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2004 | 53 | 1-4 | 131-461

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Gombrowicz in Thetre: Betwen West and East

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Various studies and historical materials mentioned below concern the presence of Gombrowicz's works in theatres abroad. In a study 'Improvisation with a Corpse: The Theatre of Witold Gombrowicz Enters the 21st Century' Allen J. Kuharski takes a look at the future of Gombrowicz's theatre in English speaking countries by examining its past and present, and searching for analogies between the present state of the American and British theatre and the situation of theatre in Continental Europe in the 1960's. The author concludes that the influence of Lecoq's school of acting and some signs of interest in Gombrowicz among young theatre artists in Philadelphia and California justify the belief that, with some luck, there will be more of Gombrowicz in English speaking countries, if his works do not fall victim of anti-intellectualism currently prevailing in British theatre. The presence of Gombrowicz in France is illustrated by an interview with Jorge Lavelli. Inquired by A.Kumor, he talks about his experiences with staging 'The Marriage', 'Princess Yvonne' and 'Operetta', and the way Gombrowicz influenced his view of theatre. The interview is followed by Gombrowicz's correspondence with Lavelli and Jadwiga Kukulczanka, who, with George Sidre, translated 'The Marriage' into French as well as letters exchanged in 1969-1970 by Witold and Rita Gombrowicz with persons involved in the production of 'Operetta' at Theatre National Populaire: Jean Ruaud, and Jacques Rosner. According to Daniel Pietrek, Gombrowicz is one of the most popular Polish playwrights in Germany, and, for example, ,Princess Yvonne, - the most popular of Gombrowicz's plays - had 78 premieres there. This situation makes it possible for the author to describe Gombrowicz' presence in German theatre in more general terms. Pietrek distinguishes three phases of Gombrowicz's reception: from 1964 to 1970, from 1970 to 1990, and from 1990 to 2003. The first phase is the process of introducing the author and his works to the audience. Although understanding of Gombrowicz's plays proved difficult for the German audience there were three factors which had drawn attention to the Polish author: the Polish October of 1956, which in West Germany caused interest in contemporary Polish literature; the social revolt of 1968; and popularity of the Theatre of the Absurd. In the 70's and 80's Gombrowicz's dramas were interpreted primarily as posing the problem of personal identity, while the national background of the author became secondary and trivial. In the last decade of the 20th century Gombrowicz gained the position of a classic of modern literature. The history of staging Gombrowicz's plays in Sweden is presented by J. Ludawska in the context of the country's political, social, and cultural situation. The author interprets the first phase of interest in Gombrowicz, which took place in the 1960's, as a result of the collapse of the black-and-white political rhetoric characteristic for the 1950's, and the crisis of traditional individualism. Soon, however, the Swedish society became immersed in current political issues (Franco's dictatorship in Spain, the war in Vietnam, etc.), and the theatre artists were urged not only to present these issues on the stage but also to suggest concrete solutions to them. As these solutions tended to be oversimplified and radical, Gombrowicz came to be viewed as a reactionary and disappeared from Swedish theatres for a whole decade (1973-1983). In the 90's the interest in Gombrowicz has been rekindled by the publication of Diary (1953-1956) translated by Anders Bodegard. In turn, Sven Ake Heed takes a closer look at the history of staging 'Princess Yvonne', and 'The Marriage' in Dramaten, i.e. the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. Heed describes and analyses two productions directed by Alf Sjoberg in 1965 and 1966, and compares them with two productions from 1995: 'The Marriage' directed by Karl Duner, and 'Princess Yvonne' directed by Ingmar Bergman. The possible influence of Gombrowicz on Bergman's interpretation of Shakespeare is investigated by M.Samsel who concentrates on Bergman's production of Hamlet from 1986 and shows its similarities to Gombrowicz's works. Acke Oldenburg reminisces about his experience of working on the set and costumes to 'The Marriage' directed by Sjoberg. Oldenburg's testimony is followed by Gombrowicz's correspondence with Sjoberg, the Arlecchino Agency, and Norbert Zaba. Ewa Walczak-Andersen presents the response of critics to all productions of Gombrowicz's plays in Denmark, and Urszula Aszyk-Bangs discusses the presence of Gombrowicz in Spanish Theatre. Although the author of 'Ferdydurke' was known to Spanish readers since 1968, his plays were not staged until the 1980's, due to the cultural politics of Franco's regime. The only drama by Gombrowicz which have gained interest of the Spanish theatre artists is 'Princess Yvonne'. The reception of Gombrowicz's plays in the theatres of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro in 1970-2003 is discussed by J. Sobczak. To illustrate the way the Serbs and the Croats interpreted Gombrowicz as a political author, she describes the reaction of the Serbian and Croatian critics to 'The Marriage' directed by Jarocki in Novi Sad in 1981 and presented in 1982 in Zagreb. Based on press reviews, Alja Predan describes five productions of Gombrowicz's plays in Slovenia, Nina Kiraly describes and interprets the productions of Gombrowicz's plays in Hungarian theatres, and Vlasta Smolakova discusses the history of the Czech productions of Gombrowicz's plays in political context, paying much heed to the work of Petr Lebl. In an interview by Tatiana Drzycimska, Estonian director Elmo Nuganen talks about his experiences with staging 'The Marriage' in Torun, about the way he interprets the play, and about other Polish dramas. In the second interview Vladas Bagdonas, the Lithuanian actor who plays Henryk's Father in 'The Marriage' directed by Nuganen, explains the way he worked on his part, talks about the atmosphere of the rehearsals, and about his reflections on Gombrowicz's Diary.









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