Rediscovering the avant-garde and Weichert |

Anthology of nearly 600 pages Polish theatrical avant-garde 1919-1939 was edited by Dariusz Kosiński and Dorota Fox. The preparation of the volume was one of the elements of the “research project” The vanguard rediscovered. Polish and Central European theatrical avant-garde funded by the Ministry of Education and Science under the National Program for the Development of Humanities. Rafał Węgrzyniak writes in a column for the portal.

photo: carpet. theater institute

Kosiński does not hide in the introduction entitled Specify a fieldthat its publication is intended to replace the one published in 1973 – in the series Theories of contemporary theater – edited by Stanisław Marczak-Oborski with the help of Lidia Kuchtówna – a 450-page anthology Theatrical thought of the Polish avant-garde 1919-1939, although 16 texts have been transferred from it. In total, there were 49 texts in Marczak-Oborski’s anthology, while Kosiński’s study contained 66. However, the assumptions of the publication were slightly changed, because apart from theoretical considerations, Kosiński introduced up to 25 performance reviews in his anthology. .

Kosiński tried to make various revisions, first of all expanding the notion of avant-garde without moderation. After all, it was a margin in the theatrical life of interwar Poland, the only undisputed manifestation of which was Cricot, founded in Krakow by Józef Jarema. Kosiński therefore decided to include in the avant-garde – otherwise following Marczak-Oborski, or rather the scenographer Andrzej Pronaszka – performances created on urban repertoire stages staged by directors from the current dominant of the Polish theater: Leon Schiller (Achilles Wyspiansky, Pink Żeromski, Shout out China! Tretiakowa), Wilam Horzyca (The Man Who Was Thursday Chesterton) or Edmund Wierciński (Dream Kruszewska, Dream of a summer night Shakespeare).

Kosiński, like Marczak-Oborski, also argues that the Reduta studio was an avant-garde scene, starting from the naturalist I’ll grow whiter above the snow Żeromski. (The volume, by mistake, illustrates the review of the Warsaw premiere by Władysław Zawistowski with a photo of the Krakow production at the Słowacki Theater.) criticize and even condemn, like the cooperation of the Futurists with the State of Mussolini, this in the cases does not mean that these movements within the political “punishment” must be deprived of the title of avant-garde. The detours, treated not so long ago as Reduta’s greatest achievement, turned out to be a “colonizing project” worthy of condemnation because of the fascism concealed in this passage, which was to bind Poland under Piłsudski’s reign “in the state of Mussolini”. Especially since Kosiński is haunted by Juliusz Osterwa’s letter to Stefan Jaracz from 1943, “the acceptance of the Holocaust as witnessed by Agata Adamiecka-Sitek”, on which, as he notes in a footnote, “it will be painful to come back one day”. However, so far – despite the announcements – he has not commented on the manifestations of Osterwa’s anti-Semitism revealed in his Road diaries 1938-1939.

On the other hand, Kosinski sees no reason to condemn the representatives of the left vanguard for cooperating with Stalin’s state, betraying Poland and promoting Soviet communism with its terror or the camp system. work, which culminated in mass genocide. Antonina Sokolicz is only presented by him in the introduction as a “leftist feminist”. The same goes for Witold Wandurski’s biography at the end of the volume., there is no communism or Soviet Union at all. It is therefore impossible to know who sentenced the author to death in 1934 Death on a pear tree for “nationalist deviation”.

Part of Kosiński’s revision is the inclusion in the history of the Polish avant-garde of the Jewish Experimental Studio Teatr Młodych, founded in the 1932/33 season in Warsaw by Michał Weichert. Kosiński implemented my postulate published in 2017 and noted in the bibliography doctor trials Weichertto the staging Boston Blume, transferred from the Young Theater to the Polish Studio. Żeromski in Żoliborz, also considered the work of a Yiddish director and a testimony to the interpenetration of the two theatrical avant-gardes. In Marczak-Oborski’s anthology – when reprinting discussion of architectural design by Szymon and Helena Syrkus About the theater simultaneous – in the intro Boston It was only treated as the work of its authors, that is to say the scenographers. The mysterious director M. Brandt, without explaining that it was Weichert’s pseudonym, appeared only in the captions of two illustrations showing the simultaneous setting of the Żoliborz Boston.

The disclosure of the contents of the copy of the “Biuletyn Studia Teatralny im. Żeromski” of June 1933, which is a program Boston. In the anthology, Syrkus’s text was reprinted from this “Bulletin” The theoryand Weichert, published under the pseudonym of Brandt, The staging of “Boston” and contemporary theater. Moreover, the anthology that I quoted in Dr. Weichert’s essays Report by Wanda Kragen from Żoliborz Boston, published in Kraków’s Jewish but Polish “Nowy Dziennik”, and a study by Zygmunt Tonecki supporting Jung Teater Architecture and technology in contemporary staging, published in 1935 in the periodical “Wiedza i Życie”, which was not indicated in the footnote, probably using an overprint. (The production of this exceptional critic of Jewish origin and probably named Totengreber, in Marczak’s anthology was represented by the sketch Technology as a precursor to creativity spectacular.)

Of course, recalling up to four texts for a theater historian can be a source of satisfaction. (For the sake of accuracy, however, it should be noted that the anthology includes another text concerning Boston, A new kind of theater published anonymously in Tygodnik Ilustrowany. He was quoted as early as 1962 in “Pamiętnik Teatralny” in a dissertation by Bożena Frankowska on the Teatr im. Żeromski.) Unfortunately, the editors of the volume did not study my Weichert monograph, unlike Kosiński, who already referred to it in his sketch close, get closer in the three-volume exhibition catalog published in 2020 Change Parameter. Weichert’s biographical note at the end of the anthology is riddled with errors (he emigrated to Israel in 1958, not “in 1957”), distortions (the Jewish Support Center turned into “Jewish Self- Help Office”) and shortcomings (no information that the author Mississippi was Lejb Małach, and on Weichert’s writing and directing outside the Jung Teater). In turn, in one of the footnotes it was stated that Boston is “a scenic report based on a drama by Bernhard Blume (based on the famous book by Upton Sinclair)”. In fact, Weichert only took the title from Sinclair’s novel when a censor in Warsaw did not accept the original Blume, In the name of the peoplewho never appears in the anthology. Another footnote contained inaccurate information that Weichert’s team “in the years 1937-1939 operated in Vilnius as a new theatre”, as they stayed in this city only six months during of the 1937/38 season. Weichert’s contacts with prominent Polish theater artists, which could further justify his inclusion in the anthology, have been completely omitted, except for his work in Irena Solska’s studio. Weichert’s influence on the post-war experiences of Tadeusz Kantor and Jerzy Grotowski, noticed by Tadeusz Kudliński, and further proven by me in the monograph, was also not mentioned, although it was indicated in the case of Witkacy.

It is only in Weichert’s biography that the term “Jewish-Polish director” appears, although the second part is debatable, given that his production includes only one transfer of the direction to the Polish stage. . Syrkus is also expected to appear as a Polish-Jewish set designer, as he used the name Szyja for a Catholic baptism and wedding in 1927, and later continued to collaborate with Yiddish scenes. Moreover, the second, besides Bostona set design by Syrkus – otherwise common with Pronaszka – mentioned in the anthology, i.e. performed in the arena of a Warsaw circus in 1928 Golem Leiwik, directed by Marek Arenstein, is actually a manifestation of Jewish theater in Polish.

However, the editors of the anthology are unaware of what was happening in interwar Poland on the border of the two cultures. In a footnote on Arenstein to the discussion Golem there is not even a mention of his projects in Łódź and Warsaw The Dibbuk An-ski in Polish, from 1925. In a footnote to Bolesław Miciński’s journal Daniel Wyspiański, performed at the City Hall in Warsaw by the Żeromski Theater, although it was noted that the premiere of this work took place in 1927 at the Jewish Theater in Krakow, but it was not added that it was directed by Antoni Piekarski. (I first described this performance in 1995 in a sketch Dramas Wyspiański at the Krokewer Jidisz Teater.)

Contrary to the current state of knowledge, the opening information – located among Notes on authors and authors a biography of Helena Syrkusowa that she was “born Niemirowska” because – as already established many years ago by architectural historians – before her marriage she had seen the surname Eliasberg carried over from a year following an error in the anthology, and she stated that she was born Niemirowska, to hide her Jewish origins. The omission of this revision is all the more surprising since it has just been published in the volume The CIAM archipelago Letters from Helena Syrkus showing its high position in the International Congress of Modern Architecture. Despite the tendency to do justice to wives who are overshadowed by their husbands or to wives who are not fully appreciated, Syrkusowa was also eliminated from the group of authors in Polish literature. Bostondespite the fact that in the program she is co-responsible for the “spatial shaping of the show”. This is the only case of her working with her husband on a theater show that I know of. In the footer printed several times in the anthology Boston it is also in vain that we look for Jerzy Kossowski of La Redoute, who prepared “the translation and adaptation”. The editors of the anthology simply did not read the program used in it Bostonnor with its reproductions in my monograph.

I only discovered the anthology after submitting it to the printing press, when I was asked to provide the addresses of Weichert’s descendants living in Israel. The editors of the anthology therefore had no intention of contacting me. In this case it is not about me, because as a historian I was honored there, also as the author of the description of the two versions Boston compiled for the online encyclopedia of Polish theatre, but for the aggrieved Weichert.

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