in Poland. Further proof may be seen in the degree of audience interest toward the new, experimental theatre, creating a unique ambiance around them. It may also be seen in the expansion of festival life and respected theatre magazines, e.g., "Dialog", which has, for decades, presented the latest achievements in world dramaturgy. Alongside the established institutions with seasoned professionals and centuries-old traditions, there are amateur theatres and travelling groups as well.

Among the professional companies, the most representative is the National Theatre in Warsaw. The core of its repertoire consists of the most cherished Polish and foreign dramas, with which directors conduct their individual dialogues, asking these classic pieces questions tormenting modern-day Poles. Within this exploration, the National Theatre frequently attempts very courageous experiments, which means that its stage, although a showcase, is not at all academic. Most characteristic are the productions of Jerzy Grzegorzewski (Theatre director between 1997–2002), who, employing complicated stage equipment (metaphoric scenographic elements such as pantographs, huge musical instruments, or symbolic props) and creating his own montage of classic texts, testing their value, searching for their relevance to the here and now.

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