The Warsaw Voice » Culture » Monthly - July 13, 2016
Culture
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What’s New in Polish Theaters
   
Hideous Men

A new play based on a book by American writer David Foster Wallace opened at Warsaw’s Dramatyczny Theater May 20. Entitled Hideous Men (Polish title: Obrzydliwcy), the play is directed by Marek Kalita.

Regarded as one of the most outstanding writers of his generation, Wallace (1962-2008) combined great erudition with linguistic precision and attention to detail. His narratives were permeated with critical reflection and irony.

A Polish translation of Wallace’s collection of short stories Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was hailed as a major literary event in this country when it appeared last year.

The characters in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men are mostly men—cynical, inconspicuous sex addicts, focused on themselves and their own needs, often undergoing some kind of therapy. Their stories are marked by dark, dry humor, alienation and unconventional sexuality.

Dramatyczny Theater, Przodownik Stage
Warsaw, 21 Olesińska St.

Play About Anti-Semitism and More

Warsaw’s Jewish Theater is staging a play that revisits Poland’s communist anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968, which triggered a mass emigration of Polish Jews.

Created by the director-playwright duo of Monika Strzępka and Paweł Demirski, the play is entitled March 68: Have a Good Life, It’s the Best Revenge (Polish title: Marzec '68. Dobrze żyjcie - to najlepsza zemsta). It opened May 14.

While not a historical drama or documentary, the play is about learning lessons from history, Strzępka and Demirski say. It is also about the ease with which people interpret events to suit their views.

Jewish Theater
Warsaw, 12/16 Grzybowski Sq.

Unbearably Long Embraces and Julius Caesar

Unbearably Long Embraces (Polish title: Nieznośnie długie objęcia), a play by contemporary Russian dramatist Ivan Vyrypaev, is now showing at Warsaw’s Powszechny Theater with English subtitles.

Set in New York City and Berlin, the play features four characters: three Europeans newly arrived in NYC in search of a better life, and one native New Yorker born and raised in the city. None of them can find harmony and their lives slowly turn into a nightmare. But an unexpected encounter with “cosmic consciousness” changes their lives forever.

William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is another production playing at the Powszechny with English subtitles.

Political conspiracy, the assassination of a dictator, civil war—while reaching for the story of Julius Caesar’s murder and describing the consequences of that event, Shakespeare was also writing about a conflicted England on the brink of civil war and a society headed for disaster.

The play, directed by Barbara Wysocka, reflects on uncompromising politicians hungry for power who are not ready to accept the responsibility that comes with it. The result is a world of political intrigue in which society can be easily manipulated with well-crafted arguments and financial handouts.

Powszechny Theater
Warsaw, 20 Jana Zamoyskiego St.

Tribute to Soldier Bear

A new drama entitled Wojtek the Bear (Niedźwiedź Wojtek) by Polish playwright Tadeusz Słobodzianek premiered at Warsaw’s Dramatyczny Theater May 6.
Directed by Ondrej Spišak, the play is inspired by the real story of a Syrian brown bear that in 1942 was adopted by soldiers from the Second Corps of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, commanded by Gen. Władysław Anders and stationed in Iran at the time.

Strange as it may sound, the bear was officially registered as a soldier with the rank of private and was subsequently promoted to corporal. He accompanied the Polish soldiers from Iran through Syria, Palestine and Egypt to Italy, where he played a role in the 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino.

After the war, Wojtek spent the rest of his life in a zoo. He died in 1963.

Dramatyczny Theater, Na Woli Stage
Warsaw, 22 Kasprzaka St.

Play It Again, Sam

Play It Again, Sam, one of Woody Allen’s funniest comedies, opened at the Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Cracow May 14.
The play tells the story of a neurotic film critic who tries to get over his wife leaving him by dating again, much by the help of a married couple and his imaginary alter ego.

The main character has fantasies and conducts inner monologues trying to find the best recipe for further life. He eagerly seeks an ideal partner, but is surrounded by strong women full of charm.

The play is filled with absurd humor combined with cruel satire and deadly seriousness. Witty dialogues touch on some of Allen’s most important topics and fascinations, including cinema, New York, music, love and the passing of time.

The play also tackles the problem of male-female relationships shaped by stereotypes stemming from pop culture.

Juliusz Słowacki Theater, Miniatura Stage
Cracow, 2 Św. Ducha Sq.
(MR)