• Modrzejewska by Legnica

Festival “CITY”, Legnica 13-16 September 2007 (summary)

These days were beautiful. 8 theatre groups from Georgia, Russia, Italy, USA and Poland on 7 stages performed 6 world premieres.  During 4 days 15 performances were seen by 2100 spectators. 1st International Theatre Festival “CITY” had fully developed a programme catchword of Modjeska Theatre which says “we are the theatre whose stage is a city” – in the sense that the Festival takes over 13 various spaces within the city of Legnica.

Festival was – among other events – accompanied for instance by: theatre-film prologue (10-12 Sept.)  at club “Spiż” where showings of television version of Legnica theatre plays like “Ballade of Zakaczawie”, “Made in Poland” and “Uprisings and Fallings of the City” were presented; by concert of the Kormorany Orchestra (Cormorants) at the courtyard of Legnica’s Piast Dynasty Castle; by promotion of the book “Modjeska Plays”, an anthology  containing a collection of the plays written specially for Modjeska Theatre and by “Rags”, a  scenographic and costume demonstration of Małgorzata Bulanda set projects. At Festival’s press centre, which was placed at the open area of a mall “Piast Gallery” , there were conferences every day when all the group’s leaders presented themselves. There were jazz concerts at Festival Club Café Modjeska.

“Festival „City” is a natural consequence of the “pro-urban” artistic program of Jacek Głomb and his Modjeska Theatre in Legnica. What he really cares in his undertakings is always a social context of the theatre what makes also important an alive contact with the citizens of the city. They create a “social space” of Modjeska Theatre by watching projects performed in a real venue, reasoned for staging. It is usually found by the crew of Legnica theatre and it has got the past marks. And outfit tries to revitalize these places permanently.

As Głomb says in his manifest: “We want to meet You in the Theatre whose stage is all the city (…) in the sense that the theatre takes over various spaces within Legnica – be it an old factory hall, a ruined cinema, a run-down theatre, a medieval church or a courtyard of  the castle. (…) Nevertheless the point is not to have a showy “playing in ruins” or becoming more and more fashionable coming out of the theatre building. What we really mean is to propose the conscious choice of the venue to realize a performance where a retold story will be inseparably connected with the place.”

All the participants invited for the festival were supposed to prepare the premieres in seven different venues: post-German, post-Soviet and post-PRP (People’s Republic of Poland). The artists have selected them in January from among the places proposed by the organizers. Five days before the premiere they all started the rehearsals in the selected venues. The results of their work were differently corresponding with the formula of “City”. The closest staging or thematic relation with a specific venue, with Legnica or the citizen of region had two Polish performances and the Polish-Russian one. (…)

There were also associated to Festival “City” projects like promotion of the book “Modjeska Plays”, an anthology  containing a collection of the plays written specially for Modjeska Theatre (dev. by Robert Urbański, introduction Krzysztof Kopka). It is a noted book for contemporary dramaturgy, where one can read different scripts – by Kamza, Głomb, Kopka, Kowalewski, Pruchniewski, Urbański i Wojcieszek who wrote about the relevant for Legnica theater matters.

Jacek Głomb is the backer of idealistic theatre which is addressed to different social classes. According to an interesting formula of “City” – Głomb provided to his faithful audience contact with the other artists and different theatre style. Enthusiastic responses of the audience – each premiered had a standing ovation – allow to think that festival went to meet the people expectations.

Next edition is planning to be done next two years, but festival events may cause long-term results: by systematical performing in different venues theatre brings them back to the life, often saving them from demolition and getting it back to the citizens. For instance: in the building in Kartuska street where “Lemko” was performed soon it is supposed to be opened The Centre of Children and Youth Education. There could be organized free of charge workshops for the citizens of Zakaczawie, very neglected district. It is worth to wait for any farther actions of Modjeska Theatre.”   

Magdalena Gołaczyńska, „Miejsca i ślady” (Venues and traces”), Teatr nr 11/2007




CITY IS A STAGE


„Theatre whose stage is the city”, a catchword invented and realized by Jacek Głomb, the most adequate characterizes the way he has been leading the Modjeska Theatre since 1994. This idea directed him to the festival that is held in off the theatre buildings scattered in all around the city of Legnica.

When Głomb started his work in Legnica, he was supposed to find out how to create a theatre in the place marked by the history where the art was not popular very much so far. He noticed that Legnica was a city not liked very much by its own citizens and they did not value it much. With the theatre Głomb decided to discover to the inhabitants all the rarity of the town, to see how the muddled history was created by Germans, Ukrainians, Gypsies, Lemkos, Jews, Poles from Vilnius, Lvov, Grodno…

Since the audience did not want to come to theatre, theatre had to go to meet its halfway. Głomb started – lasting till now – the odyssey across the forgotten, neglected and uncared districts and its undiscovered venues that were so many in Legnica.  Thanks to theatre inhabitants could for the very first time came into the buildings which for many years were occupied by the Russians staying in the town.

Modjeska Theatre works according to the rule that “real stories are supposed to be retold in the real venues”. This is the way the theatre performances were staged: Passion – in an evangelical church, Bad – in an old factory hall, Coriolanus – in Prussian barracks, Hamlet – in a ruined culture house, or famous Ballade of Zakaczawie – in closed cinema “Railway man”. This is how the forgotten theatre became a part of the city, and shortly also its signature.  Today theatre is invited for the festivals in all over Poland and known to all theatergoer.  

At the beginning of work, Jacek Głomb set his sights on theatre.  He did not try to follow all the Polish trends by choosing a fashion aesthetic or produce a performance about intellectual grievance. He created a theatre regarded directly to its reality. For many years he has been retelling simple stories involved in the local tradition. He listens the voices of the inhabitants and finds them as indispensable for the stage in Legnica. As he says: “The catchword of new venues for the theatre I understand as producing projects in places other than a casual stage. But the same or even of bigger importance is also a social space i.e. simply the audience.”

This kind of thinking is situated near ex-alternative theatres. Głomb admits to the inspirations from these old experiences. One can find it in the way the theatre play its productions (off the traditional stage and audience), in the political and social matters present in the plays,  in the responsibility for the spectators and for the place where art is created. And obviously – in the strong belief that the theatre can change the reality. All of it makes stage in Legnica different, one of a kind and distinct character.

The newest event of Modjeska Theatre was theatre festival on the dense map of Polish festivals. However “City” it is still exceptional. The main idea seems to be very interesting – to create a world premiere inspired by the venue. The risk of all the event was huge: there was no opportunity to find out what kind of the production will be prepared in the selected earlier places. Artists have only once visited the city and all the work was done in the place they live.

Regarding to this idea, few neglected and ruined venues became a space for the art, at least for the evenings of the festival performances. They were performed in ex-Soviet bunker, ex-Summer Theatre, in wardrobe hall, in an ex-Variétés theatre, in ruined culture house, in evangelical church…

Festival program allowed the audience to look at the activity of Legnica theatre from different perspective. It was also a promotion of the book “Modjeska Plays”, an anthology  containing a collection of the plays written specially for Modjeska Theatre (dev. by Robert Urbański, introduction Krzysztof Kopka). There was a way to pay the spectators attention to the texts the performances of Modjeska Theatre are based on. And it allows to understand better the topics, problems, issues that are the base of the plays and important for the writers.  

Anthology consists of eight different texts that are merged by the premiere place. Mostly they are the theatre scripts more than dramas. Some of them could not be realized anywhere else by other directors or team. Nonetheless they are a very interesting supplement of Legnica stage working and present how Poland looks from the perspective of Modjeska Theatre like. (…).

Paulina Skorupska, „Teatr wychodzi w przestrzeń miasta” („Theatre goes out in the space of the city”), Scena nr 5/2007




They were, they saw, they wrote…


Performances off the theatre buildings – are very common today. From Edinburgh to Moscow actors perform at railway stations, supermarkets, trams terminals and ex-plants halls. But to make all the city as a stage? This is possible only in Legnica, a Polish capital theatre OFF the theatre. Project “CITY” is a natural consequence of activity of Jacek Głomb’s, the chief of Modjeska Theatre, who for last several years consistently has attained new territories of the city for the theatre. The group has already performed at ex-German plant hall, a former barracks of Soviet Army or a ruined culture house. They have performed at the church and at courtyard of the castle.

And they have already produced the performances that made them known: “Ballad of Zakaczawie”, a story about Legnica bad-fame district presented at closed cinema “Kolejarz” (Railway man) and Przemysław Wojcieszek’s “Made in Poland” about rebellious blocker, a play performed at a former shopping pavilion located in Legnica house-block district. “From this kind of ‘real stories in real places’ we have built the most pro-urban theatre in Poland. Now we would like to invite to cooperation other groups and to share the city with them.” – says Jacek Głomb.


Roman Pawłowski, Gazeta Wyborcza



There was not such a kind festival before. At first – eight theater groups from Russia, Georgia, Italy, USA and Poland come to Legnica. And inspired by local Modjeska Theatre they watched brick tenement houses and factories built in before-war Liegnitz, crumbled remains of textile proud of PRP (Polish Republic of Poland) – the plants “Milana”. Or the remains of “little Moscow” (Legnica was called like that): 1100 buildings of the closed garrison barracks of Soviet Army.

Half a year later they came back with the ready performances that included history of Legnica and its architecture as the city located in the Recovered Territories. A closed fabric hall, an empty warehouse, a drab Soviet bunker, a ruined hall of an ex-theatre or St. Mary church have become the stages for four September days of 1st International Theatre Festival “City”.

Education mission was accompanied by the attempts of revitalization of ruined, post-German tenement houses and fabrics that were the proud of ex- PRP dignitaries. Sometimes it worked: at an ex-supermarket in Piekary district (where “Made in Poland” was performed) today there is an artistic community center for children. After the premiere of performance “Lemko”, played at the ruined and pulling down ex-variétés theatre hall from the end of XIX century, the city authorities declared to reconstruct and get it back to the citizens. Probably there will be the culture centre.

And it seems that the way of playing in Legnica – off the theatre – can be fruitful because this kind of venues’ choice is not just a fashion or the lack of better place, but it comes directly from the history that is supposed to be told.


Aneta Kyzioł, Polityka
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