Country House Director’s Notes

The play Country House by Polish writer and theatre visionary Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz is extremely irreverent in its take on the 19th century play and novel of manners.

These are familiar to the discerning reader from the works of Turgenev, other Russian writers, as well as Witold Gombrowicz in his novel Possessed. We are exposed to a theatrical convention as old as theatre itself- the dead who return to earth to advise the living. In Hamlet the Ghost guides Hamlet to revenge. Here in Witkiewicz's Country House the Ghost in this black comedy returns to make matters worse by taunting husband and love and in a macabre twist settle scores with husband, lover and family. It is as if we all invited to partake and live in this drug-induced frenzy of disintegrating morals. The life and raison d’être of the szlachta no longer prevail.

It is as if Witkiewicz was more than prescient in seeing the destruction of the gentry as a class. The same theme is explored at length in Chekhov, but here with economy and with great wit in this black comedy.
 A final word: Witkiewicz is inexplicably overlooked in the U.S. Hopefully a writer often times associated with Bruno Schulz and Witold Gombrowicz ("We were three") will be better seen on American stages after this festival in his honor.

– Robert McNamara