Adam Mickiewicz

Mickiewicz. Forefather’s. Eve

director, set design: Paweł Wodziński
music: Stefan Węgłowski
costumes, light directing: Agata Skwarczyńska
scenic movement: Aneta Jankowska
vocal coaching: Agnieszka Sowa
video: Remigiusz Zawadzki

premiere: 22 April 2011

Mickiewicz. Forefathers’ Eve. Performance

Forefathers' Eve is the last link in the three-piece romantic project carried out in recent years in the Polish Theatre in Bydgoszcz by Paweł Wodziński. The performance is an attempt to “regain” and rationalize romantic narrative, manipulated and abused for many years, used ad hoc up until now by politicians and the Catholic church, as well as the market and the media, people creating on their particular basis new versions of old mythologies. Wodziński’s interpretation goes outside the set patterns of looking at the text of Mickiewicz’s Forefathers' Eve in the context of death, mourning and national martyrdom. The Bydgoszcz staging focuses on building community and strengthening its own identity; it is a story, overflowing with rage and anger, about the power of ritual which integrates marginalized communities. The creators’ intention was to take an ironic and critical look at the text, stripping it of accrued, trivializing interpretations and emphasizing that Forefathers' Eve is not just a literary text but also a holistic identity project that can awaken diverse doubts nowadays.

Quotes from reviews:

“From tents in a refugee camp to barriers on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, that is the history of two centuries of Polish exclusion and resentments – that's the scenery and the main theme of the latest staging of Forefathers' Eve. The ritual of this forefathers’ eve conducted by ragamuffins – who can just as well be Polish refugees in Paris after the November Uprising, today’s “defenders of the cross” camping in front of the Presidential Palace, as well as escapees from the Tunisian revolution on the Italian island of Lampedusa – is wild and full of cruelty. The element of suffering and sacrifice, without which one cannot become a member of a tribal community, comes through. Gustaw-Konrad – full of wild power and rebellion, turned towards the future and not the past – stays outside the community, who cultivates powerlessness. He recites the Great Improvisation half-naked, with foam at his mouth, standing among the audience and challenging God, Polish powerlessness and the world, equally. However, he will quickly lose his momentum, slide into Polish marasmus, succumb to the power of the priest Piotr – representative of the church, guardian of the cult of national myths and the archetype of a victim. The counterpoints of our national madness are testimonies from the 19th century, journals and reports of foreigners travelling through Poland at that time, who instead of martyrdom and elevated suffering see wilderness, mud, the backwardness of civilization and culture, the inhuman treatment of peasants by the gentry.”
Aneta Kyzioł, Polityka 2011 no. 20

“The most important prop is metal barriers like the ones that divided the people in front of the Presidential Palace protesting after the Smolensk disaster. In Forefathers' Eve, they constitute a border wall between social groups – not even divided against themselves, but having no contact whatsoever. The director chose the role of a strict observer. He sat astride the barricade of the Polish-Polish war and shows us what is happening on both sides. In the performance, one side is taken by the tent city. Its frustrated inhabitants vegetate and look for hope in religious and national myths. They participate in the ritual of the forefathers’ eve. On the other side, there is the Warsaw salon, a pathetic parody of world elites. Snobbish creatures who give in to Western novelties and dazzle with richness with the zest of provincial nouveau riche. They play golf, using oranges instead of balls. Those two Polands have one common denominator: isolation from reality. They levitate. And the world has been running away. For several centuries. This is emphasized by critical texts of foreign travellers passing through our country in the past – terrified with poverty, chaos, destroyed nature, ugliness of architecture and relations among Poles. Historical sentences are uttered from LED displays by foreigners living in Poland nowadays. Has so little really changed? It seems that we still have the opinions of losers who feel best in the role of victims. Martyrdom is one of our ways to live. Another is contempt for our own country, our own nation. We reel from wall to wall. A golden medium is missing.”
Jacek Cieślak, Rzeczpospolita online, 6.05.2011

“Where is anger hidden nowadays? Strong enough to question the world order and create a national mystery play? Paweł Wodziński, staging Forefathers' Eve, draws the audience into a journey through refugee camps, shelters for the homeless, fenced-off pavement in front of the Presidential Palace. It is there that he is not interested in Konrad, who respects the order of the debate and follows rules of fair play. He looks for a drunk madman, someone determined enough to challenge democracy, common sense. The creators of the performance noticed how anarchistic Mickiewicz’s Forefathers' Eve was at some point in time. It was overflowing with rage and the desire to rebel; bold, threatening postulates were uttered there. It was unacceptable. The creative team verifies who we absolutely deny rights nowadays, who we look at with condescending sympathy or fear. […] Miss Rollison comes to the Senator not as a dignified matron, but a ʻwoman beneath the cross’. Does the fact that she is hopelessly dressed and peculiar deprive her of her right to complain? Paweł Wodziński felt that anger has a greater power to create myths than so-called love of one’s country. He therefore studied where a new bard, new romanticism, new subversive movement can come to life today. If it is truly under the cross, then we have a problem.”
Joanna Derkaczew, Gazeta Wyborcza 2011, no. 111, Wysokie Obcasy supplement

scenography: Krzysztof Garbaczewski, Robert Mleczko
Polish Theatre in Poznan

Forefathers' Eve
scenography: Robert Rumas
Polish Theatre, Wroclaw

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tel. +48 22 745 10 30

tel. +48 22 745 10 30