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Nowy Teatr Krzysztof Warlikowski (A)pollonia Piotr Gruszczyński Jacek Poniedziałek Magdalena Cielecka Hanna Krall Aeschylus Hans Christian Andersen Andrzej Czajkowski J. M. Coetzee Euripides Jonathan Littell Marcin Świetlicki Rabindranath Tagore The Kindly Ones Alcestis Iphigenia Elizabeth Costello acting directing Holocaust Second World War memory Polish identity Polish Jewish culture Polish theatre sacrifice


Film description from the National Audiovisual Institute (NInA):

Krzysztof Warlikowski(A)pollonia is based on classical and contemporary texts, primarily excerpts from Euripides Alcestis, the Oresteia by Aeschylus, and Hanna KrallPola. The erudite script also includes fragments of Jonathan LittellThe Kindly Ones, J.M CoetzeeElizabeth Costello, Rabidranath Tagores drama The Post Office, and more.

By bringing together these texts, Warlikowski seeks to shed light on the ambiguous and sombre history of sacrifice, and in particular self-sacrifice – giving up ones life for another. Stories of mythological characters ruled by Fate are complemented and reflected in twentieth-century experience with its helplessness in the face of the Holocaust. In the act of sacrifice, the executioner becomes no less important than the victim.

Warlikowski studies various aspects of sacrifice, setting the enforced sacrifice of Iphigenia against Alcestis voluntary offering up of her life to save her husband. But he raises doubts as to the sanctity of voluntary sacrifice. For all the grand theories of killing that executioners construct when trying to justify their actions, their talk about following orders, their invoking of historical necessity, we still find it difficult to forgive them. The issue of guilt and forgiveness in Warlikowskis new production is complemented by an unexpected theme: that of vengeance. And that accounts for the presence of Clytemnestra and Orestes, as well as of Agamemnon, who speaks in phrases taken from Littell.

A great achievement of Krzysztof Warlikowskis adaptation is its blending of idioms taken from diverse linguistic and historical contexts, and the various discourses it employs. In order to avoid trite value judgements and statements, Warlikowski boldly juxtaposes the genocide of the Jews with the so-called holocaust of animals discussed with dispassionate rhetorical skill in one of the lectures by Coetzees eponymous protagonist Elizabeth Costello. It is a provocative, even outrageous move, but one all the more worthy of reflection, for are not executioners accounts of the murderous toil that killing requires outrageous? The lines from TagoreThe Post Office invoked early on in the performance assume a special significance among these disparate narratives: the play was staged in the Warsaw Ghetto by Janusz Korczak and the children in his care just before they were sent to the death camp in Treblinka. Such an opening, fraught with emotion, sets the tone for the entire production.

The Polish premiere of (A)pollonia took place on May 16, 2009 in Warsaw.

Film versions:

View the full film of the performance, with English subtitles:
(A)pollonia | English subtitles

View the film in the original Polish, without subtitles:
(A)pollonia | original language

(Running time: 3 hours 27 minutes.)