22 October 2009 Gardzienice's Cosmos Festival's event

One of the most interesting and eagerly awaited events of the 1st Joseph Conrad International Literature Festival in Krakow will be the spectacle entitled Kosmos (Cosmos) by the Gardzienice theatrical group. The spectacle will be the first performance of the famous theatrical marathon of actors of the director and founder, Włodzimierz Staniewski to take place outside their home stage of Ośrodek Praktyk Teatralnych Gardzienice (The Centre of Theatrical Practices Gardzienice).

On Thursday and Friday (5th and 6th November) at 8 pm, the space of Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna im. Ludwika Solskiego or PWST) in Krakow (ul. Straszewskiego / Straszewskiego Street 21-22) will be taken over by one of the most interesting Polish theatrical groups. The two evenings will present two parts of a theatrical masterpiece: the spectacle, composed of the Methamorphoses by Apuleius, the Odyssey and Iphigeneia by Euripides, will be presented in the form of a theatrical marathon, with reference to the main motif of the fourth day of the Festival: the Temptation of the Myth. The impressive mixture of the art of dramatization, text and music is the result of many years of thorough studies which the theatrical group from Gardzienice has been conducting for many years. The research has concerned predominantly the ancient roots of the theatre and has led to the resurrection of many long forgotten and unused techniques of acting; in has also contributed to reviving the ancient meanings of dramatic texts and reinterpretation of myths. A vital role in the studies is played by singing and the concept of the birth of drama out of the spirit of music. The vocal skills of the actors as well as the “organism” of the chorus impress with the coherence and the scale of their dramatic power. Myths, gods and divine forces mingle on the stage, while ecstatic Dionysian dances are unleashed.

Individual parts of Kosmos have been successfully staged in Now York, London, Berlin and Moscow, earning great appreciation for the director and the actors. The Los Angeles Times wrote about Gardzienice: “Those who dismiss avant-garde theater as a sham perpetuated by the intellectually supercilious have never encountered this group. It’s the real thing, a dedicated collective that brings us as close to the divine essences of art and the theater as we are likely to get in this frictional, fractious culture.” An additional attraction of this adaptation of Iphigeneia will be its rare musical rendering by the orchestra conducted by Mikołaj Blajda.

Earlier, on Tuesday (3rd November), Shakespeare’s Othello directed by Maciej Sobociński will be staged in Scena na Sarego of Teatr Bagatela (the Bagatela Theatre, the Stage on Sarego Street 7). The spectacle will be a faithful adaptation of the play, although it will involve contemporary costumes and a minimalist, geometrically designed, light space. Despite this, Sobociński’s Othello will remain fundamentally the original drama of desire, accusations of betrayal, and finally – of death. The otherness of the Shakespearean hero is not superficial in this play and concerns something much less visible than a different skin colour. His difference has to do with the deepest dimensions of his identity – cultural, political, social and existential. Desdemona’s murder is inevitable in Sobociński’s adaptation, it is prophesied in a repeated scene of Othello carrying the body of his dead wife. This Othello is an Othello seen from the perspective of a murder that has already happened; the scenes of the play constitute a retrospective attempt at understanding the origins of the tragedy. The viewers become the spectators of an intrigue masterfully directed by Iago, and from the very beginning they are aware of its tragic ending.