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Krzysztof Warlikowski and Collaborative Processes to Performance


Krzysztof Warlikowski Nowy Teatr TR Warszawa ensemble directing acting collective creation Polish theatre intertheatricality Jacky Bratton Redbad Klijnstra Małgorzata Szczęśniak Jacek Poniedziałek Stanisława Celińska Grzegorz Jarzyna Magdalena Cielecka Andrzej Chyra Maja Ostaszewska Renate Jett Danuta Stenka Piotr Gruszczyński Ewa Dałkowska (A)pollonia Peter Brook Krystian Lupa Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik Mariusz Bonaszewski The Tempest Cleansed The Taming of the Shrew


Justyna Drobnik-Rogers studied Theatre and Drama at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and at Dartington College of Arts, UK. She has worked in theatres both in Poland and in the United Kingdom. She has a PhD from the University of Manchester, with a dissertation investigating the work of Krzysztof Warlikowski and his process of making performances. Her articles on Polish and British theatre have appeared in Didaskalia, Dialog, and Theatre Forum.

Anyone familiar with mainstream Polish theatre is doubtless able to name at least a few actors and collaborators associated with the theatre of Krzysztof Warlikowski. These artists constitute his so-called zespół (ensemble) and as such – although this is rarely acknowledged – they take an extensive role in the co-creation of Warlikowski’s oeuvre.

Their collaborative practice has evolved away from, and now bears little resemblance to typical practice within the Polish repertory theatre system in which Warlikowski has worked for much of his career.[1] Although Warlikowski’s theatre has attracted considerable media and critical attention throughout Europe over the past decade, the trajectory of his development as a director, the process by which his ensemble was created, and the core relationships that have emerged within it, as well as the particular characteristics of his rehearsal practice, remain neglected areas of research. This essay aims to make a contribution towards filling this gap, and to shed light on how the work of Warlikowski and his collaborators comes into being. An awareness of various key processes involved in their approach will help to clarify the ethos that underpins this theatre-making, which is based on the exceptional levels of commitment of the creators, the ‘authenticity’ of their contributions, and the quest to share their personal experiences with spectators.[2]

The collaborative process that led to the establishment of Warlikowski’s ensemble, which was closely linked to the director’s personal search for his own ‘theatrical language’, can be traced through several different aspects. These include the complex network of connections and interdependencies that exist between the director and his co-creators, their personal histories (which shape and determine their performance-making to a significant extent), and the impact of certain external circumstances, such as Warlikowski’s formative experiences abroad and the limiting infrastructure of Polish repertory theatre.

In order to trace how all of these elements influence Warlikowski’s theatre practice, I will employ the concept of intertheatricality developed by Jacky Bratton.[3] Modelling her theory on Julia Kristeva’s definition of intertextuality, Bratton analyses nineteenth-century British theatre through the relationships that exist between various theatrical ‘texts’, which she claims are interdependent and which establish the true background and wider conditions of each theatre production. As Bratton explains: ‘By intertheatricality I mean that mesh of connections between theatre texts and between texts and their creators and realizers that makes up the moving, multi-dimensional, cross-hatched background out of which individual performances, nights at the theatre, regularly crystallise’.[4] Thus defined, intertheatricality extends the notion of what can be considered significant material in investigating or interpreting a given production. In the case of Warlikowski’s practice, this allows for a consideration of the dynamic, transient, and fluctuating processes within his and his collaborators’ personal lives, which are so crucial to this theatre.

This paper looks for connotations within – and creates ‘theatre texts’ from – the conditions and circumstances that surround both Warlikowski’s creative process and the ‘post-premiere’ production histories of his performances.[5] What, then, constitutes the web of interdependencies that serve as ‘theatre texts’ in this analysis? Largely, they fall into the following groups: 1) elements of Warlikowski’s professional and private biography; 2) the background and infrastructure of Polish repertory theatre (the circumstances around Warlikowski’s debut, the actors’ professional connections and employment at various theatres, and so on); 3) the ‘familial’ environment within which the ensemble operates; 4) the individual artists’ biographies and their impact on the relationships within the ensemble; 5) the shared creative process of rehearsals.

Krzysztof Warlikowski. Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Krzysztof Warlikowski. Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Intertheatricality and Roberto Zucco

I will begin my intertheatrical analysis with a case study: Warlikowski’s production of Bernard-Marie Koltès’ play Roberto Zucco (Poznań’s Teatr Nowy, 1995), which can be considered here as an embryonic form for many of the director’s later theatre-making processes.[6] By the time Warlikowski commenced his work on Zucco, he had been working actively in theatre for two years, having secured a professional debut at one of the country’s most prestigious repertory theatres, the Stary Teatr (Old Theatre) in Kraków – a noteworthy step for a young graduate director in Poland. Another distinctive feature of this early stage in Warlikowski’s career was marked by the opportunities created by the European festival circuit,[7] thanks to which Warlikowski had the unique chance to work under the patronage of some of the most prominent directors in European theatre, such as Peter Brook,[8] Giorgio Strehler,[9] and Ingmar Bergman.[10] Inevitably, this experience abroad, juxtaposed with his intensive exposure to the repertory theatre system in Poland, had a considerable impact on Warlikowski’s thinking about his own theatrical language, and perhaps triggered an awareness of the creative potential of forming his own company.[11]

The production of Roberto Zucco inaugurated the considered and ongoing process of gathering the collaborators who constitute the core of Warlikowski’s ensemble today. This adaptation of Koltès’ play is a key example of intertheatricality operating at many levels. Firstly, it illustrates how the resemblance between the director’s and the playwright’s biographies plays a role in Warlikowski’s process of self-discovery, and exemplifies his practice of working on texts that resonate with his own life experiences. Secondly, it reveals the connection between the actor Redbad Klijnstra and the character of Zucco and illustrates the particular way in which the actor’s personal background was employed in creating this role (Warlikowski’s collaboration with Klijnstra was also fundamental to the subsequent creation of his ensemble). Furthermore, the production evinces the first signs of Warlikowski’s discontent with the limitations of the Polish repertory theatre apparatus, and thus initiates the director’s process of moving beyond the rigid borders presented by this theatrical model. It should be noted that the significance of this early production seems largely to have been overlooked in existing analyses of Warlikowski’s career, and that the key phases of his work are usually considered to have occurred much later.[12]

Redbad Klijnstra in Warlikowski’s production of Roberto Zucco (1995). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Redbad Klijnstra in Warlikowski’s production of Roberto Zucco (1995). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

From an intertheatrical perspective, staging Koltès’ text significantly influenced Warlikowski’s discovery of his own personal and professional vocabularies, and points of reference. Koltès and Warlikowski have much in common: homosexuality, the initial marginalisation of their work in their native countries, a feeling of displacement within their own cultures, and a need to challenge their audiences by questioning myths and engaging with controversial issues linked to otherness and marginality. In Koltès’ play, Warlikowski discovered themes that were personally familiar: notably, being an outsider and the need to escape imposed social restrictions. Like Koltès, Warlikowski felt the urge to question many of the traditional values of contemporary society. Both authors left their Catholic families and moved away from their home towns – first, to travel, and then to settle in new environments (Koltès moved from Metz to Paris, Warlikowski from Szczecin to Kraków). Both shared the belief that only detaching yourself from the society of your birth can help you to discover your ‘true’ identity. Warlikowski has commented: ‘It appeared that Koltès is somebody really close to me, and in his play [Roberto Zucco] all my own problems are reflected. […] Koltès has shown me the way towards myself; he made me take a look at myself and define my individuality. His “otherness” and my own were very similar’.[13] This connection between the director and the playwright was fuelled by Warlikowski’s profound need to define his own identity through and within his theatre work. Roberto Zucco acted as a stimulus: Warlikowski found the material that helped him to confront and scrutinise his own experience, to examine his previous professional and life choices, and thus to engage in a process of self-discovery.

Another important ‘theatre text’ determining the significance of the production is constituted by the appearance of Redbad Klijnstra, who played Zucco.[14] The plot of Roberto Zucco follows the story of the eponymous serial killer, who is driven by unknown forces to commit apparently motiveless crimes. The narrative portrays the efforts of a lost young man struggling to define his identity, and to find a place within his family and society. This brief synopsis gives an indication of some key elements that interested Warlikowski in the play, while also reflecting certain elements of his own biography. In preparing the production, Warlikowski also managed to disregard the usual repertory theatre obligation to select the cast from among the resident company of actors at the Teatr Nowy, and to invite a guest actor (Klijnstra) to play Zucco.

Why was Klijnstra’s presence in this production so crucial to Warlikowski? Significantly, Warlikowski found some parallels with his own experience in Klijnstra’s personal history. Being half-Dutch and half-Polish, Klijnstra grew up in Amsterdam and his view of theatre was formed by various socially engaged productions that he encountered there.[15] In Klijnstra’s eyes, the more ‘academic’ productions prevalent in Poland at the turn of the 1990s, which were filled with national symbolism and metaphorical references to the developing political situation, bore little relevance to contemporary, individual experience. For Klijnstra, theatre was a vocation that held a responsibility to deal with social issues from a personal perspective. After graduating from the Theatre Academy in Warsaw in 1994, he therefore considered returning to the Netherlands:

It was a very strange moment. I knew I didn’t want what I’d seen in Poland, and I didn’t buy into what they were telling us at drama school, that theatre is [only] a profession. For me, something more important was needed, some kind of necessity… And then Krzysiek [Krzysztof] appeared and it was fascinating. I realised later that it wasn’t a meeting between a director who’d become interested in an actor, but a meeting of one human being who had become interested in another human being. Krzysiek wasn’t trying to convince me about himself as a director, but rather about the subject, the substance of the play.[16]

Klijnstra’s approach to theatre complemented that of Warlikowski. Moreover, the plot of Roberto Zucco resonated with Klijnstra’s own experiences. In this role, Klijnstra not only appeared to be ‘against’ a society that did not understand him, but in his position as a guest-actor, he remained ‘outside’ the permanent group of actors at the Teatr Nowy. Klijnstra recalls:

For me, this was a very difficult situation. The actors comprised a very integrated ensemble... [Although] a few of them supported the project from the very beginning, the rest of the team struggled to accept it. […] Krzysiek had to spend a lot of time explaining his ideas and convincing the actors to engage with the production. In order to create this particular climate, there had to be a great deal of discussion with the actors.[17]

Consequently, the private relationships and individual exchanges among the actors significantly influenced the stage environment in which the artists constructed their roles. The impact and efficacy of this dynamic within the work itself caused Warlikowski to realise the value of creating theatrical situations directly linked to real-life happenings and relationships, which could serve as foundations for the stage microcosm and as material for its development. As a result, merging the dynamics of the theatre practice with the private lives of the creative team became an important feature of Warlikowski’s theatre.

The presence of Koltès’ play in the repertoire at the Teatr Nowy in Poznań was quite unusual, especially given the venue’s regular line-up of classical adaptations and commercial musicals, and its predominantly conservative, middle-class audience.[18] In this context, perhaps Warlikowski’s presentation of Roberto Zucco as an ‘experimental’ production, and the participation of a ‘foreign’ actor from the capital were the major factors that propelled this young, inexperienced director into the ranks of the local theatre celebrities.[19] The performance received great acclaim not only among local critics and their national counterparts,[20] but also among the audience at grassroots level – especially the students who ‘invaded’ the theatre and regularly waited outside the venue to meet the artists and share their views. Through staging the controversial story of Zucco in Poznań, Warlikowski realised how vital it was to be supported by artists such as Klijnstra, with whom he shared both a philosophy of theatre and a willingness continually to investigate its premises. Thanks to such support, Warlikowski was able to broach subjects and issues that would have been otherwise inaccessible to him as a repertory director. The encounter with Klijnstra was the first indication of the significant role played by actors in Warlikowski’s theatre-making.

This fundamental discovery regarding the potential influence of ensemble members also reveals Warlikowski’s special interest in people who are somehow marginalised in society; his ensemble continues to be characterised by his fascination with ‘otherness’. Magdalena Cielecka, one of the ensemble’s principal actors, confirms that ‘Krzysiek likes people who are original, unconventional, eccentric, because this is what he is himself. This mosaic, this mixture of people fascinates him. People are his fuel; he observes our lifestyle and behaviours. This is what he uses to build [his productions]’.[21] From very early in his career, Warlikowski began to ‘feed’ his theatre from the experiences of his collaborators, and his own private life also became integral to the creative process. For the whole ensemble, theatre-making becomes a process of ‘writing’ biography and autobiography.

Creating the Ensemble

Warlikowski’s early explorations of intertwining theatre-making with personal life experiences engendered a specific type of artistic environment that attracted other artists who were similarly prepared to cross the borders of professional engagement, and to share material from their own lives in the creation of performances. These artists gradually began to establish a unique kind of organism, resembling a family unit. How has this organism come into being, and what kind of ‘theatre text’ does it represent? How does the nature of this organism influence and determine its methods of performance-making?

Warlikowski’s ‘familial’ ensemble is rooted in his marriage to the scenographer Małgorzata Szczęśniak, whom he met during his undergraduate studies in Kraków.[22] Warlikowski’s and Szczęśniak’s ‘family’ was engendered by a mutual passion for theatre – for directing and scenography, respectively. Szczęśniak recalls:

At the beginning, nothing fit. He […] came from nowhere and I’d been living in Kraków, I was already established and was older. Being together has changed us both. Finding a partner in life is a miracle that not many experience. And if it happens, you need to look after it. In such a relationship [...] monogamy is not the most important thing.[23]

Jacek Poniedziałek, the director’s former homosexual partner of eighteen years and long-time actor in the ensemble, also refers to his first encounter with Warlikowski:

Krzysiek was completely eccentric and non-Polish when he turned up at the theatre school in Kraków in the late 1980s. He was considered ‘original’ and unconventional, being openly homosexual and having a wife who was also very eccentric. […] I was attracted to him as an artist, but also as a man, even though I didn’t come to terms with this for a while. I knew that he was married and I didn’t think that we could be together.[24]

These two commentaries point to the right of each individual to ‘define significant relationships and decide who matters and counts as family’.[25] This kind of relationship echoes the concept of the ‘family of choice’ outlined by Jeffrey Weeks, Catherine Donovan, and Brian Heaphy, whose research has focused on the kinds of familial intimacies that go beyond the traditional construction of family.[26] The authors observe that:

Family is [...] traditionally [...] seen as the very foundation of society. It is also a deeply ambiguous and contested term in the contemporary world [...]. It is surely of great significance, therefore, that the term is now in common use among many [...] self-identified, non-heterosexuals. Increasingly, it is being deployed to denote something broader than the traditional relationship based on lineage, alliance and marriage, referring instead to kin-like networks of relationships, based on friendship, and commitments ‘beyond blood’.[27]

As a result of their close personal and artistic contact, Warlikowski’s private relationships with his wife and partner significantly informed their professional lives, and this principle was analogously extended in different ways to relationships with other collaborators. This process of gathering like-minded artists and blurring the division between their private and professional lives has turned out to be a complex journey. From this perspective – following the aforementioned phase of work on Roberto Zucco, which initiated Warlikowski’s trajectory towards his own ensemble – three consecutive stages can be indicated as fundamental, each of which I will examine here: Warlikowski’s initial phase of work in Warsaw in the 1990s, his extended collaboration with TR Warszawa (the re-named Teatr Rozmaitości, or Warsaw Variety Theatre) from 1999 to 2007, and his process of establishing the Nowy Teatr (New Theatre), from 2008 to the present.

Krzysztof Warlikowski and Małgorzata Szczęśniak. Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Krzysztof Warlikowski and Małgorzata Szczęśniak. Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

The first key period was based at the Dramatyczny (Drama) and Studio theatres. The conditions within these repertory venues – with their rigorously limited and defined hours of rehearsal,[28] and their permanently employed actors juggling theatre work with the better-paid television and film opportunities available in the capital city – emerged as obstacles to Warlikowski’s experiments, which were based on long meetings that extended far beyond the scheduled rehearsal times and required an unusual level of involvement from his actors. The support given to the then-unknown director by actors who instinctively trusted his methods was particularly valuable at this stage. This is clearly demonstrated by Warlikowski’s encounter with Danuta Stenka, who – significantly from an intertheatrical perspective – held a well-established position in the permanent troupe at the Teatr Dramatyczny.[29] Stenka was able to use her position to convince her fellow actors of the merits of the work, thus helping to create a ‘safety net’ within which Warlikowski could pursue his unfamiliar working processes. She recalls the rehearsals for Electra:

It was an amazing way of working, searching through long conversations at night, watching various films together, and altering the [play]-texts. It was completely new to me, because before I’d worked on roles in the typical way – receiving the text and working alone on the part. This time it was like a beautiful adventure, a long expedition. It wasn’t just one job among others, rehearsing between various other duties – rather, I remember it as one integrated period in my life, because all these long preparations somehow filled my life.[30]

Stenka’s willingness to commit to a new approach and her vital personal interventions further highlight a crucial aspect of the continued development of Warlikowski’s theatre within the rigid circumstances imposed by the repertory system: the dependence on like-minded artists with whom he has been able to co-develop creatively.

Jacek Poniedziałek (left) and Maciej Stuhr in Warlikowski’s production of Angels in America (2007). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Jacek Poniedziałek (left) and Maciej Stuhr in Warlikowski’s production of Angels in America (2007). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

The nature of this kind of relationship is further exemplified by Warlikowski’s collaboration with the established actor Stanisława Celińska[31] at the Teatr Studio.[32] Celińska suggests that through their encounter, ‘the layer of disbelief in the theatre that I had built up over the years began to break’.[33] What caused such a mature and experienced actor to regain her ‘belief’ in the profession, and to invest so extensively in her collaboration with a young, barely known director still learning his craft? One factor is that both artists shared the conviction that theatre filtered through real-life experiences holds a potential therapeutic value for both creators and spectators. This is based on two assumptions: firstly, that the complex processes to which the actors (or in Warlikowski’s terms, the creators) subject themselves during rehearsals – and which often involve confronting personal traumas and issues that they would normally avoid facing – can result in the overcoming of their suffering; secondly, that this in turn influences the audience, who can sense the extent of the creators’ personal involvement and are consequently encouraged to engage with their own traumas and limitations.[34] The collaboration with Celińska – a talented actor widely respected among theatre audiences – bolstered Warlikowski’s confidence and accelerated the pursuit of his investigations. Celińska’s influence on Warlikowski’s directorial decisions has been significant[35] and she has consistently helped and supported several actors who have struggled with Warlikowski’s acting style and working methods.[36] She became another crucial member of the ‘familial’ organism.

Over time, such experiences have led Warlikowski to consider it essential for the journey of creating a performance to be shared by a collective of people who trust and know each other well, and who share similar life experiences and convictions about theatre. From an intertheatrical perspective, this vital process of finding like-minded artists helped to encourage and hasten Warlikowski’s artistic growth; however, the nature of their dispersed employment between various repertory theatres formed a significant obstacle to their ongoing collaboration. Grzegorz Jarzyna’s invitation to Warlikowski to collaborate with TR Warszawa brought the unique possibility of gathering several such individuals together, and thus constituted the second key phase in the development of Warlikowski’s ensemble.[37] Warlikowski would continue to work at TR Warszawa from Hamlet in 1999 to Angels in America in 2007.[38] Jarzyna and Warlikowski already knew each other well from Kraków, where they had studied under the eminent director Krystian Lupa, and both shared a belief that theatre should be engaged in commenting on contemporary society, whilst simultaneously nourishing new ideas and reinterpreting the classical canon.[39]

Thanks to this artistic fusion, Warlikowski’s key collaborators, such as Poniedziałek, Celińska, and Klijnstra were able to secure permanent employment at TR. Soon, others such as Andrzej Chyra, Magdalena Cielecka, and Maja Ostaszewska – the latter two already employed at TR by Jarzyna – became crucial additions to Warlikowski’s informal ‘company’. Inevitably this process required considerable effort, which was rewarded, as Klijnstra explains: ‘[Warlikowski] managed to gain an increasingly larger group of [actors] without losing anyone in negotiations. Thus, he devoted a lot of energy in this initial period in order to get the people he believed in. […] Being a good actor isn’t everything. The most important thing is whether you’re moving together in the same direction’.[40]

Although he has worked extensively abroad, collaborating with the actors gathered around TR Warszawa has helped Warlikowski to realise that ‘the strongest theatre comes into being where you have roots, where you speak the same language with both the actors and the audience’.[41] This conviction could be understood both literally and metaphorically. The former relates to our intrinsic ability to communicate in our native tongue and thus to being able to properly express all the feelings, hunches, and experiences that cannot be so clearly articulated in a second language. The latter points to a broader cultural, social, and political context, to working with people who come from similar backgrounds and have comparable life experiences, which can facilitate the establishment of close relationships and agreement about the principles of the theatre-making process.[42] Warlikowski’s sentiment reveals some of the common roots of his ensemble, which contribute to the strength of the ‘family of choice’ organism.

Nevertheless, as with Klijnstra, the case of Renate Jett – an Austrian actor Warlikowski met during his production of The Tempest in Stuttgart (1999) and invited to Poland to work on Cleansed – is an exception, suggesting that similar orientations and artistic beliefs are paramount in Warlikowski’s considerations. Jett understood immediately during their first encounter that ‘Krzysztof goes very far with you as a director; he doesn’t send you, he goes with you – and this is quite unusual’.[43] Despite Warlikowski having been a relatively unknown director and Jett’s minimal knowledge of Poland and the Polish language, she decided to accept Warlikowski’s invitation to Warsaw: ‘It was difficult, but these difficulties made it even more interesting. I felt that there wasn’t much space for me in German theatre. What was happening in Poland was much more interesting to me’.[44] Additionally, the uniqueness of this experience was enforced by ‘very strong and interesting actors’ and the rare method of working based on ‘continuous talking to understand more; to grow and to gain awareness through this talking’.[45]

Renate Jett (left) in rehearsal with Krzysztof Warlikowski for (A)pollonia (2009). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Renate Jett (left) in rehearsal with Krzysztof Warlikowski for (A)pollonia (2009). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Warlikowski does not assign the actors tasks related to his prior vision of the performance. As Jett implies, the entire microcosm that is engendered in rehearsals appears as part of a continuous debate. The director also does not impose his own views on the creators; he encourages them to search for answers themselves. He follows this same imperative alongside the actors, sharing and discussing issues that arise for him during the process; this is why his rehearsal period is often enormously long for Polish mainstream theatre.[46] Warlikowski frequently meets and works with his actors individually, devoting himself to the development of their particular characters. At times he also ‘inhabits’ the characters himself, embodying them and trying out their particular ‘language’. Stenka describes Warlikowski as ‘a hybrid of director and actor. When he performs something, it always comes deeply from within himself’.[47] The Nowy Teatr dramaturg Piotr Gruszczyński talks about the director ‘immersing himself totally in rehearsals. The rehearsals absorb him to such an extent that there is probably nothing that could take him out of this world’.[48] Warlikowski’s dedication to ‘go there with an actor’ and to a shared ethic of exploration most often elicits a reciprocal reaction from his co-creators, who remain open to the unpredictable nature of the rehearsal and performance processes.


Magdalena Popławska (left) in rehearsal with Krzysztof Warlikowski for (A)pollonia (2009). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

This distinctive reciprocity and connection between the artists gathered around TR caused Warlikowski to withdraw from his usual directing commitments abroad and to focus on collaborating with his ‘informal’ ensemble.[49] However, a gradual conflict with Jarzyna resulted in a restricted presence for Warlikowski on the Polish stage; his productions were rarely performed at TR Warszawa, and effectively became a festival commodity.[50] This conflict doubtless contributed to Warlikowski’s plans to create what has been widely considered the first auteur theatre in post-war Poland: the Nowy Teatr, which commenced its activities in 2008 and is envisaged as a multi-space centre of culture.[51]

The Nowy Teatr initiative forms the third stage in Warlikowski’s process of ensemble-creation, as it allowed his closest collaborators to be gathered together under one roof (albeit metaphorically for the most part, since the theatre’s proposed building plans are yet to be implemented). In its initial stages, Warlikowski’s ensemble was comprised of ten permanent actors[52] and nine ‘collaborators’ – although this structure began to change in 2010, with the collaborators’ roles no longer formalised.[53] It is perhaps premature to comment extensively on the characteristics of this ensemble, since the particular dynamics of this latest configuration of co-creators are still in negotiation and development as the theatre becomes established. However, it is worthy of note that two of the longest-serving members of Warlikowki’s company, Stanisława Celińska and Redbad Klijnstra, left the core group soon after its formation, though they remained associates of the theatre.[54] The circumstances around their departures have been little-discussed in public, although in an interview in 2009, Celińska hinted at certain of the motivations behind her decision, citing her developing concerns about the increasing extent of the actors’ personal involvement in the ensemble’s recent productions:

...I was no longer distancing myself from the roles within Warlikowski’s performances. They started to take too much out of me. His theatre crosses more and more borders; [now] it is too literal – it’s started to lack metaphysics. What more can happen in such a theatre? Real death? Real sexual intercourse? Real blood? I feel that this is not for me.[55]

Celińska qualifies these remarks by emphasising her support for the experimental orientation of the theatre, and asserts that: ‘one needs to find an inner strength to take radical turns. I’m getting on in years, and I’m aware that I simply don’t manage to understand many things. That’s why I’ve moved away from Warlikowski’.[56] Nevertheless, her commentary raises significant questions about the ongoing direction of the actors’ participation in the working process. At present, it is not possible to comment on this aspect without further investigation of the company’s continuing work; as yet, Celińska has not elaborated on her remarks, and other members of the ensemble have not publicly raised concerns about these issues. However, given the increasing levels of personal investment associated with the work of the Nowy Teatr, the literal aspect of the developing performance style, as well as the ethics of work that accompany it, are important areas for future study.

Unlike Celińska, Klijnstra’s motives for leaving seem to be mainly conditioned by his desire for a more radical approach. His decision lies in the differing perspectives within the company of what constitutes an ‘ensemble’ and of the proposed structure of this new theatre:[57] for Klijnstra, who always held a critical view of the repertory system in Poland and who had previously set up his own company, the opportunity to establish a new institution should be synonymous with the radicalism of the approach to creation.[58] Klijnstra imagined an entirely new organisational structure and considers that there is a need for far-reaching changes in repertory theatre, with actors’ jobs not only limited to performing and with a greater focus on the collective, at the expense of foregrounding individuals. Klijnstra’s evident creative potential as a director perhaps also predestined him to oversee his own artistic projects, and Warlikowski seems to have detected this in Klijnstra’s earlier, occasional ‘withdrawals’ from acting. Despite their artistic divergence and the difficulties inherent to Klijnstra’s transition away from the group, Warlikowski’s openness to this changing situation and his efforts to accommodate his colleague’s development have been notable.[59] For his part, regardless of remaining ‘emotionally connected to Krzysiek’, Klijnstra felt the need to take charge of his time and commitments, noting that: ‘It is likely that my departure [from this theatre] was connected with the fact that I didn’t feel my potential could be fulfilled there’.[60]

Significantly, both Celińska and Klijnstra, regarded as key members of Warlikowski’s core group, decided – albeit for different reasons – to leave prestigious, sought-after positions in what is considered to be among the most promising of European theatres. However, as theatre history demonstrates, well-established, permanent ensembles are few and far between. Warlikowski’s gradual move away from the rigid repertory system and establishment of an alternative mode of organisation seem intrinsically bound to multiple transitions and evolutions within the company, particularly since it is largely dependent on the development and personal fulfilment of its individual members. The ensemble’s resemblance to a ‘family of choice’ implies an extraordinarily committed and ‘organic’ mode of existence, which extends to the circumstances of entries and departures, and which emphasises the full participation and development of all members within the processes of performance-making. The impact of Celińska’s and Klijnstra’s departures remains to be seen; their contributions to the evolution of Warlikowski’s theatre have been highly significant, and this theatre has exerted a considerable influence on their artistic and personal development in turn. Nonetheless, in this latest stage of work, it is certain that Warlikowski has managed to retain the core group of his long-term collaborators intact, either as full-time members or associates at the Nowy Teatr.

Shared Creative Process

Warlikowski began his career in accordance with a concept-based mode of directing common in Eastern European repertory practice, which situates the director as the primary agent in determining how a play is interpreted and performed. Typically the director independently analyses the play, establishes the message to be conveyed, and imposes a vision on those involved in creating the performance. According to this approach, the rehearsal period is designed to transpose this concept onto the stage and usually attempts to provide the most transparent representation of what the director perceives as the playwright’s intentions and ideas. Conversely, the theory of ‘directors’ theatre’ proclaims the director to be an independent ‘scenic writer’ or ‘an artist in his or her own right’.[61] In twentieth-century European theatre, the director achieved increasing agency and the position has come to involve a great deal more than simply directing plays; as David Bradby and David Williams suggest, ‘it was the director’s responsibility to develop a style or idiom specific to theatre within which every element became a significant bearer of meaning’.[62] This was often reflected in directors supplanting or usurping the function of the playwright. Moreover, directors have assumed a range of different functions – from prophets or revolutionary agitators aiming to transform society, to pedagogues and sacred leaders.

Warlikowski represents a category of directors who purposefully seek to diminish their ‘power’ within the ensemble and who see their primary role as the catalyst for the creativity of others. Actors have consequently become an essential component of this theatre-making process and, as such, fully participate in the creation of various different aspects of the stage macrocosm. For example, they may exert considerable influence on the text used in performances, either through direct proposals (as with (A)pollonia in 2008 to 2009, when actors brought together several of the fragments that later constituted the performance-text) or in ‘rewriting’ the text in accordance with their discoveries about the characters in discussions and rehearsals. The actors are also sometimes involved in making casting decisions – for instance, in proposing Ewa Dałkowska as a replacement for Celińska in the touring performances of The Dybbuk when the latter was unable to travel, and in Dałkowska’s subsequent invitation to join the ensemble.[63] Celińska’s considerable role as a focal point for the other actors, and her input on matters of staging also illustrate the extent of the potential influence of the actors in this ensemble. In traditional Polish repertory theatre, actors usually expect the director to be focused on achieving rapid results and to give instructions accordingly; thus the director is encouraged to play the role of an omniscient despot with all-embracing knowledge of the microcosm he or she wishes to establish onstage. Indeed, this very approach was characteristic of Warlikowski’s early work, as he recounts:

When I look at my way of doing Shakespeare in the past, I see how much I used to base everything on what I’d preconceived, […] what was pieced together according to the form. I didn’t take enough from the actors; maybe I didn’t listen enough to their suggestions. We knew very little about each other, the ensembles were different [for each production]. It was only successful later, with actors of the quality of those at the Rozmaitości… Earlier, this Shakespeare had been ‘constructed’ somehow. The externalities – such as the set and costumes – were much more necessary then. Later on, there were more possibilities for the actors.[64]

The approach that Warlikowski went on to implement at TR Warszawa rather resembles the ‘thinking aloud’ rehearsal process practised by Peter Brook, with whom he worked as an assistant. Brook emphasises the inherent openness of this process in The Empty Space:

...all work involves thinking: this means comparing, brooding, making mistakes, going back, hesitating, starting again. The painter naturally does this, so does the writer but in secret. The theatre director has to expose his uncertainties to his cast, but in reward he has a medium which evolves as it responds: a sculptor says that the choice of material continually amends his creation; the living material of actors is talking, feeling and exploring all the time – rehearsing is a visible thinking-aloud.[65]

This description also gets to the heart of Warlikowski’s practice, which entails a long process of digesting the ideas and intuitions that appear in the course of interpreting, discussing, and analysing the text and of relating it to the creators’ life experiences.


Krzysztof Warlikowski during rehearsals for Wozzeck (2006). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Warlikowski’s own process of ‘thinking aloud’ about a performance often begins in earnest during tours of an existing production, through talks in hotel rooms or restaurants. When he worked at TR Warszawa, the process officially began with the so-called próby stolikowe (table rehearsals), in which the whole creative team would meet to read through, discuss, and exchange materials about the text at considerable length. It is perhaps still too early to talk about the current methods used at the Nowy Teatr, as this work is at an embryonic stage of development; however, the creative process leading to the Nowy’s inaugural production (A)pollonia was initiated during a collective holiday taken by the ensemble in Greece in 2008, which incorporated ‘informal’ workshops prior to the official rehearsals.[66] Usually, the entire ensemble is wholly engaged throughout the development of a performance, which requires great patience and multiple, intricate performance ‘drafts’ – which are not always successful. Creative decisions and solutions are often put into question by various members of the ensemble, and if a possibility does not stand up to collective scrutiny the search must continue. The experienced actor Ewa Dałkowska describes this process:

This work is extremely difficult and intense. You go home in the evening after rehearsals and your head wants to explode. This is completely against everything you’ve learned before [as a professional actor]... You need to [approach the work] like a child, to be able to fall over. You do something and this can suddenly be turned completely upside-down. Something that once had a firm foundation suddenly loses its foundation. It can really get to you.[67]

Undoubtedly, practising such a method requires a special code of communication between the director and actors, but also among the actors themselves. When she joined Warlikowski’s company, Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik experienced many feelings of uncertainty, despite having been a long-term collaborator of Warlikowski’s former mentor Krystian Lupa and being familiar with diverse experimental approaches to making theatre. Hajewska-Krzysztofik joined Warlikowski’s ensemble in 2001, already in the advanced stages of work on The Bacchae:

When I came to the first rehearsal I didn’t know if I’d be able to grasp and understand everything. [...] I felt like they were speaking to me in a foreign language. [...] But Krzysiek suggested to me at some point that I [the human being] was what was important, and after such a long time working with Lupa, who works in a completely different way, I felt that at last I could do something myself, with more courage than ever before.[68]

Warlikowski has the capacity to encourage his collaborators to extract their hidden or private characteristics and make concerted use of them in performance. Like Brook, he acts as a catalyst for his actors’ creativity – but there is no one technique for doing so that can be defined as ‘Warlikowski’s method’. The most significant feature – which recurs like a leitmotif in the testimonies of his actors – is the singular approach he takes towards each person. Warlikowski resembles an astute psychologist able to identify the approach that will help each particular personality to flourish, and who normally succeeds in making his actors feel unique and important – both to the creative process and the performance itself. Regardless of complications, he secures the time necessary to allow the actors to develop their roles. For example, Danuta Stenka as Katherina in The Taming of The Shrew first spoke her final monologue – which was crucial to the ensemble’s feminist interpretation of the performance – at the dress rehearsal for the production.[69] Warlikowski allowed her to take the time needed to prepare this section without applying additional pressure, confirming the priority he gives to creating at a pace determined by the actors. Although the role of ‘catalyst’ does not implicate an abdication of a certain directorial control and his work remains a crucial and distinctive component in the ‘authorship’ of the production, this authorship is no longer singular and the rhythm of work is also collectively determined.

Warlikowski remains the person who ‘signs’ the productions, and his name functions as a recognisable indicator of a certain style created with his ensemble, whose impact on the creation of the performance is equally crucial. This results in a shift in the actors’ status, as they undergo a transformation from interpreters (of directorial and authorial instructions) in the repertory theatre mould, to creators who are significant ‘co-owners’ of the production. Facilitating this agency reinforces collective responsibility and deepens the involvement of the actors in the creative process. Additionally, this agency refers to the actors’ consent or willingness to share their personal experiences, so that their private lives become a kind of ‘filter’ through which they interact with the text. Such an approach towards acting echoes established methods of devised theatre that ‘[offer] a different route for the actor, which is often associated with having greater status and input within the overall creation of the theatrical product’, and ‘the chance to explore and express personal politics or beliefs in the formation and shaping of the piece’.[70] Furthermore, Deirdre Heddon and Jane Milling note that such a collective process ‘is more likely to engender a performance that has multiple perspectives, that does not promote one, authoritatative, “version” or interpretation, and that may reflect the complexities of contemporary experience and the variety of narratives that constantly intersect with, inform, and in very real ways, construct our lives’.[71] As a consequence, the creative process can become a liberating experience in which, optimally, the actors and director work together, in a self-reflexive manner, to develop their collective awareness. However, to accomplish this, they need to be willing to undertake the risks of mistakes and failure, and to be persistent in examining the personal motives that give rise to the performance.

Maja Ostaszewska (left) with Andrzej Chyra (background) in rehearsal for (A)pollonia (2009). During the performance, Ostaszewska – a passionate advocate for vegetarianism and animal rights – delivers the fictional writer Elizabeth Costello’s renowned lecture ‘The Philosophers and the Animals’, by J. M. Coetzee. Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Maja Ostaszewska (left) with Andrzej Chyra (background) in rehearsal for (A)pollonia (2009). During the performance, Ostaszewska – a passionate advocate for vegetarianism and animal rights – delivers the fictional writer Elizabeth Costello’s renowned lecture ‘The Philosophers and the Animals’, by J. M. Coetzee. Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

How does Warlikowski facilitate the particular, active involvement of his collaborators in the creative process? What drives the collective search that lies at the foundation of each performance? This engagement is founded on the implementation of democratic rules and principles in rehearsals. In this approach, his work again resembles the type of creation typically associated with devised theatre, which is further defined by Alison Oddey as: ‘a process of making theatre that enables a group of performers to be physically and practically creative in the sharing and shaping of an original product that directly emanates from assembling, editing and re-shaping individuals’ contradictory experiences of the world’.[72] In Warlikowski’s rehearsals, all members of the ensemble are encouraged to dedicate themselves fully to the process through the unrestricted expression of their thoughts, impressions, and proposals relating to the production. Working in an artistically democratic way may take various forms, but there is an overriding commitment to democracy in the most general sense, in that everyone has the right to be involved in making practical decisions, and that there is an ‘emphasis on skill sharing, specialisation, specific roles, increasing division of responsibilities’.[73]

Warlikowski’s ensemble certainly distributes tasks according to individual abilities, and to personal interests and orientations, and Warlikowski understands his own role as helping to ‘open up’ the actors to be receptive to the various impulses that emerge from within the team. The director is still a central figure, but is particularly responsive to the various kinds of sensibilities brought by individual actors, and is acutely aware of their personal approaches to performance process. He also distinguishes one group of actors whom he terms ‘actor-leaders’ – a categorisation that does not imply any artistic judgment on the level of craft or technical capability, and which Warlikowski stresses should not be associated with the term ‘leading actor’. The term ‘actor-leaders’ – he lists Celińska, Jett, and Poniedziałek within this category – does not reflect an organisational hierarchy, but rather designates those actors who ‘convey the subject-matter to the audience, who actualise the message with the most intensity [and who] help those actors who understand being onstage in a more traditional way. This double play [podwójna gra] grabs the attention of the spectators and directs them’.[74] Warlikowski considers these individuals to have a particular disposition that allows them to engage the audience on taboo subjects and to question established social myths. The nature of their participation – which at times may appear confrontational – often stirs the attention of the audience and provokes post-performance debates.[75]

Inevitably, the notion of a democratised creative process is linked to mutual trust. Warlikowski reveals that this premise ‘depends entirely on the trust that I can say anything, that we know a lot about each other, that there are no taboo subjects… We always tell each other extreme things about ourselves, we don’t hide. These are the moments when we best get to know each other’.[76] As has been noted, Warlikowski does not hold the monopoly on decision-making, although his particular perspective outside the action enables him to perceive and react to elements unseen by the actors. This position of outside observer allows him to question certain specific situations and to judge which proposals the ensemble may wish to put forward to an audience; in this sense he fulfils a similar role to that described under the name of ‘outside eye’ by Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainment, who also aspires to a democratic process of creation and conducts interventions of a similar nature.[77]

The commitment to a democratic partnership strengthens and reinforces the familial organism that the artists create together, with the actor at the core of the rehearsal process. This creativity cannot be imposed or enforced – it appears organically as a result of the explorations undertaken by the group. It is often an unavoidable consequence that tensions occur during this collective exploration, especially among a group of artists who are at times egocentric or highly sensitive, due to their personal stake in the work; this type of approach frequently involves arguments and struggles for validation. Hajewska-Krzysztofik admits that work in such circumstances is ‘difficult, sometimes depressing, there are low points, and there are moments when you reach a complete deadlock and don’t know how to deal with it’.[78] Conflicts and clashes of ideas are inherent elements of such theatre-making, since nothing within the practice is ever conceived as fixed or stable. The creators develop continuously and therefore the dynamic within the ensemble changes ad infinitum. As a result, the visions and perspectives of the director and the actors are in perpetual negotiation. This momentum feeds the performances and contributes significantly to the vitality of this theatre.


Warlikowski believes that only an actor who engages with an experience from ‘within’ is able to transcend and share their experience with an audience. It is crucial for Warlikowski to work with a specific, familiar group of people, whose personalities he finds engaging – his theatre is not made by actors but by (and for) ‘real people’ who bring their own personal narratives to the theatre space. This inevitably means that the actors put their own distinctive signatures on their work. As Poniedziałek points out: ‘we are not “creating” anything, there is no process of “creation” taking place. You need to come here with some kind of baggage. You need to approach the issue we’re discussing in an honest, open, and very human way. Personal narratives are what Krzysiek likes the most’.[79] Poniedziałek’s comment holds a clue to the type of involvement Warlikowski ‘requires’. This primarily concerns the actors’ personalities, issues, and interests, which themselves determine the lives of their stage personas, over and above technical competency or acting method. The actors’ distinctive ‘fingerprints’ are recognisable in the characters to which they give birth, and this collective ‘genetic code’ establishes the particular quality of their stage microcosm.

The process leading to this outcome is complex. To evoke Brook’s simile of ‘an actor who is like a garden’,[80] the principal role of the ‘director-gardener’ is to remain tolerant and patient, to wait, and to support the actors’ investigations. As Warlikowski states, ‘mistakes [on the part of the actors] don’t exist – there’s no need to create barriers and rules. I often make embarrassing mistakes myself, but this is normal when you’re searching for something. These aren’t the kind of mistakes you should have to explain’.[81] This approach is exemplified in Hajewska-Krzysztofik’s account of rehearsals for The Tempest (2003). She recalls the complexity and difficulties of working on the scenes between her character Miranda and Ferdinand (Klijnstra), and praises Warlikowski’s considerable patience: ‘it’s something very precious when the director doesn’t unnerve the actors, doesn’t intimidate them, doesn’t disapprove of whatever they’re doing. [...] Krzysiek feels so much affection for the actors, and he knows how to work with us. This mindset leads us to explore further and deeper, to permit ourselves to be bold in experimenting’.[82] I would suggest that this emphasis on mutual commitment also corresponds with Etchells’ definition of ‘investment’, which appears highly relevant in this context:

Investment is what happens when the performers before us seem bound up unspeakably with what they’re doing – it seems to matter to them […]. When it works it is private, and often on the very edge of words. […] Investment draws us in. Something is happening – real and therefore risked – something seems to slip across from the private world to the public one – and the performers are ‘left open’ or ‘left exposed’. […] Investment happens when we are hitting new ground, when we don’t quite know, where we can’t quite say, where we feel compromised, complicit, bound up, without recourse to an easy position. This is not the place for respectable and soapbox certainties – only live issues will do. Investment wants us naked, with slips and weaknesses, with the not-yet and never-to-be certain…[83]

For the actors to ‘invest’ means for them to be open and devoted to the ‘matter’ or issue under discussion. Investment can only occur when complete and unrestricted engagement takes place, and when established theatrical forms and conventions make way for the uncontrolled and unexpected.

There is no better exemplification of the actor’s ‘investment’ in Warlikowski’s theatre than Celińska’s role as the peep-show dancer in Cleansed, whose rhythmic striptease in a booth is ‘activated’ by the sound of dropping coins. In Poland, her role triggered an outraged debate about aesthetics and the ethics of exposing an ‘ageing’, ‘corpulent’, and naked body to public scrutiny. For Celińska the work constituted a complex, personal experience:

A few times during rehearsals, I ran away from this performance. […] I was afraid of exposing my body, and also of touching what I’d already finished with in my life – that is, the need for physical and emotional love. […] Love is a quite dangerous subject. It is always associated with a certain fear, with risk. I wanted to avoid this and forget about something [from my personal experience], to live a normal life. […] But when I found the courage, this text opened me up to people. To love. […] Kane shows how much we need love, the value it has...[84]

Celińska admits that the performance had a significant effect on her personally, and that the approach she established with Warlikowski gave her the chance to make the kind of intense and passionate theatre she desired: theatre that provokes debate. Following the premiere of Cleansed, the celebrated director Andrzej Wajda[85] wrote to Celińska, who has often performed in his films: ‘you don’t hold anything back, you expose yourself completely. But could we make theatre without this?’[86]

Perhaps the most significant comments on Celińska’s performance came from Janusz Majcherek, a critic for the prominent journal Teatr, who described this unusual, committed and ‘sacred’ approach to acting thus: ‘this is no longer dedication, this is a sacrifice, and I don’t hesitate to say that this is a new “total act”’.[87] Majcherek’s implicit reference to Jerzy Grotowski appears in this context as significant praise, even though Grotowski’s legacy has only recently begun to secure the kind of status in Poland that it enjoys abroad.[88] For Celińska, who in her early career received but did not take up an offer to join Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium, this comparison was a fitting tribute.[89] Majcherek’s appraisal further highlights some of the difficulties implicit in such an act of self-sacrifice, indicating the remarkable degree of application and engagement required from the actor, beyond innate talent.

Stanisława Celińska and Mariusz Bonaszewski in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of Cleansed (2001). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Stanisława Celińska and Mariusz Bonaszewski in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of Cleansed (2001). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Celińska’s achievements would likely not have been possible without her partnership with a director able to provide her with the conditions to explore, analyse, and then overcome her self-limitations, and help transform this process into an experience that I have already compared to therapy (for both the actor and the audience). Likewise, Celińska’s contribution has been essential to this director’s practice. Her case is exemplary in terms of the ‘organic’ collaboration between actor and director, who make theatre that ‘feeds’ on their biographies and on the honesty with which this personal background is revealed. Celińska talks about her fear of exposing herself and encountering love and physical intimacy, which she had already eradicated from her life, while Warlikowski’s insistent returning to this theme also significantly influenced the actor’s private life outside the theatre. She notes that Cleansed ‘opened me up to people. To love. I asked myself: why not? It doesn’t mean that this love will come, but if it did, I’d perhaps react to it differently than I would have done before Cleansed. Perhaps I would be willing to take up this challenge. Before, it wouldn’t have been possible’.[90] Furthermore, this collaboration represents a new development in mainstream Polish theatre; the actor – freed from the obligation of simply following directorial instruction – constructs the role at the border between art and personal history, allowing a ‘vivisection’ of the ‘self’. Such a penetration of one’s own inner world can culminate in the staging of what Etchells calls ‘live issues’: significant issues that are actually lived-through and informed by the real experiences of the actors. The actor thus becomes a springboard towards helping us examine what remains hidden or unnoticed in everyday life.

The emphasis on organic evolution within the actors’ work, and the long duration of the rehearsal process result in performances that are themselves ‘breathing’ organisms: performances that are inherently ‘lived-through’ and deeply embedded in the actors’ private lives. These features have two additional consequences that are crucial for an intertheatrical understanding of this oeuvre. Firstly, the successful ‘resurrection’ of previous productions – productions that have remained in the repertoire for some time, albeit infrequently performed – depends on the networks of personal connections that were integral to the processes leading up to their premieres. The intensity of the rehearsals and the real sense of ‘growing’ that characterise the multifaceted stages of creation do not result in the elaboration of verbal and physical sequences that could be reproduced before an audience only at a technical level. At the same time, this means that these intertheatrical circumstances condition not only the growth of performances and their relationship with audiences, but also the post-premiere ‘afterlife’ of each production.

From left to right: Mariusz Bonaszewski, Krzysztof Warlikowski, and Stanisława Celińska in rehearsal for Cleansed (2001). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

From left to right: Mariusz Bonaszewski, Krzysztof Warlikowski, and Stanisława Celińska in rehearsal for Cleansed (2001). Photograph: Stefan Okołowicz.

Cleansed is a production that was revived in Thessalonica in April 2008, following an eighteen-month interval during which it had not been performed.[91] Hajewska-Krzysztofik describes the circumstances of its revival as follows:

We’d forgotten the text. But when we’d gone over it once, it came back immediately. Everything that was inscribed in our bodies was still there, it never left. It’s inscribed so deeply; the body has its own memory. It was so fully developed, like my actual life itself. [...] [I]t’s very difficult to explain. I don’t want to idealise this [...] work with Krzysiek, because there are difficult moments, there are conflicts, but what we work on is extraordinary.[92]

Hajewska-Krzysztofik’s testimony hints at the unusual extent to which the performed material becomes an intrinsic part of the actors’ lives. Unlike the repertory theatre model in which, traditionally, the premiere marks the ‘final’ stage of a performance, the productions of Warlikowski and his ensemble continue to retain an intensive focus on development and growth. The ensemble regards a premiere as its first encounter with the audience, sometimes as the moment of putting things together for the first time, but never as the final shape of the work. A performance’s continued development takes various forms and is not rule-bound; rather it reflects and attends to changes within the group and the surrounding environment. The growth of specific characters is often particularly noticeable after a lapse in performance, and subsequent work on other performances also feeds into the actors’ reprisals of their earlier roles. The latter is exemplified in this short review extract on the second run of Hamlet:

Horatio is now played by Andrzej Chyra. And although he has no more text or scenes than Omar Sangare[93] […] this character is no longer only a bit-part, Hamlet’s shadow. [...] Perhaps this is the result of [Chyra’s] collaboration on The Bacchae and the duet he had with Pentheus (Jacek Poniedziałek) as Dionysus [...].[94] Now there is something of Dionysus in this [new] Horatio. Horatio still remains the outsider, [he] functions in a different rhythm from the other characters.[95]

This short extract points toward a certain predisposition in Warlikowski’s work, highlighting the intensive and ongoing development of the play’s characters. The existence of a new Horatio is ‘sharpened’ under the impact of another character (Dionysus), and this lineage can be discerned and traced by an external observer.[96]

Due to the long durations of the production runs, there is often a need to prepare understudies, who bring distinct perspectives to the performances rather than simply taking up the roles constructed by other actors (as exemplified by Chyra taking over from Sangare). Importantly, Warlikowski hardly ever allows understudies for the ‘core’ members of the ensemble, who are considered irreplaceable, organic elements of the collective world that is created. As Cielecka relates, plans to replace her for a brief run of The Dybbuk met with certain obstacles:

...with Krzysiek it’s not quite enough to ‘play a part’. [...] With him, you need to bring something of your own. You have to be a distinct being within the role. He’s not interested in setting a choreography and then ‘performing’ these gestures and movements on stage. He is interested in what can happen ‘underneath’, and this is something absolutely unique to the person who performs [the role]. This is why having understudies in his theatre doesn’t work.[97]

One individual cannot easily be replaced by another. Moreover, Warlikowski considers that the ‘authentic’ execution of a role can only be achieved through a long rehearsal period, and thus the potential loss of any core element of the ‘mosaic’ of relations between actors and characters cannot be compensated by another individual from outside. Even if changes in personnel might not be noticeable to a spectator attending a production for the first time, for Warlikowski this ‘false note’ ruins the shape that was collectively and patiently determined over the course of the rehearsal process.

Despite certain unquestionable advantages to creating a performance in such a closeknit environment, this type of collaboration also has certain drawbacks. Not all actors are prepared to undertake the kind of inner journey required in this theatre, which emerges from a long and difficult process. Such an intimate method of working requires a shared artistic orientation, mutual trust, and a willingness to accept the inevitable mistakes that are integral to the process of investigation. The case of Janusz Gajos,[98] a well-known actor who was invited from the National Theatre[99] to play the part of Prospero in Warlikowski’s The Tempest, clearly demonstrates the significance of these issues. One of the main problems with this collaboration was the lack of a common understanding of theatre and of acting practice. For Gajos, acting is a professional craft, and he describes working on a role as ‘banal thing: [you] read, understand, and let it process’. He adds: ‘...a role needs to be constructed formally from beginning to end. [...] Spontaneity is desirable during rehearsals; you need to draw from yourself – from your imagination, your temperament – as much as you can. But once you’ve stoked the fire, you need to have it under control. You need to make use of yourself, but not to play yourself’.[100] In view of my earlier discussions, these statements highlight certain differences in Warlikowski’s and Gajos’s conceptions of craft and approaches to character, and perhaps shed some light on the latter’s decision to withdraw from The Tempest three weeks before the premiere, following a long series of rehearsals. Warlikowski delivers a blunt assessment of this situation:

I felt really tied up by this work. It was working less and less well, and there was no spontaneity. When Gajos left […] the catastrophe [of his departure] turned out to be [...] a release of energy. Adam [Ferency] joined and suddenly this whole network of thoughts and associations began to function; everything that had been withheld, restricted, came bursting out.[101]

Gajos likely felt like an outsider within a very familiar ensemble of actors, who knew each other well and already had extensive experience of Warlikowski’s working methods. Klijnstra provides a clear interpretation of the drawbacks of this situation:

...the majority of the rehearsal process we were just talking. None of the scenes were set in terms of the staging. […] Gajos is so reserved that he needs to know first exactly where he’s supposed to sit and when to get up. Once he knows all that, then he’s able to activate his inner life. Whereas we all knew that things would turn out fine [without this knowledge]. We struggled the whole time to find the essence; we knew that there was this deeper level [we had yet to find in the material]. We could afford to do that because we trusted each other.[102]

This difficult situation holds a clue to the integrative, holistic nature of Warlikowski’s work, which fundamentally comes into contrast with the more detached and ‘professional’ approach of the seasoned repertory actor Gajos. Warlikowski’s theatre-making has become an ongoing, organic process determined by the personal and shared experiences of its co-creators; it no longer lends itself to singular, professionally oriented collaborations, but develops over years, as do the methods and fruits of the ensemble’s work.


This attempt at an intertheatrical reading of Warlikowski’s theatre-making has sought to illustrate the complexity of the processes that precondition and surround the creation of each of his performances. As I have emphasised, this theatre is conceived as a truly collaborative venture. Central here are the roles of the individual artists, for whom making performances has become much more than a profession or vocation, but a crucial part of their lives. Their idiosyncratic combination of artistic and personal engagement – which harmonises with and reflects the creators’ own life experiences – imbues this theatre with a vital energy, which has consequently come to characterise their work. The performers’ acts of self-revelation aim to establish a unique type of communication with the spectators, who – judging from the past reception of the performances – seem able to detect the unusual degree of personal investment in the processes that led to the creation and ongoing development of the work. Perhaps the nature of this communion with audiences holds the key to the wide acclaim that Warlikowski’s theatre has received internationally, irrespective of the diverse contexts within which the performances have been staged.

The fleeting nature of the processes described here, which closely intertwine theatre and personal history, necessarily renders this intertheatrical analysis at best provisional – especially as the Nowy Teatr establishes itself as an institution and continues its investigations and development. In particular, in aspiring to be faithful to the creators’ lives and experiences beyond the theatre, the approaches to work developed by Warlikowski and his collaborators must be inherently transitory and are thus bound to undergo numerous transformations.


  1. ^ Warlikowski made his debut within this repertory system with a production of Die Marquise von O. by Heinrich von Kleist, which premiered on 20 February 1993 at the Stary Teatr, Kraków.
  2. ^ ‘Creators’ signifies here all the artists who take an active part in the creation of the performance: the actors, set and costume designer, composer, lighting designer, and so on.
  3. ^ Jacky Bratton developed this notion in her texts: ‘Reading the Intertheatrical, or, The Mysterious Disappearance of Susanna Centlivre’, in Maggie B. Gale and Viv Gardner, Women, Theatre and Performance (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp.7-24, and ‘Theatre in London in 1832: A new overview’, in New Readings in Theatre History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 36-66.
  4. ^ In Bratton, ‘Reading the Intertheatrical’, p. 15.
  5. ^ I refer here to the long period of presenting the performances that begins with the premiere and ends when the production is presented for the last time, during which Warlikowski’s ensemble continues to investigate and develop the work intensively.
  6. ^ Roberto Zucco premiered on 22 September 1995 at the Teatr Nowy (New Theatre).
  7. ^ European festivals in the early 1990s were particularly keen to promote the work of young directors from postcommunist countries.
  8. ^ Warlikowski assisted Brook on his production of Impressions de Pelleas at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris, which premiered on 13 November 1992.
  9. ^ Warlikowski participated in work sessions led by Giorgio Strehler at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan in 1994.
  10. ^ Warlikowski participated in work sessions led by Ingmar Bergman at Le Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern in Stockholm in 1994.
  11. ^ Following his professional debut, Warlikowski managed to earn further invitations from many reputable venues in Poland (e.g. Teatr Nowy in Poznań, Teatr im. Wilama Horzycy in Toruń), which led to the impressive frequency with which he premiered new productions (for instance, between 1992 and 1998, he prepared twenty performances, both in Poland and abroad).
  12. ^ For example, Grzegorz Niziołek – the author of the first book-length monograph on Warlikowski’s theatre – regards all productions preceding The Taming of The Shrew (1998) as ‘drafts, attempts, variants’ that are ‘sometimes interesting, fascinating, but often also half-done, or at times simply unsuccessful’. Niziołek, however, goes on to acknowledge the value of Roberto Zucco, considering it ‘a heralding of the breakthrough’ associated with the period ‘when [Warlikowski] became open about the fact that he had a bone to pick with society’. See Niziołek, Warlikowski: Extra ecclesiam (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Homini, 2008), p. 9, and pp. 20 and 19, respectively.
  13. ^ Piotr Gruszczyński, ‘Koltès – Bliźniak’ (Koltès – The Twin), Dialog, 11 (2003), 78-82 (p. 78).
  14. ^ Klijnstra was a recent graduate of the Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna im. Aleksandra Zelwerowicza in Warsaw (The Aleksander Zelwerowicz State Higher Theatre School). Warlikowski saw him in Jerzy Grzegorzewski’s production of La Bohème and invited him to join his cast of Roberto Zucco at the Teatr Nowy in Poznań.
  15. ^ Klijnstra had a chance to work with a young Dutch director, Alize Zadwijk whose theatrical philosophy exerted a great impact on him. Zadwijk later became an artistic director of the RO Theatre in Rotterdam, one of the three largest theatre companies in the Netherlands.
  16. ^ Author’s interview with Redbad Klijnstra, 31 March 2008, Warsaw. Similarly, all of my other conversations with Warlikowski and his collaborators quoted in this article come from the interviews that were conducted (mainly in Polish) between 2006 and 2009 for the purpose of my PhD research at the University of Manchester. I am grateful to all the participants for their time and the willingness to discuss their experiences and share their thoughts with me. All excerpts appear in my own translation.
  17. ^ Author’s interview with Redbad Klijnstra, 31 March 2008, Warsaw.
  18. ^ Poznań is a city well known for its international trade fairs and has a thriving business community. The Teatr Nowy has created close relationships with local businesses, especially since 1989 when Loża Patronów (the Theatre Box of Patrons) was founded. This consists of influential local businessmen who have patronised the theatre, seeking sponsorship on its behalf as well as promoting its activity. The existence of the Loża Patronów has been significant for the theatre, as evidenced not only by the immodest display of patrons’ names in the foyer and production programmes, and their presence at premieres and numerous other events, but chiefly through the repertory choices that the artistic manager, Eugeniusz Korin made during his management of the Nowy (1989-2003).
  19. ^ Anticipating controversy over the production (in which a young boy murders his family and other victims, with no apparent motive), the Teatr Nowy, in conjunction with the local paper Głos Wielkopolski, launched an essay competition in which audience members were asked to write about their ‘impressions and thoughts inspired by the performance’. In particular, respondents were asked to comment on how they saw ‘the issues of family, terrorism, violence, fear against another human being […]. Who can help in restoring the undermined moral order? Would it be the role of the family, school, church, or art?’ The competition was announced in Olgierd Błażewicz, ‘Dlaczego oszalałeś Roberto?’ (What Drove You Mad, Roberto?), Głos Wielkopolski, 210 (10 September 1995) <> [accessed 15 August 2013].
  20. ^ Locally, this included Błażej Kusztelski writing for Gazeta Poznańska and Olgierd Błażewicz for Głos Wielkopolski; nationally, Roman Pawłowski for Gazeta Wyborcza and Jacek Wakar for Teatr.
  21. ^ Author’s interview with Magdalena Cielecka, 11 August 2008, Edinburgh.
  22. ^ They met at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków in the early 1980s at a philosophy lecture that appeared to be cancelled. Szczęśniak was doing a PhD in psychology and Warlikowski was an undergraduate studying philosophy. They have been working together since his early shows at the theatre school in Kraków.
  23. ^ Małgorzata Szczęśniak quoted in Katarzyna Janowska, ‘Fabryka Warlikowskiego’ (Warlikowski’s Factory), Polityka, 20 (16 May 2005) <> [accessed 17 August 2013].
  24. ^ Author’s conversation with Jacek Poniedziałek, 26 April 2008, Warsaw.
  25. ^ R. E. Goss, ‘Queering Procreative Privilege: Coming Out as Families’, in Our Families, Our Values: Snapshots of Queer Kinship, ed. by Goss and A. S. Strongheart (Binghampton, NJ: The Harrington Park Press, 1997), pp. 3-20 (p. 19); cited in Jeffrey Weeks, Brian Heaphy, and Catherine Donovan, Same Sex Intimacies. Families of choice and other life experiments (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), p. 9.
  26. ^ Weeks, Donovan, and Heaphy created a research team at the South Bank London University that examined familial structures.
  27. ^ Weeks, et al, Same Sex Intimacies, p. 9.
  28. ^ These are usually from 10am to 2pm and from 6 to 10pm daily, apart from Mondays, which are traditionally days off for Polish repertory theatre actors.
  29. ^ Danuta Stenka played the title role in Electra and then Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, in Warlikowski’s productions at the Teatr Dramatyczny in 1997.
  30. ^ Author’s interview with Danuta Stenka, 9 April 2009, Warsaw.
  31. ^ Stanisława Celińska is a well-known Polish actor born in 1947, and a representative of the older generation of actors whose careers began under communism. One of her most memorable roles was as Nina in Andrzej Wajda’s film Landscape after Battle (1970).
  32. ^ Quay West premiered on 10 October 1998 at the Teatr Studio.
  33. ^ Celińska, in Teresa Wilniewczyc, ‘Dzień wcześniej skończyłam pięćdziesiąt lat’ (I Turned Fifty the Day Before), Notatnik Teatralny, 28-29 (2003), 15-30 (p. 16).
  34. ^ For further discussion of therapeutic elements in Warlikowski’s work, see Justyna Drobnik-Rogers, ‘Krzysztof Warlikowski: Theatre as a Collective (Auto)Therapy’, Theatre Forum, 35 (2009), 10-16, and Grzegorz Niziołek, ‘Theatre for Neurotics’, elsewhere in this volume (pp. 52-62 of print edition).
  35. ^ For example, she suggested that Hamlet (Poniedziałek) be naked when he meets his mother Gertrude (played by Celińska herself) in Warlikowski’s adaptation of Hamlet in 1999, and persuaded the director to stage Sarah Kane’s Cleansed. (The latter was one of Warlikowski’s key productions, and premiered on 15 December 2001 at Wrocławski Teatr Współczesny. It was a co-production of three theatres: Wrocławski Teatr Współczesny, Teatr Polski in Poznań, and Teatr Rozmaitości in Warsaw.)
  36. ^ For example, she played a key role in helping Mariusz Bonaszewski – a member of Poland’s National Theatre ensemble who played Tinker in Cleansed – to adapt to Warlikowski’s practice, and in addressing the actor’s professional concerns about this controversial production.
  37. ^ Jarzyna, then a thirty year-old graduate from the Kraków theatre school, became in 1997 the youngest artistic director in Polish theatre.
  38. ^ According to the records of the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute (see <>), Krzysztof Warlikowski was formally employed at TR Warszawa as a director between 2004 and 2007. Between 1999 and 2004, he had been commissioned to work on individual productions.
  39. ^ Krystian Lupa (b. 1943) is a celebrated Polish director, set designer, translator, and professor of directing at Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna w Krakowie (PWST: State Higher Theatre School, in Kraków). (For further details of Lupa’s practice, see the interview, ‘Returning to the Garden of Childhood’, elsewhere in this volume (pp. 272-317 of print edition). Eds.)
  40. ^ Author’s interview with Redbad Klijnstra, 31 March 2008, Warsaw.
  41. ^ Warlikowski, cited in Piotr Gruszczyński, Szekspir i uzurpator. Z Krzysztofem Warlikowskim rozmawia Piotr Gruszczyński (Shakespeare and the Usurper: Piotr Gruszczyński in conversation with Krzysztof Warlikowski) (Warsaw: WAB, 2007), p. 77.
  42. ^ For a further perspective on Warlikowski’s work in his native language and abroad, see also Krzysztof Warlikowski, ‘Actors and their Truth’, elsewhere in this volume (pp. 126-133 of print edition). Eds.
  43. ^ Author’s interview with Renate Jett, 10 August 2008, Edinburgh; emphases added.
  44. ^ It was also crucial to Jett that ‘[Cleansed] was a co-production of three theatres in three different cities’ – see note 35.
  45. ^ Author’s interview with Renate Jett, 10 August 2008, Edinburgh.
  46. ^ Work on Warlikowski’s (A)pollonia lasted from August 2008 to May 2009.
  47. ^ Author’s interview with Danuta Stenka, 9 April 2009, Warsaw.
  48. ^ Author’s interview with Piotr Gruszczyński, 9 April 2009, Warsaw.
  49. ^ For further discussion of this shift, see Niziołek, ‘Theatre for Neurotics’ (p. 54). Eds.
  50. ^ Various motives for this conflict have been suggested in the press, and Warlikowski’s accusations that his generation of directors ‘compromise themselves by the fact that with age they start to become interested only in form’, and that ‘they simply have nothing left to say’ encouraged considerable speculation (cited in Iga Nyc, ‘Pojedynek potworów’ (The Battle of the Monsters), Wprost, 9 (2007), 108-109; also available at: < artykuly/35687.html> [accessed 17 August 2013]). Evaluating the dispute with Jarzyna is beyond the scope of this article; however, in the context of this intertheatrical reading of Warlikowski’s trajectory, the initial opportunities created by Jarzyna at TR have had a substantial impact on Warlikowski’s development of his theatrical language and the creation of his ensemble.
  51. ^ Although the Nowy Teatr inaugurated its activity in 2008, the theatre still has no official performance venue and is based in a number of office spaces on Puławska Street in Warsaw.
  52. ^ These were: Andrzej Chyra, Magdalena Cielecka, Ewa Dałkowska, Wojciech Kalarus, Marek Kalita, Zygmunt Malanowicz, Maja Ostaszewska, Magdalena Popławska, Jacek Poniedziałek, and Maciej Stuhr.
  53. ^ These were: Stanisława Celińska, Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, Renate Jett, Maja Komorowska, Adam Nawojczyk, Anna Radwan-Gancarczyk, Bogusława Schubert, Danuta Stenka, and Tomasz Tyndyk.
  54. ^ Redbad Klijnstra left the ensemble in September 2008. The moment of Celińska’s departure was not specified, but it is believed to have been around the same time. Although listed at first as ‘collaborators’ following their departures, their present roles are undefined.
  55. ^ Celińska, in Katarzyna Kubisiowska, ‘Kobieta sukcesu’ (A Woman of Success), Tygodnik Powszechny, (1 November 2009) <,0,35357,kobieta_sukcesu.artykul.html> [accessed 20 December 2013].
  56. ^ See ibid. Celińska since moved to the Teatr Współczesny (Contemporary Theatre) and begun what she terms her official ‘retirement’, which she recently stated gives her ‘a mental comfort’ of no longer having ‘to prove anything’.
  57. ^ Author’s interview with Redbad Klijnstra, 9 April 2009, Warsaw.
  58. ^ In 2006 Redbad Klijnstra founded the company Grupa Twórcza Supermarket (Creative Group Supermarket) with which he produced Historia przypadku (Tiny Dynamite) by Abi Morgan at Wrocławski Teatr Współczesny. Premiere: 13 May 2006.
  59. ^ For example, having begun rehearsals for Angels in America (2007) with Klijnstra performing the major role of Prior, Warlikowski supported Klijnstra in taking up a directing position elsewhere that was offered during the preparation of the production; he further suggested that Klijnstra take on the smaller role of Belize in order to be able to manage both projects. However, it proved difficult to share time between rehearsals in Warsaw and Wrocław, and finally Klijnstra withdrew from the production of Angels in America.
  60. ^ Author’s interview with Redbad Klijnstra, 9 April 2009, Warsaw
  61. ^ David Bradby and David Williams, Directors’ Theatre (Basingstoke: Macmillan Modern Dramatists, 1988), p. 1.
  62. ^ Ibid., p. 15.
  63. ^ Dałkowska was invited to join the ensemble after Stanisława Celińska left the company in 2008.
  64. ^ Warlikowski, in Szekspir i uzurpator, pp. 79-80.
  65. ^ Peter Brook in The Empty Space (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990), pp. 120-121.
  66. ^ (A)pollonia was the first production by Warlikowski to involve the construction of an original playtext, comprised of various classical and contemporary fragments; during the initial discussion and workshop stage in Greece, certain scenes were already being tried out in practice (Gruszczyński gives the example of work on a fragment of J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, among several of the actors). Once a draft text was compiled from these explorations (by Warlikowski and Poniedziałek), official rehearsals began in Warsaw in September 2008, with the initial draft updated regularly by assistant director Katarzyna Łuszczyk, according to developments in the rehearsal room. For the first three months the rehearsals were mostly based on reading and discussion, due to space restrictions. When the ensemble moved to a larger film studio (the Tęcza studio, in the Żoliborz district of Warsaw), the actors would meet Warlikowski in small groups for work on individual scenes. From March 2009, the ensemble worked against the emerging backdrop of the set, as it was being constructed in the studio (the set design began to emerge in December 2008, as a result of the initial rehearsals). At this point the final sequencing of the performance was established, and the lighting and live music fully integrated (Renate Jett had been working separately with the composer Paweł Mykietyn and the musician-performers). At the beginning of May, the whole set was moved to the Wytwórnia Wódek Koneser (Koneser Vodka Factory) where the performance premiered on 16 May 2009. For more details of the staging of this performance, see Monika Żółkoś, ‘Body, Word, Memory: The actor in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s theatre’ and ‘(A)pollonia: A Photographic Essay’, elsewhere in this volume (pp. 134-148 and 149-174, respectively, in print edition). See also (A)pollonia: Twenty-First Century Polish Drama and Texts for the Stage, ed. by Krystyna Duniec, Joanna Klass, and Joanna Krakowska (Calcutta: Seagull, 2014).
  67. ^ Author’s interview with Ewa Dałkowska, 10 April 2009, Warsaw.
  68. ^ Author’s interview with Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, 27 April 2008, Warsaw.
  69. ^ This information comes from the author’s interview with Danuta Stenka, 9 April 2009, Warsaw.
  70. ^ Alison Oddey, Devising Theatre. A Practical & Theoretical Handbook (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 1.
  71. ^ Deirdre Heddon and Jane Milling, Devising Performance. A Critical History (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 192.
  72. ^ Oddey considers these traits as characteristic of devised theatre companies, and as having emerged from the cultural climate of the 1990s. See Devising Theatre, p. 1.
  73. ^ Ibid., p. 9.
  74. ^ See Krzysztof Warlikowski, ‘Actors and their Truth’, elsewhere in this volume (p. 130).
  75. ^ Jacek Poniedziałek often plays characters whose action in performance is confrontational and directed outward, towards the audience; for example, in the production of (A)pollonia, Poniedziałek’s Admetus directs the onstage video camera towards the audience and directs questions to the spectators. Poniedziałek’s communicative skills and presence at post-performance discussions are also significant, and he often engages in debates with audience members at the events that are arranged in connection with performance-runs.
  76. ^ Warlikowski, ‘Actors and their Truth’ (p. 132).
  77. ^ Etchells, in ‘Upieranie się przy wolności do zmian. Z Timem Etchells z Forced Entertainment rozmawia Justyna Drobnik-Rogers’ (Asserting the Freedom to Change: Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells in conversation with Justyna Drobnik-Rogers), Didaskalia, 89 (2009), 77-79 (p. 78).
  78. ^ Author’s conversation with Hajewska-Krzysztofik, 27 April 2008, Warsaw.
  79. ^ Author’s interview with Jacek Poniedziałek, 26 April 2008, Warsaw.
  80. ^ See Brook, The Empty Space, p. 128.
  81. ^ Warlikowski, ‘Actors and their Truth’ (p. 129).
  82. ^ Author’s interview with Hajewska-Krzysztofik, 27 April 2008, Warsaw.
  83. ^ Tim Etchells, Certain Fragments. Contemporary Performance and Forced Entertainment (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 48-49.
  84. ^ In Wilniewczyc, ‘Dzień wcześniej...’, p. 24.
  85. ^ Andrzej Wajda is a film and theatre director, and recipient of an honorary, lifetime achievement Oscar. (See ‘On Tadeusz Kantor’s The Dead Class’, elsewhere in this volume (pp. 343-353 of print edition). Eds.)
  86. ^ In Mariola Szczyrba, ‘Złe duchy Sarah Kane’ (Sarah Kane’s Evil Spirits), Słowo Polskie, 28 (2-3 February 2002).
  87. ^ Janusz, Majcherek, ‘Oczyściciele’ (The Cleaners), Teatr, 1-2 (2002), p. 55.
  88. ^ Grotowski is still viewed with a degree of suspicion in Poland, as an experimental, alternative theatre artist, and his methods are generally rejected by those working in repertory theatre. It is worth noting that Grotowski’s Towards a Poor Theatre was only published in Poland for the first time in 2007 – significantly later than the first English-language edition in 1968.
  89. ^ Celińska discusses this with Roman Pawłowski in: Pawłowski, ‘Anioły nad Warszawą’ (Angels Over Warsaw), Gazeta Wyborcza, 42 (19 February 2007) <> [Accessed 3 August 2013].
  90. ^ In Wilniewczyc, ‘Dzień wcześniej...’, p. 24.
  91. ^ Krzysztof Warlikowski received The International Theatre Award in Thessalonica (April 2008).
  92. ^ Author’s conversation with Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, 27 April 2008, Warsaw.
  93. ^ Omar Sangare was originally cast in Hamlet as Horatio.
  94. ^ I believe that the author of this review refers here to the strength gained by Andrzej Chyra’s Dionysus (The Bacchae, 2001) as a result of his confrontation with the tyrant Pentheus (Jacek Poniedziałek). At first, Dionysus appears in the performance as a ‘delicate’ and ‘feminine’, divine figure who influences the humans around him, who join his cult. His presence opposes that of Pentheus who rules his kingdom with firm and despotic power. However, following the confrontation with Pentheus, Dionysus becomes a powerful and uncompromising god who is able to commit horrifying atrocities.
  95. ^ Joanna Targoń, ‘Życie Hamleta’ (The Life of Hamlet), Didaskalia, 45 (2001), 30-31.
  96. ^ Many changes are also introduced during the so-called omówienia (commentaries): the internal, post-performance discussions held by the company.
  97. ^ Author’s interview with Magdalena Cielecka, 11 August 2008, Edinburgh. (See also, ‘Actors and their Truth’ (p. 128). Eds.)
  98. ^ Janusz Gajos (b. 1939) is a well-known actor from the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre), and a veteran of many television and theatre productions. He is identified with an established, older generation of actors who have featured in many canonical works, notably Krzysztof Kieślowski’s film Three Colours: White (1994).
  99. ^ Warlikowski struggled to cast Prospero in The Tempest (at TR Warszawa) and following the suggestion of Grzegorz Jarzyna, he invited Janusz Gajos to play the part. Warlikowski reveals in conversations with Gruszczyński (Szekspir i uzurpator, p. 90) that he initially thought about giving the role to Adam Ferency (from the Teatr Dramatyczny), with whom he had already worked on The Taming of the Shrew. However, Ferency had been in rehearsals with Krystian Lupa at the time of the original casting, and was thus unavailable.
  100. ^ In Bożena Chodyniecka, ‘Korzystam z siebie’ (I Draw From Myself), Tele Tydzień, 39 (24 September 2007) <> [Accessed 30 July 2013].
  101. ^ Warlikowski, in Szekspir i uzurpator, p. 90.
  102. ^ Author’s interview with Redbad Klijnstra, 31 March 2008, Warsaw. 

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