Stefan OkołowiczKrzysztof Warlikowskis new theatre project about guilt, forgiveness and vengeance

© (A)pollonia Foto: Stefan Okołowicz

Krzysztof Warlikowski's new project is based on classical and contemporary texts, primarily excerpts from Euripides' "Alcestis", the "Oresteia" by Aeschylus, and Hanna Krall's "Apolonia". The erudite script also includes fragments of Jonathan Littell's "Les Bienveillantes", J.M Coetzee's "Elizabeth Costello", Marek Edelman's memoirs "Love in the Ghetto", Rabidranath Tagore's drama "The Post Office", and quotes from Małgorzata Szumowska's film "There is Nothing to be Afraid of".

By bringing together these texts, Warlikowski seeks to shed light on the ambiguous and sombre history of sacrifice, and self-sacrifice – giving up one's life for another – in particular. Stories of mythological characters ruled by Fate are complemented and reflected in twentieth-century experience with its helplessness in the face of the Holocaust. In the act of sacrifice the executioner becomes no less important than the victim.

Warlikowski studies various aspects of sacrifice, setting the enforced sacrifice of Iphigenia against Alcestis' voluntary offering up of her life to save her husband. But he raises doubts as to the "sanctity" of voluntary sacrifice. For all the grand theories of killing that executioners construct when trying to justify their actions, their talk about "following orders", their invoking of historical necessity, we still find it difficult to forgive them. The issue of guilt and forgiveness in Warlikowski's new production is complemented by an unexpected theme: that of vengeance. And that accounts for the presence of Clytemnestra and Orestes, as well as of Agamemnon, who speaks in phrases taken from Littell.

A great achievement of Krzysztof Warlikowski's adaptation is its blending of idioms taken from diverse linguistic and historical contexts, and the various discourses it employs.

Directed by: Krzysztof Warlikowski
Adaptation: Krzysztof Warlikowski, Jacek Poniedziałek, Piotr Gruszczyński

Co-production: Festival d’Avignon, Théatre National de Chaillot, Paris, Théatre de la Place de Liege, Comédie de Geneve-Centre Dramatique, Théatre Royal de la Monnaie de Bruxelles, Narodowy Stary Teatr im. Heleny Modrzejewskiej w Krakowie.

The text is an excerpt taken from Nowy Teatr´s official press material.


Theater Hebbel am Ufer
04.06. and 05.06.2010, 19:00
during the festival "Polski Express" in Berlin
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