The 16th edition of the Boska Komedia coming soon
The central theme of this year’s Boska Komedia / Divine Comedy is Landscape After the Battle. It emphasises that the recent years have been the time of countless and incessant Polish battles – for independent courts and free media, women’s rights, minority rights, and the independence of cultural institutions. Those battles have raged in parliamentary benches, churches, the courts of law, and also in the streets. They have also engulfed the stages, as theatre, like a lens, reflects the condition of the contemporary society. We emerge from that war extremely weary, bruised, and polarised as a community. We are fed up with radicalisation of the language of public discourse and the enduring tension we have long lived among. The plays presented at the Boska Komedia / Divine Comedy capture that “landscape after the battle” and even if they perhaps do not investigate the reasons behind it, they are a testimony to the zeitgeist and survival strategies in a country engulfed by cultural war fuelled by ideologised politicians. Each play may be an assumption to find a perspective of overcoming, a path to the hearts, understanding, and hope to be a light in dark places.
Both Wiktor Rubin and Jolanta Janiczak’s Dobrze ułożony młodzieniec / The Well-Behaved Young Man from the Nowy Theatre in Łódź and, shown outside the competition, Jakub Skrzywanek’s Spartakus. miłość w czasach zarazy / Spartacus. Love in the Time of Cholera from the Współczesny Theatre in Szczecin speak of the refusal to consent to exclusion from the point of view of the excluded, rebellion against hate speech, and lack of tolerance towards being different. The dysfunctional and violent family twined with relationships stripped of emotions and descent into the hell of addiction are addressed by Luke Perceval’s Pewnego długiego dnia / Once Upon a Long Day by the National Stary Theatre in Kraków and Anna Smolar’s Melodramat / Melodrama by the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw. Małgorzata Wdowik’s Niepokój przychodzi o zmierzchu / Anxiety Comes at Dusk speaks of the atrophy of relations and the angst experienced by the young. The trauma of the loss of a parent, the insolence of the church, and the rigidity of the fossilised healthcare system Mateusz Pakuła scream in Jak nie zabiłem swojego ojca i jak bardzo tego żałuję / How I didn’t Kill my Father, and how much I Regret it, produced by the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre in Kraków and the Żeromski Theatre in Kielce, emphasising that an anarchist sense of humour can provide an escape and a refuge from despair. The dark clouds are also dispelled by Katarzyna Szyngiera’s 1989 produced by the Słowacki Theatre in Kraków, where the positive myth of Solidarity turns into the beginning of a new myth that – fingers crossed – we shall all build together, also by demonstrating the unity of the team standing strong with its director subjected to a witch-hunt by the political authorities.
Year by year, edition by edition, the Boska Komedia / Divine Comedy speaks with an increasingly loud voice of women. It can be heard in the manifesto of sisterhood and the women’s right to decide about themselves coming in Ewelina Marciniak’s Genialna przyjaciółka / My Brilliant Friend from the National Stary Theatre in Kraków, and also, even if in a different current, in Patrycja Kowańska and Dominika Knapik’s Very Funny defying stereotypes and challenging false hierarchies, also those reinforced in the theatre world. Their powerful and personal voice also enters into a dispute with Jan Klata’s Sen nocy letniej / Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Nowy Theatre in Poznań, bringing a sharp satire against the political correctness omnipresent in the Polish theatre and the endeavours motivated by cancel culture.
Two events stand out for their exceptional character this year. In the Dziady / Дзяди / The Forefathers’ Eve from Ivano-Frankivsk, Maja Kleczewska makes allusions to her production from the Słowacki Theatre that gave the powers that be the first reason to launch an assault on the theatre. However, placing Mickiewicz’s drama in the context of war in Ukraine, she criticises the hypocrisy and double standards of the Western world. The festival opens with the latest premiere of Krystian Lupa, celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Balkony – pieśni miłosne / Balconies are a production of the Wrocław-based Polish Theatre in the Underground. We will also present a series of productions by legends of the Polish theatre – Krystyna Janda, Andrzej Seweryn, and Daniel Olbrychski. Their productions – My Way, Lear, and Niespodziewany powrót / A Startling Comeback respectively – serve as a reminder that the stage and the achieved professional standing constitute a moral commitment to society.
As it always has been, the Boska Komedia / Divine Comedy is a celebration of the young theatre. This year, as we show Oresteja / Oresteia and Anioły w Ameryce / Angels in America – two diploma performances by the students of the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków, we invite you to the Academy for the day of student etudes selected by the festival’s artistic director during the Young Directors Forum held in November. Two out of four chosen works will be awarded with an invitation to have a production premiered at next year’s Boska Komedia / Divine Comedy.
The festival programme is complemented with an array of proposals from larger and smaller Kraków theatres. You are welcome to see Śmierć komiwojażera / Death of the Salesman directed by Małgorzata Bogajewska for the Ludowy Theatre, Byłam żoną Boba Marleya / I was Bob Marley’s Wife directed by Paweł Szumiec for the KTO, and Jenner: zostać sobą / Jenner: Becoming Yourself directed by Michał Nowicki for the Barakah Theatre.
The event is organised by the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre. It is cofinanced from the funds of the Municipality of Kraków and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage through the Fund for Promotion of Culture. The Festival has been organised uninterruptedly since 2008.
Partners: AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków, Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Full programme of the event is available online, at boskakomedia.pl
tel. +48 602 599 018
The productions for the competition were winnowed by the Selecting Jury consisting of Jacek Cieślak, Tomasz Domagała, Katarzyna Niedurny, Magdalena Piekarska, and Jacek Wakar will be assessed by the International Competition Jury composed of Divya Bhatia from India, Jurriaan Cooman from Switzerland, Peter Marks from the US, Barbara Regondi from Italy, Handan Salta from Turkey, and Carmen Romero Quero from Chile.
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków / Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre
1989, directed by Katarzyna Szyngiera
1989 speaks of the Polish 1980s, the time of “Solidarity”. Coming to the stage are the heroes of the time: Kuroń, Frasyniuk, Wałęsa, yet these are the women who come to the limelight now, even if in the previous accounts on those events they have remained in the shadow. Excellent rhymes, powerful music, and acting brimming with vitality make the audience experience 1989 like a rock concert. The play restores faith in the power of positive myths.
Kazimierz Dejmek Nowy Theatre in Łódź
Dobrze ułożony młodzieniec / The Well-Behaved Young Man, directed by Wiktor Rubin
Based on the true life of Eugeniusz Steinbart, a person who concealed their biological sex from the world. The play recreates the trial Eugeniusz faced for “attesting to a lie” about themselves. Well, was it the trial of Eugeniusz or of Eugenia, who, feeling the injustice of the harm they suffered because of their dual gender, attempted to take their own life?
National Stary Theatre in Kraków
Genialna przyjaciółka / My Brilliant Friend, directed by Ewelina Marciniak
An initiatory tale about the youth of two girls growing in the shadow of Vesuvius, brimming with the director’s verve, wit, and harsh social diagnoses. It is a story about true sisterhood, grappling with the oppression of the world, your own biology, and suppressed dreams. Crafted live by the outstanding multi-instrumentalist Wacław Zimpel, the soundtrack complements the uniqueness of this image.
Łaźnia Nowa Theatre in Kraków / Stefan Żeromski Theatre in Kielce
Jak nie zabiłem swojego ojca i jak bardzo tego żałuję / How I didn’t Kill my Father, and how much I Regret it, directed by Mateusz Pakuła
In the beginning, there was the book, in which Mateusz Pakuła chronicled the dying of his father. Imbued with sincerity, it has been an intimate confession of love, grief, and fury at the impossibility of putting an end to the suffering of a dying man. One of the most interesting Polish playwrights and most original directors decided, however, not to draw curtains on his story and to test it on the stage. He assigned the narrative to five fantastic actors, and they awarded it with a new dimension, quite unexpected for many.
Zygmunt Hübner Powszechny Theatre in Warszaw
Melodramat / Melodrama, directed by Anna Smolar
What lies at the heart of this memorable staging is the problem of alcoholism, yet seen from the perspective of co-dependent women. The play also offers insight into the relationships prevalent in the theatre here and now, resorting to various ways, including expressive dance, to highlight its still patriarchal nature, and situations tinged with violence, whether overtly or surreptitiously applied.
Henryk Tomaszewski Wrocław Pantomime Theatre
Niepokój przychodzi o zmierzchu / Anxiety Comes at Dusk, directed by Małgorzata Wdowik
Wdowik drew the inspiration for her début performance from one of the recently most talked-about books: The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. The sensational début of the Dutch author (now, post-transition, Lucas Rijneveld), like a lens, portrayed the neurotic personality of our times, resonating with young audiences almost independently of their whereabouts. The Wrocław production captures the essence of the book, even if it is almost free from words.
National Stary Theatre in Kraków
Pewnego długiego dnia / Once Upon a Long Day, directed by Luk PercevalThe play is a painful vivisection of a family in a state of irreversible breakdown caused by alcohol addiction. In Perceval’s work, self-destruction affects everyone without exception, and the diagnosis is merciless. What on the face of it is a very modest performance, does make a stunning impression
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