Theatre Węgajty. Fieldwork Project
11-042 jonkowo     węgajty 18     phone/fax: (0048-89) 5129297     art director: wacław sobaszek    
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about the theatre

Teatr Węgajty

In the spring of 1982 we came to Węgajty as the theatre group of the Olsztyn "Pracownia" ("Laboratory"), an interdisciplinary research-cum-creation outpost which in the course of the introduction of martial law had lost its place in the city. We started adapting an agricultural building for the needs of a theatre. It was a part of an abandoned Warmian farm, situated one kilometre off the village, at the edge of the forest. We continued showing the Pracownia performances on tours. On the spot, in Węgajty, we started off from doing workshops. The first workshop cycle, called "The Way of the Theatre" started in July 1982. In the new and, after all, hard conditions, the group started crumbling away. In 1986, a new group came into being together with the arrival of Małgorzata and Wolfgang Niklaus. The Theatre we established together took its name from the name of our village. Soon, the group was joined by Witek Broda, Ewa Wronowska and later by Katarzyna Krupka.

The founding of the Village Theatre "Węgajty" had some special importance in the political context of the time. The first achievements of the ensemble were received as announcing a revival of public life and democratic reform. In the times of the "long night" of the eighties, after the martial law, what was essential were the organic, preparatory activities. That was the "time of culture". What characterised the first performances of the "Węgajty" Theatre was their new attitude towards tradition. It was on one hand disillusioning, casting off stereotypes and clichĂŠs of the PRL epoch. On the other hand, however, it was important that "Węgajty's" performances revealed the world of multiethnic and multicultural tradition. "Vincenz"s Stories", "The Inn Towards Eternal Peace" based on Czesław Miłosz's "Valley of Issa" - performances directed by Wacław Sobaszek - appealed to the young generation, to people who were undertaking the task of creating new institutions of public life in the region of Warmia and Mazury. A part of this process was the struggle for "Węgajty" theatre to be officially acknowledged in the village and to be given an independent status.

The first performances of "Węgajty" made also a tremendous impression on theatre festivals home and abroad. One perceived in them elements of a new "countryside" current in the Polish theatre. They were received in the context of the current changes in central Europe, especially that the theatre, apart from performances, presented also documentation of their research work, run in such countries as Macedonia, Belarus, Slovakia and Ukraine. These were searches in the field of folk song and ritual theatre.

The first performances: "Vincenz' stories. Of the Real Jew, Antichrist and Arch-Holy Metropolite" (1988) based on Stanisław Vincenz' work, "Inn towards Eternal Peace" (1992) based on "The Valley of Issa" by Czesław Miłosz, "Canterbury Tales" (1996) based on Geoffrey Chaucer's work. Presentations on theatre festivals (e.g. "Na Granicy" - "On the border" - in Cieszyn, grand prix 1993), performances in Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Switzerland and Spain.

1991 - the establishing of the non-government organization - "Węgajty" Association (the present name) in which, since 1995, apart from the Węgajty Theatre, there has been also the ensemble Schola Węgajty (artistic director: Wolfgang Niklaus).

The next performances of Węgajty Theatre are: "Kalevala - the Unwritten Passages" (2000), "The Ghastly Shroud" (2001) - an open-air performance based on Adam Mickiewicz's "Dziady" ("The Ancestors"), "Synczyzna" ("Sonland") (2004), based on Witold Gombrowicz's "Wedding" and "Trans-Atlantic". Since 2000, the theatre has been organizing The Other Theatre School, a cycle of workshops and expeditions along the path of carolling, carnival and the Easter alleluia carolling. Since 2003 we have been organizing the festival Theatre Village. The festival was in 2008 rewarded the "Pro Publico Bono" award for the best citizens' work of the year. The last performances of the Węgajty Theatre came into being in the frames of the Four Elements, realized basing on fieldwork expeditions of the Other Theatre School - "Water 2030" (2010) - shown in Poland and Germany - "Earth B" (2011) - shown in Poland, Germany, France, Belarus - "Fire, Crisis, Central Station" (2012) - "Air E(x)mission" (2013). The continuation of the cycle is the performance "Wielogłos" ("Multivoice") (2014). Independently from the Other Theatre School current of work, we run activities rooted in the local community - the performance by Erdmute Sobaszek and Zofia Bartoszewicz "The Prologue for a Comedy", based on texts by Wisława Szymborska and Anna Wojtyniak, an inhabitant of the village Nowe Kawkowo - as well as theatre projects with the participation of local children.

In 2008 we started the program of the Necessary Theatre. Projects started with the participation of the residents of the nearby Social Care House in Jonkowo. The performances - "Wedding, a Public Domain" (2009) - "Iwona - Married" based on texts by Witold Gombrowicz (2010) - "Midsummer's Night's Dream" (2011) - "Crocodiles' Street" with the texts of Bruno Schulz (2014).

Balancing on the border between creating theatre and music on one hand, and education and culture animation on the other is the axis of our work. Holding on to that direction is like holding on to the source of energy, vitality and inventiveness. Together with the local direction, oriented onto cooperation of local initiatives, we simultaneously realize our intention of solving essential existential and global problems. We continue the theme undertaken in 2010, the ecological theme of the "future". The performance entitled "Water 2030" concerned the problems of climate change. In Poland the subject has not been very popular until recently, but in the present season it is beginning to occur to the public opinion more and more sharply. We intend in the years 2016 - 2017 to sum up the works of our theatre cycle, in the frames of complex presentations, in the context of the jubilee of our work in Węgajty. The intellectual frames of this event have been defined by the formula "Sources and the future". The more practical rather than symbolic purpose is to make our own sources available, to make available our experiences of the beginnings way back in the dark times of the martial law and in the years of the rebirth of democracy. It is about sharing those experiences with young people, who will one day inherit the Węgajty "theatra".

(Midsummer Day)


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