In Partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Polish Cultural Institute in New York and Department of Theater & Dance at the George Washington University
Ambassador Theater presents US Premiere of
…Anxities and nightmares of an artist, Franz Kafka…
by Tadeusz RóÅ¼ewicz
Translated by Adam Czerniawski
With Music by Jerzy Satanowski
…the most provocative and original playwright of the post-war period….enigmatic works that "sets up traps" for literal-minded critics, directors and audiences…
Produced and Directed by Hanna Bondarewska
Assistant Director Shawn W. Lyles
Set Design by Carl Gudenius
Multimedia Design by Riki Kim
Lighting Design by Michael Stepowany
Sound Design by Paul Oehlers
Costumes by Sigridur Johannesdottir
Stage Manager Yijin (Vanessa) Liu
Matthew Payne, Colin Davies, Benjamin Koonz, Morganne Davies *, Alexander Rolinski, Ariana Almajan, Melissa Robinson, Madeline Burrows, Emily Gilson, Abigail Ropp, John Brennan, Peter Orvetti, Marlove Vilchez, Ed Klein, and Tiffany Pindell
*Member of Actors Equity Association
May 28 – June 21, 2015
XX Bldg of the George Washington University, 814 20th Street, NW, Washington DC
CAST AND CREW
Founder, CEO, and Artistic Director
Hanna Bondarewska is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Ambassador Theater and was recently seen inÂ Lady, a one woman show based on Shakespeare'sÂ Macbeth and inÂ They Don't Pay? We Won't Pay!Â by Dario Fo as Antonia,Â SmartphonesÂ as Maria,Â Protest as Stankova,Â Death of Tintagiles as Ygraine and in Summer at Nohant as George Sand. â€œFor Hanna Bondarewska, the path to world peace not only exists, she is walking it â€” one artistic endeavor at a time.â€ â€“ The Washington Diplomat.
Hanna Bondarewska is a native of Warsaw, Poland and was trained in the Polish and American schools of drama. She founded the Ambassador Theater because she believes in the power of theater to change the world for the better through collaboration and artistry. By bringing together theater and diplomacy she hopes to give us all a new perspective as global citizens, which will lead to deeper cultural understanding.
In June 2008, Hanna organized a life-changing trip to Poland for students from D.C. Public Schools as part of an educational program about Poland. The program was done in collaboration with Mrs. Hanna Reiter, wife of the former Ambassador of Poland to USA, the Embassy of Poland, Embassy Adoption Program, D.C. Public Schools and WPAS. She worked with over 60 students, teaching them about Poland, its history, culture, and traditions through theater designed to help them better retain learnt material, improve their reading comprehension, posture, and speaking skills, increase their imagination, and energize their drive for life.
The program developed into a performance, "Poland the Beautiful, an Imaginary ." Students performed the piece at their schools and at the Embassy of Poland, and then took it on the road for the First Lady of Poland, Mrs. Maria Kaczynska, at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw and in many other places around Poland last June.
Hannaâ€™s acting credits are extensive and include the role of Antonia in They Don't Pay? We Won't Pay! by Dario Fo, George Sand in Summer at Nohant, Young Helena Modjeska in Farewell to Arden, Helenaâ€”the Emigrant Queen; Mother in Sunflowers, Wife in Square Minus One; A Genie Named Khatab; Snow Queen; Anouilhâ€™s Antigone; Gogolâ€™s The Marriage; and Goldoniâ€™s Mirandolina and many others.
Ms. Bondarewska has recently directed Lady, The Trap, Happily Ever After, The Visitor,Â The Third Breast, The Madman and the Nun,Â Death of Tintagiles, Miracle of Saint Anthony, Summer at Nohant, Farewell to Arden, Forefathers, and Out at Sea.
Her one-woman show, Lenya Cum Weill, won recognition at the Kennedy Center Performing Arts Festival. Hanna performed at the Washington Shakespeare Theatre, Spectrum Theatre, Classika-Synetic Theatre, The New York Polish Theater, Hippodrome State Theatre, and Acrosstown Theater in Florida, where she also directed The Tao of Pooh, based on the book by B. Hoffman, and S. MroÅ¼ekâ€™s Tango. Her Polish theater credits are extensive and include work in Warsaw, Bialystok, Olsztyn, Torun, Katowice, and Wroclaw with many luminaries of the Polish stage.
Hanna received her Master of Fine Arts in Classical Acting at the Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University and Shakespeare Theatre. She graduated magna cum laude from the Mount Vernon College of The George Washington University and also earned her Acting Diploma in Poland. For over 15 years she served as Executive Director of the Institute for Education and Membership Chairman of the ABC XXI Child Awareness Program for Poland, which supports the emotional health and rights of children and adolescents through reading programs, awareness, education, and action.
Recently, her one-woman show of Lady was invited to perform at several international theater festivals around the world.
Ms. Bondarewska has received various honors, including 2015 and 2014 DC Metro Theater Â ArtsÂ Best Director, Best Play Award,Â 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award, the St. Cyril and Methodius Award of excellence in promoting the Bulgarian Culture, Julia Heflin Performing Arts Award, recognition by Who's Who Among Students in American Universities, identification as a National Dean's List Scholar, and others.
JERZYÂ SATANOWSKI (Composer)
Born August 23, 1947 in Warsaw. Composer, arranger and director of musicalÂ performances. A graduate of Department of Polish Studies at Adam MickiewiczÂ University in Poznan. SelfeducatedÂ in music. A rock band vocalist and guitaristÂ during his high school years.Â Debuted as a theatrical composer in 1972 at the Boguslawski Theater in KaliszÂ with the music for â€œTrucizna, milosc i spiewâ€, based on texts by E. Stachura.Â Since then has composed music for over three hundred plays performed atÂ Polish and European theaters. CooperatedÂ with almost every theatre in Poland,Â including Polish TV, and wrote music for overseas productions in Vienna (Burg
Theater), Zurich (Schauspielhaus), Helsinki (National Theater), LeningradÂ (Towstonogow Theater), Bonn, Geneva, Kassel, Graz, Dusseldorf, Wiesbaden,Â Krajina and Teheran.
As a theatrical composer worked with the following artists, amongst others:Â Erwinem Akserem, Maciejem Prusem, IzabelÄ… CywiÅ„skÄ…, Janem Englertem,Â Maciejem Englertem, Adamem Hanuszkiewiczem, Gustawem Holoubkiem,Â Krzysztofem Zaleskim, AgnieszkÄ… Holland, Laco Adamikiem, TadeuszemÂ Åomnickim.
Jerzy wrote music for all performances directed by Janusz Wisniewski who was theÂ recipient of the following awards: Grand Prix at BITEF Festival in Belgrade in 1983 for â€žPonopticum Ã la Madame Tissauâ€ and â€žKoniec Europyâ€Í¾ Grand Prixfor Panopticum Ã la Madame Tissau and Koniec Europy at Theatre of theÂ Nations Festival in Nancy in 1984Í¾ Fringe First for Koniec Europy in 1985 andÂ Fringe First for Modlitwy chorego przed nocÄ… in 1986 at Edinburgh TheatreÂ Festival.
Jerzy Satanowski composed music for films, working with StanisÅ‚aw RÃ³Å¼ewicz, Filip Bajon,Â Marek Koterski, Andrzej Domalik, Janusz Zaorski, Robert GliÅ„ski, AndrzejÂ Kondratiuk, Januszem Kondratiuk, Maciej Wojtyszka, Jerzy Domaradzki. He directed over a dozen original musical performances: â€žDecadanseâ€, â€ž List doÂ PozostaÅ‚ychâ€, â€Wszystkie babskie Å›rodki przeciwko Å›mierciâ€, â€žMr Bâ€ at â€žTeatrzeÂ Nowymâ€ in PoznanÍ¾ â€žÅšpiewniczek upiornych kantyczekâ€, â€RodzinaÂ DreptakÃ³wâ€, â€žDomofonâ€ at â€žTeatr na Woliâ€ in WarsawÍ¾ â€žNie Å¼aÅ‚ujeâ€, â€žZanimÂ bÄ™dziesz u brzeguâ€ , â€žAntySzantyâ€, â€Stop Klatkaâ€ at â€žTeatr Atelierâ€ in Sopotâ€Í¾Â Ulica SzarlatanÃ³wâ€, Konie Narowisteâ€ at â€œSpiewajmy Poezjeâ€ (Lets SingÂ Poetry) at Olsztyn CastleÍ¾ â€ž Zabawki Pana Bogaâ€, â€žTuwimÂ dlaÂ dorosÅ‚ychâ€,Â CaÅ‚ujcie mnie wszyscy w odbiornikâ€ at â€œTeatr Romaâ€ in WarsawÍ¾ â€ž BiaÅ‚aÂ Lokomotywaâ€ at Teatr Ateneum in Warsaw.
Composed music for the following vocalists: KrystynÄ™ JandÄ™, MarylÄ™Â Rodowicz, KatarzynÄ™ NosowskÄ…, EdytÄ™ Geppert, MagdÄ™ Umer, StanisÅ‚awÄ™Â CeliÅ„skÄ…, JustynÄ™ SteczkowskÄ…, Ewe BÅ‚aszczyk, EdytÄ™ JungowskÄ…, HannÄ™
ÅšleszyÅ„ska, AnnÄ™ DereszowskÄ…, KatarzynÄ™ Groniec, HannÄ™ Banaszak,Â KrystynÄ™ Tkacz,Piotra Fronczewskiego, Ryszarda Rynkowskiego, MirosÅ‚awaÂ CzyÅ¼ykiewicza, Zbigniewa Zamachowskiego, Mariana Opanie, Jana Peszka,Â MichaÅ‚a Bajora, MirosÅ‚awa BakÄ™, Piotra MachalicÄ™. He received music awards for the following: â€žNoc listopadowaâ€ Theater FestivalÂ in Opole 1979Í¾ â€žOperetkaâ€ in WrocÅ‚aw 1980Í¾ â€žJudasz z Kariothuâ€ Theater
Festival in Kaliszu 1981 and in Opole 1982Í¾ â€žWeseleâ€, â€žDziadyâ€ and â€žNieBoskaÂ komediaâ€ Theater Festivals in Opole between 198283Í¾Â for musical "MiÅ‚oÅ›Ä‡, czyli Å¼ycie, Å›mierÄ‡ i zmartwychwstanieâ€ Theater Festival in WrocÅ‚aw
1985Í¾ Grand Prix at the Opole Song Contest in 1986 for â€žTo nic, Å¼e to senâ€Í¾Â forâ€Skarpetki opus 116â€ at Festival of Two Theaters in Sopot.Â Awarded for film soundtracks to â€žSchodami w gÃ³rÄ™, schodami w dÃ³Å‚â€ andÂ â€žWrzeciono czasuâ€ at Film Festival in GdaÅ„skÍ¾ nominated for â€œPolskie Orlyâ€ forÂ â€žDzien Åšwiraâ€.
Other awards: Director of Radio and TV Board Award, 1980Í¾ The Order ofÂ Polonia Restituta KrzyÅ¼Â Kawalerski Orderu Odrodzenia Polski and SilverÂ Medal of Merit for the Polish Culture ZasÅ‚uÅ¼onyÂ Kulturze Gloria Artis.
Currently, Jerzy Satanowski holds a position of an artistic supervisor at theÂ Roma Musical Theater in Warsaw and is an Artistic Director of theÂ â€œPamietajmy o Osieckiejâ€ (Lets Remember Osiecka) Song Contest.
Shawn W. Lyles
Shawn W. Lyles (Assistant Artistic Director) is a graduate of Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts. With a concentration in Cinematography and Editing, he completed his Digital Filmmaking professional program at the Washington, DC Campus."What does this have to do with theater?" you may ask. Filmmaking was the bridge that connected Shawn to Hanna and the Ambassador Theater. Upon hearing about the work of the theater and the production of 'Rage', Shawn's contribution came in the form of a trailer for the play, as well as a feature segment with the director Joe Banno.This led to ideas of a more day to day involvement with the theater, but his association with drama didn't start there.
Shawn, a native of Rochester, NY, theater background began at Syracuse University where he studied under Arthur Storch and performed (as Chino) in Syracuse Stage's production of West Side Story. Having caught the acting bug, Shawn set his sites for the regional houses in the area and was cast In Geva Theatre's A Raisin in the Sun (George Murchison) and The Member of the Wedding (Honey Camden Brown).
At the urging of his director Woodie King Jr., Shawn made the move to NYC and split time between theatre work (which included an East Coast tour with The Shoestring Players), daytime television (ABC's 'One Life to Live') and a Manhattan based cable-access music show called 'Make It or Break It' where he worked as the videographer-on-the-street.
After developing an appreciation for creating and producing segments, and learning the realities of 'run and gun' filming, Shawn broadened his skill set, and while employed as a Video Editing Specialist at Sachs Insights, he honed his video story telling working with focus groups and research projects.
He also was able to transition into directing theater by founding the 'Black Expressions Theater Group' where he co-produced and directed "I See Rivers" and "Denmark Vesey Revolts" at Geva Theatre and The Village Gate Theater.
A move to Washington, DC translated into a variety of new experiences including the opportunity to act once again in "A Mid-Summer Nights Dream" & "Much Ado About Nothing" with The Shakespeare Theater Company and the founding of B-Roll Film Productions where he produced and directed a promotional video for the non-profit organization 'Bread for the City', produced a recruitment video for the national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization 'Back on My Feet', and served as Co-Producer/Editor on the 'One World Education 2014 Student Ambassadors' video. He also served as videographer for 13-time Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Leamy's keynote speech to 2014 Association Media and Publishing and produced a mini-documentary on Washington, DC native, musician, David Marsh. Shawn would like to thank Hanna for her ongoing mission of bringing diversity and cultural awareness in the arts to the community, and for the opportunity to contribute to the Ambassador Theater.
Carl Gudenius-Scenic Designer:
This is Carlâ€™s first design for Ambassador Theatre. He has been designing scenery for theater, corporate and special events since 1976 and has also been working as an art director and production designer for television since 1989. Recent design work has included Spirit of America (2001-2005), WWII Tribute to a Generation, 50th Anniversary of the Korean War, and the Army Band Holiday Concert for the US Army, POTUS Diplomatic Podium and Graphic Support for the office of the president As well as Art Direction for The Democratic Candidate Debates, The Reagan State Funeral, Nightline and Good Morning America for ABC News. His scenic designs for theater have been seen at many theaters ranging from local, regional and national tours. His Television credits include work for ABC, ESPN, CNN, PBS (including 8 years of In Performance at the White House), and C-SPAN networks as well as many local, national and international broadcasts. His corporate design work has covered hundreds of shows and events for such clients as Terminix, Accenture, Pfizer, Sony, HP, MasterCard, Choice Hotels and Barnes & Noble. He is resident designer and board member for The Washington Stage Guild. In addition to his professional activities he is professor of design for the department of Theater & Dance at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Riki K. (Digital Scenography) is a multimedia designer specializing in digital media integration into various environment. She earned her B.F.A. at The Academy of Art University (San Francisco) and studied at Oxford University, before earning her M.F.A. at University of London (United Kingdom). Her work for the DC and Baltimore theaters has been critically acclaimed by critics including The Washington Post. Her work was nominated for a 2015 Helen Hayes."
Paul A. Oehlers
Paul A. Oehlers is most recognized for his “extraordinarily evocative” film scores. (Variety) Films incorporating his music have screened at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, the Indiefest Film Festival of Chicago, and the Hamptons International Film Festival, where the film Paul scored, Most High, captured the Golden Starfish, the largest independent film award in the United States. The film has gone on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Atlanta International Film Festival and the Prism Award for Outstanding DVD of the Year. Paul A. Oehlers’ compositions have been performed in the United States and abroad including performances at the Society for Electro-acoustic Music in the United States national conferences, the International Computer Music Conferences, the Gamper New Music Festival, the Seoul International Electroacoustic Music Festival, the Institut für Neue Musik und Musikerziehung in Darmstadt, Germany, and the VII Annual Brazilian Electronic Music Festival, as well as a 1987 command performance for former United States President Ronald Reagan. Paul was named the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow by the MacDowell Colony for the year 2006. He is currently Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Audio Technology at American University in Washington, DC.
Michael C. Stepowany
Michael C. Stepowany, Lighting Design. Michaelâ€™s lighting design has been seen in St Petersburg, Russia, Tromso, Norway, and Vienna Austria. He recent lighting designs include Jitney for the St. Louis Black Rep, Zenon Dance Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the National tour of Forever Swing. Mr. Stepowany is the Set Designer and Technical Director for Howard Universityâ€™s Department of Theater Arts. Michael is a graduate of NYU School of the Arts.
Kathy Gordon (Choreographer) is thrilled to be working on her first show with Ambassador Theater.
Kathy is a Company Member with Synetic Theater and has performed in many of their productions over the past 5 years, her favorite shows include Twelfth Night (HH Best Ensemble winner 2015) The Island of Dr Moreau, A Midsummer Nights Dream and Much Ado About Nothing. Kathy is also Co Producer of Dark Night Showcase which is an annual one night event hosted at the Synetic Theater to showcase original work by Synetic Company Members.
Kathy has performed in many productions in DC and across the US as wells as England, France, Germany, Mexico and around the world performing on Cruise Ships.
Kathy has shown her original Choreography in both London and Oxford in England, in DC and in NYC and last year founded K.G.Dance a fledgling Contemporary Dance Company based here in DC.
Thank you Irina and Hanna for this opportunity and Robbie for his love.
Polish Cultural Institute New York
The Polish Cultural Institute New York, established in 2000, is a diplomatic mission to the United States serving under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. The PCI is one of 24 such institutes around the world. It is also an active member of the network of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in its New York cluster.
The Instituteâ€™s mission is to build, nurture, and promote cultural exchange between the United States and Poland by presenting Polish culture to American audiences and by connecting Polish artists, researchers and scholars from various fields to American institutions, introducing them to their professional counterparts in the United States, and facilitating their participation in contemporary American culture.
The Institute produces and promotes a broad range of cultural events in theater, performance, dance, music, film, visual arts, literature, and the humanities. Among its past and present American partners are such distinguished organizations as Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Museum of Modern Art, the Jewish Museum, PEN American Center, the Poetry Society of America, YIVO, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University, 92nd Street Y, Columbia University, St. Annâ€™s Warehouse, Princeton University, the Harvard Film Archive, the CUNY Graduate Center, the Julliard School of Music, Film Forum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Morgan Library & Museum, Anthology Film Archives, The Santa Fe Opera, the New Museum, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Symphony Space, the New York Public Library, the Cinefamily, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Kennedy Center, and many more.
Our programs have included American presentations of works by such a wide range of distinguished artists, including filmmakers Agnieszka Holland, Roman Polanski, Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jerzy Skolimowski, Malgorzata Szumowska and Andrzej Zulawski; poets and authors Wislawa Szymborska, Czeslaw Milosz, Adam Zagajewski, Zbigniew Herbert, Tadeusz RÃ³zewicz, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Stanislaw Lem, Witold Gombrowicz and Bruno Schulz; composers Karol Szymanowski, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, Andrzej Panufnik, Witold Lutoslawski, Mikolaj GÃ³recki, Krzysztof Penderecki, Pawel Mykietyn and Fryderyk Chopin; theater directors Tadeusz Kantor, Jerzy Grotowski, Krystian Lupa, Grzegorz Jarzyna and Krzysztof Warlikowski; visual artists Alina Szapocznikow, Miroslaw Balka, Katarzyna Kozyra, Pawel Althamer, Edward Krasinski, Zofia Kulik, JÃ³zef Robakowski, Zbigniew Libera, Krzysztof Wodiczko and Magdalena Abakanowicz; and many other Polish researchers and scholars, public intellectuals, and social and cultural activists.
Bartek Remisko â€“ Acting Director
Bartek Remisko has been Deputy Director of the Institute since September 2011 and its Acting Director since August 2014.
Mr. Remisko has worked in the cultural sector and arts administration for over ten years. His interests lie particularly in Visual Arts and Polish-Jewish relations. He also has extensive experience in corporate social responsibility, diversity management and in public affairs and relations.
After interning at the Polish permanent missions to UNESCO in Paris and the United Nations in New York, Mr. Remisko worked at the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Education and Culture Directorate of the European Commission, and the European Parliamentâ€™s Committee on Culture, both in Brussels. He also served as an Expert in Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity Management for the TP-Orange Group in Warsaw, the largest communications company in Central and Eastern Europe and part of the worldwide France Telecom-Orange Group. There he also collaborated on cultural and educational programming with its corporate charity, the Orange Poland Foundation, and the global Orange Foundation headquarters in Paris. He is a member of the Civic Forum on Contemporary Art in Poland and serves on the Audit Committee of the Responsible Business Forum in Warsaw.
Mr. Remisko has degrees in the humanities as well as arts and cultural administration from Warsaw University, the Warsaw School of Economics, Institut dâ€™Etudes Politiques Sciences-Po Paris, the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and Universite ParisVIII. He is currently enrolled in the Arts Administration program at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Anna Perzanowska â€“ Music Programming
Anna Perzanowska has been Music Programmer at the Institute since January 2007.
Anna Perzanowska is currently pursuing her Masterâ€™s Degree in ethnomusicology at the City University of New York at Hunter College. Music has been her passion since her very early years; she began her music education at the age of five at the Fryderyk Chopin Elementary Music School in Warsaw. After immigrating to New York at the age of 14, she continued her studies at the LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts. Upon attending music classes at Hunter College, Anna graduated from Baruch College with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing in 2003. In order to combine her interests, Anna worked with numerous New York institutions and musicians in preparation of concerts and various cultural events.
Sean Bye - Humanities Programming
Sean Bye has been Humanities Programmer at the Institute since February 2014.
Sean is a literary translator, actor and theater director. His translations of Polish fiction, drama and reportage have been published in magazines and journals such as Words Without Borders, Continents, and In Other Words, and his essays and commentary on literary translation have appeared in The Mantle, Translation Ireland and others. He is an artistic director of the London-based radio theater company Invisible Theater, for which he regularly acts, produces and translates.
Sean studied Polish, French, and German at University College London from 2005-2009, and received a Master's International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2010. He won a competitive space on the 2013 British Centre for Literary Translation mentorship program and spent six months working with the award-winning Polish literary translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones. A native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Sean was based primarily in London from 2005 to 2014 before moving to New York to join the PCI.
Marzena Dawidziuk â€“ Film & Performing Arts Programmer
Marzena Dawidziuk has been Project Coordinator since October 2012, having previously worked as Assistant to the Director of the Institute.
She earned a Masterâ€™s Degree in American Studies from Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin. A foreign languages enthusiast, she worked as a Polish/English business and legal translator for several years before joining the Polish Cultural Institute. Upon immigrating to New York in 2008, she has continued her education at NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, where she completed her Certificate in Global Affairs.
Magdalena Mazurek-Nuovo - Communications Officer
Magdalena Mazurek-Nuovo has been Communications Expert at the Institute since April 2014.
She holds an M.A. in Polish Philology from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and has completed a postgraduate program in teaching Polish as a foreign language at Marie Sklodowska-Curie University. For seven years she worked for the Kosciuszko Foundation. As the Director of Cultural Affairs she organized and ran a number of successful events and programs promoting Polish culture in US. She has extensive knowledge of Polish cultural and historical organizations, and successfully organized and ran the Jan Karski Educational Foundationâ€™s fundraisers in Nov. 2013, and Nov. 2014. She is continuing her education at NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Agnieszka Stypulkowska - Assistant to the PCINY team
Agnieszka Stypulkowska has been assistant to the PCINY team since June 2015. She has a degree in Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in Art History, from Brooklyn College, as well as a degree in Management from Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management in Gdansk, Poland. She has been working in the administrative field for nearly 10 years. She has also worked as a journalist covering visual art and theater. She studied screenwriting at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, completed a certificate in film editing at Future Media Concepts in New York and earned a certificate in filmmaking at the L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy in India. She is currently studying French at the French Institute and working toward her masterâ€™s degree in Art History. She has long had an interest in exploring other cultures through visual art and theater.
Eliza Anna Falk
Eliza Anna Falk ( Literary Director) joined the Ambassador Theatre in early 2013 as a Creative and Editorial Consultant, in time to contribute to the success of the Literary Café event at the Embassy of Austria. Soon after she assumed the role of a Literary Associate Director and provides literary support to the theater’s productions, working with the Artistic Director on research and plays’ development. Her contributions include essays and articles; press releases, play bills and programs, aticc.org blog entries, as well as editorial work and occasional translations i.e. poems by Ireneusz Iredynski. Eliza’s passion for theatre and writing is also being realized through her work as a writer/reviewer for DC Metro Theatre Arts, covering plays, musicals and concerts. Graduate of Warsaw and Sydney Universities, she holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Policy and an M.A. in British Film and TV. She is also a CELTA (Cambridge) qualified teacher of English. Her past employment encompasses work for the Australian federal government, including diplomatic postings to Moscow and Warsaw, teaching English, and interior design and styling projects. Eliza is an avid theatre and film goer and lover of arts and travel. Past resident of Warsaw, London, Moscow, Paris and Sydney, she is thrilled to be able to experience life in cosmopolitan DC and collaborate with its vibrant theatre scene.
Ariana Almajan is excited to reteam with Joe Banno and Ambassador Theater after last fall'sRage! Recently she was seen in "The Trap" as Josie and Grete. DC-area: Student Playwrights Project (Arena Stage), We Are Not Animals (Source Festival),Faceless (Active Cultures Theater), Whenever You're Near Me (I Feel Sick) (Women's Voices Theater Festival), The Trap (Ambassador Theater), Out of Silence (Advocates for Youth/Capital Fringe Festival), and Stone Tape Party (Nu Sass, winner Best Comedy and Best Overall at the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival). TV/Film: America's Most Wanted (Fox), Deadly Affairs (Discovery ID), DC 48-Hour Film Festivals, various local and regional commercials and independent films. She works frequently with Young Playwrights Theater both in schools and on stage with their New Play Festival and New Writers Now Young at Heart. You can see her online in the comedy webseries The ABC's of Online Dating, the fantasy The Broken Continent, and the upcoming comedy Quiet!
SigrÃÃ°ur JÃ³hannesdÃ³ttir (Costume Designer)
Sigríður or Sigrid as she is called here in the United States is a native of Iceland.
She came to the United States 1988 to pursue her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Design after having taught Icelandic and History at Fjölbrautaskóli Suðurnesja, (college) in Keflavik, Iceland for several years.
One year after her graduation 1992, she started her own decorative arts company; Scene Studios, Inc., www.scenestudios.com as well as Dedua, www.dedua.com, a business focusing on fashion accessories. She still runs both companies in Alexandria, Virginia.
Through the years she has designed costumes for various theatrical productions in Washington D.C. as well as worked for the Washington Opera. She is the resident costume designer for The Washington Stage Guild and The Ambassador Theatre in DC. She has taught theatrical design at American University in Washington DC, and in Morgantown, West Virginia. Presently she is in her fourth year of serving as a costume design professor at George Washington University.
Matthew Lindasy Payne
Matthew most recently finished playing Marcel in â€œThirteen Dead Husbandsâ€ (Cohesion Theater Company), for which he received The Bad Oracleâ€™s March 2015 â€œActor Stealing the Spotlight.â€ Previous credits also include Sebastian in Milburn Stone Theatre's "Twelfth Night," James in Single Carrot's "The Pairing Formerly Known As Friends," and Pozzo in Loyola University Maryland's "Waiting for Godot." Matthew is an avid stage combat enthusiast training under Lewis Shaw, and a student of "Kunst des Fechtens," training under Vince Hann.
Colin Davies was recently seen in the title role of Galileoâ€™s Torch (performed in the open air in Rappahannock County and at the Italian Embassy), and was the lead in Death by Design (Greenbelt Arts Center). He has taken part in several Scena Theater productions, including The Marriage of Maria Braun, some Actors Center readings, several British Players productions, and was in Marathon â€™33 (American Century Theater) and Heaven Can Wait (Little Theatre of Alexandria). He has been in episodes of VEEP , House of Cards and Deadly Affairs, and played Neville Chamberlainâ€™s Secretary in the History Channel miniseries The Wars. He is a rockâ€™nâ€™roll DJ, who MCed a recent Buddy Holly tribute and whose weekly radio show can be heard on Radio Fairfax and on www.theprofessorrocks.com
Benjamin Koontz: Ben holds a BFA in Theatrical Performance from West Virginia University. As a trained actor, Ben has starred in numerous professional Summer Stock and Regional companies. Ben has appeared across Pennsylvania and West Virginia in such theatrical roles as Benny Southstreet (Guys and Dolls), Connie (The Grapes of Wrath), Claudio (Measure for Measure), Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing), Jim/Tom/Kenneth (Clybourne Park), Pippin (Pippin), Prince Dauntless (Once Upon a Mattress), John (Monongah Mining Disaster) and Barker(Poe). Alongside his theatrical roles, Ben has portrayed a wide variety of characters in numerous films and television productions such as Ben Hoffman (Spirit World), Sider (You Became I), and Holloway (The Men Who Built America). Aside from his professional acting career, Ben has demonstrated talents in Scenic Design and Props Construction with many professional companies. Some of his favorite Scenic and Props designs include Coriolanus, Extremities and The Dresser. Ben has also served two years as Props Master for Gamut Theater Company in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Morganne Davies (Felice) is thrilled to be making her Ambassador Theater debut! She has performed leading and featured roles in the DC area, New York and at theaters around the country. Favorite roles include: Vanessa in Giant Box of Porn (Field Trip Theater), Princess in Love's Labors Lost, Eunice in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Kitty Verdun in Charley's Aunt (Clarence Brown Theater), Rosalind in As You Like It (Southwest Shakespeare Festival), and Woman 1 in Becket's Play (Chocolate Factory). In addition, Ms. Davies has worked on several independent films in the area several of which have won awards at the DC Shorts and 48 Hour Film Festivals. When she is not on-stage, Ms. Davies runs the drama program at JEB Stuart High School. She has a BA in Theatre from Fordham University, and an MFA in Acting from the University of Tennessee. She is currently pursuing her graduate certificate in Theater Education at George Mason University. Ms. Davies is a proud member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, Association for Theater in Higher Education, Educational Theatre Association, and Actor's Equity. For more information and updates visit her website www.morgannedavies.com.
Alexander Rolinski Biography
Film/Television: Less Of You; Mother; We Kid; The Good Wife (CBS); FOREVER (ABC); Louie (FX); Panic 9-1-1 (A&E). Theater Includes: Dear Edwina; Children of Eden; A Lot of Tall Tales; Everybodyâ€™s Garden. Training: Acting Coach Lilia Slavova (DC) and Penny Templeton (NYC)
Alexander is thrilled to be collaborating with Artistic Director Hanna Bondarewska. Website: www.AlexanderRolinski.com
Facebook: Alexander Rolinski
Melissa B. Robinson (Mother), a Washington, D.C.-based actor, journalist and author, is pleased to make her Ambassador debut with The Trap. Melissa is a 2015 teaching-artist with Shakespeare, Alive!, a professional company that brings performances and on-your-feet actor-oriented activities to Maryland schools. Locally, she has appeared on stage with WSC Avant Bard, Pallas Theatre Collective, force/collision, Rainbow Theatre Project and Forum Theatre (2012 Over The Line festival), among others. Earlier this year, Melissa earned raves for her turn as Silda Grauman in Other Desert Cities at the Highwood Theatre. Film & TV credits include a supporting role in the thriller Deviance, out later this year. Melissa has trained at The Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and studies jazz and modern dance. A professional journalist, she spent a decade with the AP and is the author of The Search for Canasta 404 (UPNE, 2006), a nonfiction narrative book about a missing Vietnam-era Navy pilot. Melissa’s recent work as a travel writer and photographer can be found at Lost in Australia. Thanks to Hanna, cast & crew!
Madeline Burrows is an actor, writer, musician and recent Washington, D.C. transplant from Boston. She is the creator and performer of the critically-acclaimed nationally-touring solo show, MOM BABY GOD, a darkly comedic exploration of youth sexual culture in the American anti-abortion movement. Madeline holds a B.A. in Theatre and Women & Gender studies from Hampshire College and has trained at Shakespeare & Company and with the Tectonic Theatre Project. Madeline is thrilled to make her Washington, D.C. stage debut with the Ambassador Theater. She can be seen this summer in The Wedding Party, which premieres at the 2015 Capital Fringe Festival.
Emily H. Gilson
Emily H Gilson is a DC native who moved back to the city after her graduation from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at SUNY Purchase in 2012 with a double BA in Drama Studies and Medieval History, and she’s so excited to be making her debut with Ambassador Theater! Her previous DC area credits include Tyger (banished? productions workshop, 2014); Dark House (Capital Fringe); a 2011 workshop reading of Ari Roth’s Born Guilty Cycle, under the helm of Mr. Roth and the Theatre Lab; and Iolanthe (Washington Savoyards). Most recently, she was seen in Blind Pug Arts Collective’s Shakespeare in Brookland, an evening of short plays by local playwrights presented as part of opening events for DC’s new Brookland Arts Walk in October 2014. Children’s theatre: Alice in Wonderland (Pandemonium Theatrical Productions); Maryland, My Maryland (Children’s Theatre Association, local tour). TV: Evil Twins; Southern Fried Homicide (Investigation Discovery). Emily is also a company member and Victorian Christmas caroler with 42nd St Singers, a costumed a capella caroling group comprised of local musical theatre and opera talent. Upon her return to DC, she began study with the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory, and is a 2012 alumna of Signature Theatre’s 2-week Overtures musical theatre intensive in Arlington, VA. More information including a demo reel and links to additional work can be found online at www.emilygilsonactor.com.
Originally hailing from Traverse City, Michigan, Abigail Ropp is a graduate of Northern Michigan University with degrees in English and Theatre. Abigail has been performing since her fifth grade big break as a unicorn in the school play, "King Midas and the Palace of Gold." Abigail is an award-winning dramaturg as well and has dramaturged for school groups as well as at the Kennedy Center. She is fascinated with World War II and Polish history and literature, so "The Trap" is a perfect production for her to be a part of. A recent DC transplant, Abigail has fallen in love with the theatre community here and hopes to keep meeting and working with the phenomenal talent in the region.
JOHN BRENNAN, a Huntington, New York native and graduate of Stony Brook University (B.A., Theatre), is appearing in his first production with Ambassador Theater, and working on his second production of a play by Tadeusz RÃ³Å¼ewicz. His various credits include: LOCAL â€” 3 By Samuel Beckett (Henry in Embers), Arcturus Theater [also recorded and broadcast on Radio Fairfax]; American Buffalo (Donnie Dubrow), Studio Theatre; The Receptionist (Mr. Raymond), Studio Theatre 2nd Stage; Julius Caesar (Popilius Lena/Ensemble), The Shakespeare Theatre Company; Scenes From The Big Picture (Shanks O'Neill) (Helen Hayes Nomination, Best Ensemble), Solas Nua; Kit Marlowe (Sir Francis Walsingham), Rorschach Theatre. REGIONAL â€” Glengarry, Glenross (Richard Roma), Wilmington (DE) Drama League; BiaÅ‚e maÅ‚Å¼eÅ„stwo [White Marriage] (Benjamin), Slavic Cultural Center; Twelfth Night (Valentine/Ensemble), PAF Playhouse; Hamlet (Hamlet), Arena Players Repertory. NEW YORK â€” Macbeth (Banquo), 13th Street Theatre; Don Juan (Don Carlos), New York Theatre Ensemble; A Dollâ€™s House (Torvold), Troupe Theatre. TELEVISION â€” The Wire, HBO; Veep, HBO; House of Cards, Netflix; Americaâ€™s Most Wanted, FOX; Rescue Me, FX. John currently lives in Lorton, Virginia, and is delighted to be working with his very talented colleagues.
Peter Orvetti has been acting in the Washington area for the past three years. His most recent major role was in the Capital Fringe Festival hit production "Districtland". He has also appeared in two productions with Arcturus Theater Company, "3 by Samuel Beckett" and "Full Bloom". Peter has worked with Elden Street Players, SCENA, Silver Spring Stage, and Spooky Action Theater, among others. He is a member of the improv troupe Imaginary Numbers and is currently filming the web series "The B League".
Marlowe Vilchez is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College Magna Cum Laude in May 2012 with Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Fine Arts, with a concentration in Theatre. After graduation, he moved to DC to pursue his career as an actor. Last year, he appeared as George Spelvin in The Chevy Chase Players’ production of The Actor’s Nightmare. He also ranked among the top 16 actors in Monologue Madness 2014. He performed in Writing Miss’ Clark’s Resume and Macbeth: Instruments of Darkness as Cesar and Banquo, respectively, at the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival. Most recently, he appeared as Raymond Stitt/ Rage in Ambassador Theater's production of Rage. Marlowe credits all of his success to the two people that raised him Kasandra and Lesby Vilchez.
Ed Klein (Gentleman and Salesman). Ed is an actor working in the Washington Baltimore area. His recent credits include Will in â€œLook homeward Angelâ€ (Compass Rose) The Homeless Guy in Tent of Dreams, an Occuplay (Capital Fringe Festival), Tesla, in Tesla (McClain Players 10 minute Play Festival), Mr. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol (Howard Community College Arts Festival) and Adolph, in Last Night of Ballyhoo (Jewish Theatre Workshop).
Tiffany Pindell is the youngest performer and this is her debut with the Ambassador Theater as Cobbler's daughter. She has performed with Musical arts Theater and Children's Theater Productions and also danced with the academy Ballet. She has been trained in Musical Art Theater, Children's Theater and Academy Ballet.
Classical philologist, interpreter, PhD student of the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw. Currently works at the Theatre Institute (Instytut Teatralny) in Warsaw, teaches Italian and tries to find time to work on her PhD dissertation that focuses on the phenomenon of the holy foolery in films by Andrei Tarkovsky. Her hobbies include art-house films, interpreting and participating in marathon races all over the world.
John is the Technical Director and Assistant Professor of Production Management & Technology for the George Washington University, Department of Theatre & Dance. Prior to GW he taught at Boston University, where he studied in the Masters program and served as the Scene Shop Manager, assisting with both managing the Technical Production Department and teaching numerous courses in Production, advanced wood and metal working. Technical Director: Maine State Music Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Boston University, Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, Catalyst Theatre, New Mexico Ballet. Production Manager: Boston Midsummer Opera, Alan Levanthal Productions. Carpenter: Huntington Theatre Company, Actorsâ€™ Shakespeare Project, Boston Opera, New Repertory Theatre, IATSE Local 62. His design work has been seen in New York City, Boston, D.C. and throughout the country. BA, Colorado College; MFA, Boston University.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Polish poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, satirist and translator of Hungarian poetry. One of the most versatile and creative continuators of the Polish and international avant – garde. Member of the Polish Writers' Association. Often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize. Tadeusz RóÅ¼ewicz died on April 24, 2014.
Tadeusz RóÅ¼ewicz was born September 9, 1921 in Radomsko. His father, WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw, was a junior court clerk and his mother Stefania Maria, of the house Gelbard, was a housewife. Tadeusz had two brothers, the elder Janusz and the younger StanisÅ‚aw. Although RóÅ¼ewicz received an equivalent of GCSE in the Felix Fabiani school, his further education was stopped by the outbreak of World War II.
The War, the Forest and the Pen
In 1939 RóÅ¼ewicz began working as an errand-boy, a warehouseman, and apprentice carpenter in the Bent-wood Furniture Factory – Thonet to help support his family. It was at this time that Janusz RóÅ¼ewicz, the first literary mentor to his brother, introduced him to the Polish literary underground. After a six-month training in an underground Officer Cadet School, Tadeusz was sworn into the Home Army (codename “Satyr”) to fight as part of the guerrilla troops from June 26, 1943 to November 3, 1944.
During this time he wrote poems and edited the newspaper Czyn Zbrojny (Armed Action). He published the tome Forest Echoes, which contained poems, epigrams, humoresques and patriotic, poetic prose together with Janusz in 1944. In these first pieces of RóÅ¼ewicz we can observe a passion for the works of Juliusza SÅ‚owacki and Stefan Å»eromski, as well as a spiritual dilemma akin to his contemporaries such as Krzysztof Kamil BaczyÅ„ski and Tadeusz Gajcy, particularly as they relate to the circumstances of war.
In 1943 Janusz RóÅ¼ewicz wrote to his brother, “You'll write better than me, you'll be a better poet…” In July that year he was arrested by the Germans and was shot and executed on August 3, 1944.
Tadeusz revealed himself to the Liquidation Committee in 1945, received the Polish Army Medal in 1948 and the London Home Army Medal in 1974.
A New Shape of Poetry
Julian PrzyboÅ›, whom the poet had met in the editorial office of Odrodzenie (The Rebirth), brought RóÅ¼ewicz from CzÄ™stochowa, where he had passed his baccalaureate exams, to Kraków. Here Tadeusz began studying History of Art at the Jagiellonian University but never finished. He became involved with the neoavangardist Grupa Krakowska, whose members include Tadeusz Kantor,Jerzy Nowosielski, Kazimierz Mikulski, Andrzej Wróblewski and Andrzej Wajda.
RóÅ¼ewicz gave a new shape to poetry by rebuilding a sense of meaning in life after the tragedy of Auschwitz — a trauma after which, according to Theodor Adorno, nothing authentic could be created anymore. The author has been accused of nihilism and a vulnerability to Western influence (namely Eliot, Pound and Russell) for his expressionistic and catastrophic poetry style, but nevertheless his poetry books Niepokój (Anxiety) (1947) and Czerwona rÄ™kawiczka (The Red Glove) (1948) have been considered revolutionary. CzesÅ‚aw MiÅ‚osz responded to them in one of his tomes, Ocalenie (Salvation).
RóÅ¼ewicz fled to escape the communist regime 1950, the same year his friend Tadeusz Borowski went to Berlin. There he again became fascinated with the universality and the “greyness” of human existence in line with the philosophical ideology of Eyelash by Leopold Staff.
After a year in Hungary, RóÅ¼ewicz came back to Poland and settled in Gliwice with his wife WiesÅ‚awa. The couple had two sons, the elder Kamil in 1950 and the younger Jan in 1953. They lived in poverty away from the literary turmoil. In the book Czas, który idzie (Time to Come) he made ironic remarks about the superimposed order: “Communism will elevate people/ wash off the time of scorn,” as he came to know the bitter taste of the literary milieu's “battue.”
The political thaw after the death of Stalin and the events of 1956 opened Poland to the West. Fascinated by the works of the Paris avant-garde, particularly Beckett and Ionesco, he wrote the drama Kartoteka (The Card Index), his most revolutionary work and contribution to the theater of the absurd. More abstract, neobaroque and formist trials can be found in the poem Zielona róÅ¼a(The Green Rose) and the tome Nic w pÅ‚aszczu Prospera (Nothing Dressed in Prospero's Cloak), parallel with MiÅ‚osz's That.
RóÅ¼ewicz's stylistic invention of file-like text compilation and editing, as observed in the textPrzygotowania wieczoru autorskiego (Preparations to an Authors Soiree), provoked PrzyboÅ› in 1967 to viciously attack RóÅ¼ewicz for “trashy, pop-art ideas.” In 1968 the poet moved to WrocÅ‚aw.
RóÅ¼ewicz’s works have been translated into 49 languages. In 2000 he received the Nike Litarary Award for Matka odchodzi (Mother Departs), a book of poetry containing the author's intimate confessions in the form of poems, notes from the Gliwice Journal and selections from the memoirs of his mother Stefania and his brother StanisÅ‚aw. The text documents are supplemented by family photographs and fragments of written correspondence, including Stefania Mria RóÅ¼ewicz’s letter to Tadeusz from a time shortly before Christmas 1943. A calendar page from 1957 notes on July 16, “Mom died today at 10:20 A.M.” In such moments words evidently reveal their imperfection, even those of a poet even as great as RóÅ¼ewicz.
In his contemporary poetry the author expresses the unrests and embitterments of a generation defined by wartime. In line with his experiences in the Home Army, RóÅ¼ewicz shows a world of relative values with man objectified and dominated by biology or technology. The I-speaker in his poems is a disintegrated personality, devoid of self and lost in a world of collapsing form.
His poems reveal him as a skeptic defiant to the world order rather than one of despair. Piotr Lachmann remarked that RóÅ¼ewicz’s poetry achieved a congeniality effect (as opposed to Brecht's alienation effect). Before Lachman's cameras RóÅ¼ewicz stated his “Discourse about the Void”:
…The Void rages. Completeness doesn't have to. The void has to make itself visible. The void in which biology struggles. The devil is also a void – its strength lies in the fact that you cannot grasp it, it doesn't have a form. And this void is growing. And what happens in it: the most complicated weaponry as yet unseen by any man. Biologically (…) Syphilis or cancer do not threaten or scare us as much as AIDS. Committees gather to recommend the use of condoms, which in turn are forbidden by the Holy Congregation. All this beguiles our life.
RóÅ¼ewicz saw the film during a multimedia evening prepared by Jolanta Lothe and Piotr Lachmann in the Videotheatre Poza in 2003. He read poems from his Szara strefa (The Grey Zone), trying to convince the audience, “I'm not a philosopher, I'm intuitive.” He dismissed congratulations on his acting skill by saying, “I wasted that talent.” Nevertheless, RóÅ¼ewicz demonstrated an excellent feel of the stage during a soiree in the National Theater in 1998:
…What is first? Writing? No. Reading is first. When you're my age, you begin to feel that what you read is equally important to what you write. Sometimes more important, more interesting. Poetic soirees should change. Whenever I listen to my poems read by somebody else, I get the urge to correct them. Or to read somebody else's. I recently came back to Demons by Dostoyevsky, maybe after forty years. There is a genial masterpiece of a description of a soiree. An old writer Karmazinov – whose character was inspired by Turgieniev – he cannot finish reading his “Merci, Merci” humoresque… He read, and read until the young people started teasing him. I was quite abashed by the whole description.
He started reading Staff's Mickiewicz but stopped after the first stanza because of someone's cellphone signal. “Please leave!” sounded the voices from the audience. “Who's to leave? Me? I won't go,” protested the poet. “Where's the fire brigade? Police? Security?”
“Where's good breeding?” came a question from the audience. The owner of the ringing phone finally left. “We had a nice break,” the poet didn't lose his composure. “So now, I will read my poem ‘Where evil comes from’…” At that moment the silence was interrupted by the sound of a camera shutter. The poet stopped reading again. The whole situation seemed straight out of The Scattered File.
His bitter account with the contemporary past, as it tries in vain to find itself in the chaos of contemporary life, is illustrated in his dramas. His debut play The Card Index (written in the years 1958-1959) is a pinnacle achievement in the cannon of post-war drama, opening an emergence of new staging possibilities in Poland and beyond.
The play was published under censorship in the Dialogue magazine (02/1960), and later along withThe Green Rose by the National Publishing Institute in 1961. The full uncensored version was only published by Integral Arts in WrocÅ‚aw 1972. The play first premiered in 1960 in the Dramatical Theater in Warsaw under the direction of Wanda Laskowska.
As Zbigniew Majchrowski remarked, The Card Index is contemporary to The Teutonic Knights in that it was written before man went to space, before the Second Council of Vatican, before the erection of the Berlin Wall and the career of the Beatles.
The strength of the play is the derisive humility the character feels towards himself, and RóÅ¼ewicz towards his character – wrote Jan BÅ‚oÅ„ski. The gibberish in which the author often drowns the action, has a method and aim – a refusal of tragism. Only mockery can save our clear-headedness and thus our freedom… The author evokes an unclear but undefeated hope which he kept at the bottom of his heart. – [Tadeusz RóÅ¼ewicz The Card Index. The Scattered file, Kraków 1997]
The Card Index consists of two images: the internal emptiness of the Character and a flood of phenomenae, people and objects that flows through his room. No other play has changed the face of European drama to the degree that The Card Index has. Since it first premiered its formal novelty has never lost perspicuity, nor has the complicated, firmly Polish subject-matter hindered the play from entering stages abroad. There is nary a season when The Card Index is not published or staged somewhere in the world.
RóÅ¼ewicz's debut play became a classic of theatrical avant-garde, a vivid form of theatre that touches upon the crux contemporary problems. However Konrad Swinarski, who directed the play twice, in 1965 in Tel Aviv and two years later for the Television Theater (with Tadeusz Åomnicki as the Character), muses that it lacks a proper ending:
"If RóÅ¼ewicz only dared to write one more final scene," he said in 1973, “then The Card Indexwould be a contemporary play. It is written in a beautiful language, it has both literary culture and tradition, it's both sensual and political it has everything I value in a play, nevertheless it has no continuation."
The Chronic Forerunner
The Scattered File fulfills Swiniarski's demand and authors the idea of a “play written on stage.” RóÅ¼ewicz experimented to repeat the phenomenon of the Card Index in the free speech reality brought by the Third Republic.
Thus the Scattered File came about, a cycle of open rehearsals which the author directed and played with the actors from November 17 to December 2, 1992 on the camera stage of the Polish Theater in WrocÅ‚aw. Apart from minor changes in the text, most of it are extracts from newspapers, the sermons of Skarga or speeches by PiÅ‚sudski.
The actors brought newspaper articles. One Card Index text about beer grew to be seven. The construction of the play on stage mad its record a lot longer than the canonical version. However, none of the rehearsals of the Scattered File covered everything that was printed in the book.
It was a time of subversive topics such as the illegal trade of human organs, or the argument of the rabbis to give their seal of approval for kosher vodka produced in Polish distilleries. An entire poem is comprised of newspaper adverts. There's another, especially ironic, poem composed of fragments of parliamentary debates. RóÅ¼ewicz, a chronic forerunner, proved that with the disappearance of censorship a new habit came about – uncontrolled garrulity and verbosity. He had found the danger and mocked it in a pastiche of parliamentary debates dominated by empty routine and formalities.
The formal experiment of the Scattered File did not in any way disrupt the integrity and timelessness of the first version. The record of the play gives directors a whole new range of texts which can be scattered and used anew. In 1998 Kazimierz Kutz brilliantly brought the play to the Television Theatre with a highly suggestive vision of the Character, as played both by Jerzy Trela and Krzysztof Globisz, entangled between past and present in the political and mental transformations.
The Wise Man in a Jester's Mask
No one smuggles tradition on stage as successfully and in such a novel way as RóÅ¼ewicz. Although his tradition has been unfairly neglected and ridiculed, the previous century does not know an instance of such an influential Polish writer.
The strength of the author's art lies in the ability to combine opposites. On one hand he uses a classical, sophisticated form, but implements it to deliver fresh and unconventional content. He also performs the same strategy in reverse: subjects from the past are often given innovative forms of expression, so that his creations are ambiguous, disturbing and universal at once.
His plays feature a duality of characters who come from the intelligent class (however, he also finds room for simple peasants, like WaluÅ› in Do piachu or Wrona in The Card Index). Personages whose noble duties (God, honour, fatherland) have been questioned in the post-yaltan reality and doomed to failure; futile, eternal rebellion; or giving up and opportunistically subjugating oneself to illusory comforts; these were all visible in the drama, “Witnesses or our little stabilization.”
Few can deal with the media as well as RóÅ¼ewicz. However, deeming his creations journalistic would be a gross simplification. As a clear-sighted observer and amateur of the press he subjugates the intake of news to artistic treatment. Under his penmanship they become metaphors for the fate of the contemporary man. In line with the romantic traditon RóÅ¼ewicz both disdains and admires, everyone can find a reflection of their own life in his characters as they are anchored in the specifics of history.
In the play He Left the House, forty-year old Ewa, anxious about her husband’s long absence, calls for the police. She and her daughter Gizela have difficulties giving a description: “Daddy was nondescript, not much like anything, like everyone.” Meanwhile the amnesia-stricken Henryk wanders around town, finally reaching a cemetery where he is witness to an excellent “Shakespearean” scene: two undertakers over a grave where lies “at one time a martyr, at another a knave.” Afterward he comes back home, merrily lacking the memory. However, his wife soon starts to “educate” him, filling his head with judgments and stereotypes. Henryk absorbs the cliches compliently, but later comes back to his senses to again leave the house.
RóÅ¼ewicz’s dramaturgy has a renewable value thanks to the irony infused in the obstacles of his plays. Year after year these works affirm his prophetic talent. In each rendition, his predictions regarding the destruction of the natural environment arouse as much emotion as they did in the premiere. The vision of trash falling through the cafe windows in A Woman Sits remains terrifying. Although we have made some progress since the play was written, the world is still heading towards self-annihilation – war continues, environmental issues continues to dominate the news.
On All Fours tells the story of an old infantile writer, who like the brilliant French painter Maurice Utrille, is happiest about his electric train. Laurent's fun is disturbed by the overprotective maid Pelasia and the swarm of intruders who want to bask in his glory. His office will soon be invaded by “The Girl” who presumably wants to write a dissertation. However, she doesn't spare any efforts to seduce him, quickly becoming his wife and heiress. The dead Laurenty will still be sipping Pelasias soup in his apartment – now turned into a museum — where the Widow shows the Profane around telling completely delusive stories.
RóÅ¼ewicz’s works often annoy, provoke, and occasionally incite outrage. The hyper-charged sexuality of the characters in his morally subversive and pioneering White Wedding tore apart the atmosphere of an old gentry manor, in which to girls became women. The erotic staffage – now really naive – provoked a critical outcry, among them party members such as Atrur Sandauer. Meanwhile the first post-war topless scene, with Barbara SuÅ‚kowska as Paulina under the direction of Tadeusz Minc, brought crowds of spectators to The Small Theater.
Do Piachu earned itself a bad reputation among the Home Army veterans. RóÅ¼ewicz describes guerrilla life, but without the patriotic highs, presenting what other often fail to mention: the mud, dirt, lice, blood, poor quality food, the disconnection from our close ones, the absence of women, the severe discipline. WaluÅ›, a village peasant who dreams of seeing Kraków and CzÄ™stochowa, comes back from a predatory excursion. His two superiors who took part in it have made off with the loot. The commanders focus their anger on the boy with animal treatment to which he uncertainly obeys. RóÅ¼ewicz’s anti-epic about anti-heroes, the absurdities of war and the dehumanization it causes, futile sacrifice in the name of a restrictive law, caring for thy neighbor, his pain, suffering and death, probes the boundaries of human debasement and sacrifice.
The outrage of the veteran milieu that broke out after the first two stagings of the play (by Tadeusz Åomnicki in the Warsaw Teatr Na Woli in 1979 and Kazimierz Kutza The Television Theater in 1991) caused the author to place limitations on access to his works. Of late, only Janusz OpryÅ„ski and Witold Mazurkiewicz have succeeded of late, on behalf of from the Provisorium Theater and the Theater Company in Lublin, in 2003.
Neither scandal nor subversiveness alone necessitates greatness, as some worshipers of theatrical currents may assert; these qualities must be supported by artistic justification.
The contents of the play Trelemorele can be best summed up in the subtitle: “A soap opera for public and private television.” RóÅ¼ewicz blantantly undermines the language of the medium that in attempt to be endearing ultimately becomes jibberish mixed with a dose of kitsch and perversity. The family in front of the set consumes the medley of images that flow out of debilitating game shows, infantile commercials, imbecile series and unreliable news. A nervous walk among the channels doesn't change anything. Everywhere it is the same thing, equally nauseous and hopeless.
The timelessness of his plays, avant-garde in form and rebellious in content, is also not confirmed by the frequency in which these works are staged. Despite being a few decades old they retain a contemporary bite. With bitter irony they show the everyday life of the Warsaw intelligence, as seen by one of the most clear-sighted annalists of Polish reality in recent history.
His plays provoke imagination with a metaphorical, intelligent and often razor-sharp language. The longevity of those plays abroad indicates that his language resonates with an international audience.
RóÅ¼ewicz addresses the most serious matters in a fickly, roguish manner, a subversive, who like StaÅ„czyk, dons the jester's mask to shamelessly hit you in the face with the truth.
Author: Janusz R. Kowalczyk, July 2013.
JANUSZ R. KOWALCZYK
Editor at Culture.pl since 2009, specializes in literature. Graduate of: theatre studies and film studies at the Jagiellonian University, a part-time screenwriting course at the National Film School in ÅódÅº. Artist of the cabaret Piwnica pod Baranami (1978-1987), theatre critic for "Rzeczpospolita" (1990-2009). Awards: Zbigniew Raszewski Prize, a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Author of "WracajÄ…c do moich Baranów" (published by Trio, 2012), a book about the Piwnica pod Baranami cabaret, and more.