The Old Theatre in Kraków has just got a new General Director. Surprisingly, or maybe even shockingly, it is not Jan Klata, who has been leading the Old Theatre for the past five years. Klata’s contract ends in August. In March the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage announced that they would run a competition for the position. Klata, together with Marek Mikos, Paweł Miśkiewicz, Jan Polewka, Adam Sroka, Dariusz Zawiślak, Jacek Zembrzuski, applied. Klata was the obvious front runner.
On 9th of May, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage announced that Marek Mikos would take over from Klata; Michał Gieleta would become his Artistic Deputy. Mikos is a theatre critic and his most high-profile previous managerial experience is a local TV station in Kielce. Gieleta is recognized more for his work in opera and the UK rather than in Polish theatre. He is also known for his conservative commitment to the text and the playwright; this is unusual in Polish theatre celebrated for its directorial visions…
Is Polish theatre under the threat?
This is not the first time the Polish government has attempted to control an ambitious stage by replacing a recognized General or Artistic Director with a much less-experienced one… Wrocław, Warszawa, Bydgoszcz are other places and The Theatre Times wrote about it before. This is not simply a discussion about aesthetics or traditional theatre versus an experimental one. This is an attempt to silence the voice of Polish theatre artists who, even in the times of bondage and censorship, interrogated existing contexts and empowered the audiences to imagine freedom and justice.
On Friday 12th of May, Klata’s newest and perhaps last production will premiere in the Old Theatre: Wesele [The Wedding] by Stanisław Wyspiański.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.