The giant of international theatre on a head-on collision with authority. Krystian Lupa revolts against the Kafkaesque reality of his homeland.
Actors are fired, directors walk out, long-awaited performances are censored, the theatre is in decline. An ultra-conservative government dismisses the art director of a historic theatre, replacing him with someone of their liking.
Any similarity to people and situations is intentional. Kafka’s “Trial” reflects present-day Poland to a chilling degree. A victim of the practices afflicting the historic Polski Theatre in Wroclaw, Krystian Lupa resorts to prophetic dystopia, which echoes our absurd world.
“It is me. It is us. We are arrested.” The cry of the Polish director about the instances of censorship in his country culminates in a five-hour performance cum existential experience. Black tape seals the mouths of the seventeen actors, who strike out against the violation of freedom of expression, government corruption and the annihilation of the citizen in a Kafkaesque country.
The nightmare of Josef K., who is arrested by forces of the regime automatically becomes the nightmare of Polski Theatre, of Krystian Lupa, of Poland, of Europe.
creditsDirection, Adaptation, Scenography & Lighting Design: Krystian Lupa
Costumes: Piotr Skiba
Music: Bogumił Misala
Video, Lighting Collaboration: Bartosz Nalazek
Animations: Kamil Polak
Glosses: Krystian Lupa, Andrzej Kłak, Marta Zięba, Marcin Pempuś, Adam Szczyszczaj, Małgorzata Gorol, Radosław Stępień
Dramaturgy Collaboration, Directorial Assistance: Radosław Stępień, Konrad Hetel
Video Assistant, Camera Operator: Natan Berkowicz
Costume Assistant: Aleksandra Harasimowicz
Porn Book Illustration; Portrait of The Attorney: Andrzej Kłak
Titorelli’s Desolate Landscape: Ninel Kameraz-Kos
Cast: Bożena Baranowska, Bartosz Bielenia / Maciej Charyton, Małgorzata Gorol, Anna Ilczuk, Mikołaj Jodliński, Andrzej Kłak, Dariusz Maj, Michał Opaliński, Marcin Pempuś, Halina Rasiakówna, Piotr Skiba, Ewa Skibińska, Adam Szczyszczaj, Andrzej Szeremeta, Wojciech Ziemiański, Marta Zięba, Ewelina Żak
Stage Manager, Camera Operator: Łukasz Jóźków / Sylwia Merk
Head of Production: Anna Czerniawska
Coordinator, Production Assistant: Sylwia Merk
Technical Coordinator: Paweł Paciorek
Translated into English: Dominika Gajewska, Artur Zapałowski
Subtitles: Adrianna Książek
Lighting Technicians: Dariusz Adamski (Nowy Teatr); Daniel Sanjuan Ciepielewski (TR Warszawa)
Sound Technicians: Mirosław Burkot (Nowy Teatr); Antoni Mantorski (TR Warszawa)
Video Technicians: Maciej Żurczak (Nowy Teatr); Marcin Metelski (TR Warszawa)
Props: Mateusz Andracki, Tomasz Laskowski (Nowy Teatr); Piotr Bogumił (TR Warszawa)
Makeup & Hair: Monika Kaleta
Dresser: Iryna Kacharava, Ewa Sokołowska (Nowy Teatr)
Stage Services: Paweł Kłosiński, Kacper Maszkiewicz, Tytus Zaliwski (Nowy Teatr); Tomasz Trojanowski, Robert Tomala, Piotr Gromek (TR Warszawa)
Chief Producer: Nowy Teatr
Producers: Studio teatrgaleria; Teatr Powszechny; TR Warszawa; Le Quai Centre Dramatique National Angers Pays de la Loire
Co-producers: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Bruxelles; Printemps des Comédiens, Montpellier; Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, Paris; Festival d’Automne à Paris; La Filature, Scène nationale – Mulhouse; Théâtre du Nord, Lille; La rose des vents - Scène nationale Lille Métropole Villeneuve-d’Ascq; HELLERAU - Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden; Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens
Partner: Teatr Polski w Podziemiu
Co-financed by Miasto Stołeczne Warszawa
Premiere: the 15th of November 2017, Nowy Teatr, Warsaw
After he was banished from Polski Theatre, Lupa managed to produce the “Trial” due to the support of European cultural establishments and foundations. The Onassis Stegi was one of the first bodies to back this initiative. The performance premiered in Krzysztof Warlikowski
’s Nowy Teatr in Warsaw.
The ruling Polish party “Rights and Justice” is considered ultra-conservative, as it defends nationalist and Catholic ideals.
Censorship in Polski Theatre peaked in 2016, when art director Krzysztof Mieszkowski was replaced by TV actor Cezary Morawski. These developments caused great animosity inside and outside Poland. Ten thousand people signed the petition for Morawski’s removal, including Peter Brook, Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert.
The “Trial” follows the story of Josef K., who is arrested one morning. Trapped in the impersonal system of bureaucratic insanity, he is summarily executed.
Linking the behaviour of present-day authority to Kafka’s work, Lupa observes: “ came as a response to the circumstances, because our reality continues to echo with the same motifs. This type of strange, grim attack on man through a court; an accusation; removing, extirpating man by means of law; as well as this extraordinary, demagogic discourse that the authorities – and others – are currently employing in the accounting done between the state and the individual – all of it is strikingly reminiscent of the Kafkian model, along with the irrationality and sense of panic, the futility of defence and the loss of one’s sense of reality that we are currently witnessing. All of these are components of Kafka; here, we see them occurring in a different constellation, as ingredients in a different cocktail, so to speak, but they remain essentially unchanged.”
In 1943, one of the most important personalities of the contemporary Polish and European theatre was born in Silesia, Poland. In his youth, he experimented with studies in Physics but he soon turned to the arts, graduating as a graphic designer from the Krakow School of Fine Arts, after which he went on to study cinema and theatre. Influenced by the theatre personality and visual artist Tadeusz Kantor, the director Andrei Tarkovsky and the theatre director Konrad Swinarski, he started directing in the mid 70s turning to psychological theatre, an esoteric theatre of human relations, and he has by now become renowned for the way he handles silence and time.
Since the early 1980s, he has presented some of his most characteristic productions in collaboration with Stary Teatr. He soon started cultivating his obsessions through the works of Bernhard, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov and Broch. He adapted “The Brothers Karamazov”, “Platonov”, “The Sleepwalkers”, “Immanuel Kant and The Three Sisters”, while in 1996 he joined Teatr Polski.
He visited Athens for the first time in 2004 in the context of the Athens Festival with a theatrical adaptation of Nietzsche’s “Zarathustra”.
The high quality of his art is mirrored in the penetrating performance of his actors and the amazing cohesion of the way he directs. In his 74th year, he continues to produce influential performances, the most recent of which are “Woodcutters” in 2014 and “The Trial” in 2018.