This series will introduce Polish directors whose work is recognised in Poland, but they are relatively unknown abroad. First: Anna Augustynowicz.

Towards Her Own Poor Theatre

Anna Augustynowicz, currently one of the most renowned Polish directors, has been making her theatre for the past twenty-five years as the Artistic Director of the Współczesny Theatre in Szczecin in north-west Poland. In her work, she is supported by an ensemble of around thirty actors. This is an ensemble that she created and that she consistently credits with the success of her productions. Augustynowicz often limits the visual elements of her mise-en-scène, highlights the theatricality of the performances and, as pointed out by Robert Cieślak in his recent book Teatr Anny Augustynowicz [Theatre of Anna Augustynowicz], the live presence of the actors and the audience (Szczecin: Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 2011, p. 25).

<em>Wiśniowy Sad <em> [<em>The Cherry Orchard<em>], Wybrzeże Theatre, directed by Anna Augustynowicz, Photo by Teatr Wybrzeże

Wiśniowy Sad [The Cherry Orchard], Wybrzeże Theatre, directed by Anna Augustynowicz, Photo by Teatr Wybrzeże

SOUNDSCAPE AS A PARTNER

The importance of soundscapes is typical of her shows and she herself calls music her ‘partner’ in the creative process of live performance (Teatr, 9, 2008): music, often very loud, regularly creates a counterpoint to the very intentional soundscape created by the voices and bodies of the actors performing. According to Augustynowicz, work on the vocal soundscape starts when the actors read the play aloud. She compares this moment to the reading of a musical score:

“The actor takes a text which is foreign to him as his own, and creates it as his own; he becomes an instrument and instrumentalist conjoined in one person. The sounds of personae are often precisely inscribed within the play (Teatr, 9, 2008).”

This quote conveys well Augustynowicz’s great awareness of the potential inscribed within dramatic texts by their authors. This deference towards the text is accompanied by her constant refusal to obey generally accepted ways of reading and performing particular texts, notes Cieślak (Teatr Anny Augustynowicz, 2011, p. 28).

Augustynowcz’s newest productions: Ślub [The Marriage] by Witold Gombrowicz. Gombrowicz’s and Wiśniowy Sad [The Cherry Orchard] by can be viewed in the Współczesny Theatre in Szczecin and the Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk respectively.

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.