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Kantor's Finger and Kantor's Smile


Tadeusz Kantor Cricot 2 Polish theatre directing photography musicality


Kantor’s Finger

Tadeusz Kantor in rehearsals for I Shall Never Return (Berlin, May 1988). Photograph: Jacquie Bablet.

Tadeusz Kantor in rehearsals for I Shall Never Return (Berlin, May 1988). Photograph: Jacquie Bablet.

The master’s finger sets the sound levels...

In Edinburgh, in summer 1991, Denis Bablet recorded an interview with Tadeusz Kantor’s sound engineer, Tomasz Dobrowolski, who recalled: ‘I transferred onto tape two records of Argentinian tango music. Mr Tadeusz listened to them several times. He selected some of the tracks, then reduced these down to two, and, finally, only one remained. It was well-chosen. Mr Tadeusz had an excellent ear, although he never had the patience to take a more specialist interest in music. But he knew right away and very clearly what he wanted and he would always find it’.[1]

Kantor’s Smile


I Shall Never Return, Akademie der Künste (Berlin, 1988). Photograph: Jacquie Bablet.

Here, Tadeusz Kantor is (or seems to be) very relaxed. This photograph was taken a few moments before a performance of I Shall Never Return, during which he never smiles.

This moment reveals Kantor’s familiarity with the photographer and with several other people who were authorised to be present before the performance. The auditorium is still empty, but everything is ready. In a short while, Kantor will go behind the scenes and will not appear on stage until eleven minutes later, entering with a coffin he wont part with until the end of the performance. The coffin is a metaphor for impossible love.

After the workshop in Charleville-Mézières, where he met Marie Vayssière (a future actor in Cricot 2), Kantor would go on to create a wedding scene for the production; Marie replaced the coffin. This second version would be presented during the subsequent tours in France and to various other countries.

Translated from French by Ludmiła Ryba.


  1. ^ From Tomasz Dobrowolski, ‘Le témoignage de l’ingénieur du son’ (Testimony of a Sound Engineer), in T. Kantor 2, ed. by Denis Bablet, with Jacquie Bablet and Marie-Thérèse Vido-Rzewuska (= Les voies de la création théatrale, 18 (1993)), 257-62 (p. 257).