Wyspiański - Malczewski - Konieczny
The Wedding — Director’s note
Motto: Zeus and God in heaven reside,
at home together, side by side.
The Wedding - by Stanisław Wyspiański (1869 -1907)
It is not Beckett (1906 -1987).
Nor is it Ibsen (1828 -1906) (Beckett evolved from Ibsen-so say the academics).
Modest it is not...
Messy it is.
Rhymes, rhythms, nursery rhymes, flocks of people, talking noises, phantoms, visions...
In such times as ours?
Flowery. Ornate. Constant interruptions.
To bad that Wyspiański did not take after Ibsen, whom he adored, just like Beckett had later - if he had, maybe The Wedding would tour the world.
Infecting the words with painter’s thoughts?
Borowy wrote: Wyspiański only brought out the most essential traits, but in these traits there is a masterly precision of design and an impeccable sense of construction.
I compare sketches by Wyspiański (who was captivated by Japanese art) with sketches by Hokusai (1760 -1849), from whom once again I cannot escape. Now in the British Museum.
And I cannot free myself from a heart-rending thought, that there is a world of difference between the Japanese and the Polish canon in the way in which masterly precision is understood.
And once more Temptations, like Erinyes, torment me to edit The Wedding, to choose essential traits, to turn these into haiku poems, to be performed in the Japanese way, with an impeccable sense of construction.
Thus - to make it better and to offer it to the world as an example of the mastery of discipline, of thought and construction.
The text of The Wedding is not to be performed today in its entirety.
It cannot be staged. It would not be right.
Because it would do harm to the Poet.
And, indeed, a Poet is what Wyspiański was - a Poet, same as the Greek tragedians, that were known as Poets - rather than as playwrights.
A Poet is entitled to the language of metaphors, apothegms, symbols, references, analogies, rhythm and... (unfortunately)
rhymes It’s curious
that what we understand by prose,
once recast in sound and rhyme,
can waft its content
- mist sublime - throughout the whole of literature.
A Poet overpowers the language.
However, he doesn’t intend to confuse us, his aim is to strike precisely.
Do you suppose corpses you can resurrect, - dust them down and newly decked - lead them under your command to some Last Supper in the land
The strikes are - truly - well-aimed, they hit the mark (if one were to unveil them form the words’ megaphone).
But do the wounds hurt? Is the pain felt as it is felt by, say the English, who (along with the rest of human kind), feel Shakespeare’s pain when he lifts the veil off human nature and teaches humility before history?
All the rest is just craft - massatabulettae: words, words, words. In the manner of those times. But today? ? Of what use is it-to prattle, waffle and chatter from the stage?
For the sake of theatrical gameplay, for stage mastery?
For that—yes, truly. Just more.
But even then it’s only a form: theatrical architecture and urge, lightness, musicality, dynamics... noise, rumble, twisting, uproar, twirl, colourful cloth, peacock’s feathers, fancy dresses... circus - vaudeville.
Wyspiański tore a dirty cloth off the heart of generation’s soul and showed a rotting corpse. Wyspiański confirmed, that we are a nation of parrots, peacocks, “journalists”, perverts, madmen, daredevils, fools and comedians (...). After, I had moments of very strong hate for Wyspiański for this darkened, half-said, but definitive mockery and trample of this poor age we all are rotting in - Adolf Neuwert-Nowaczyński, 1901.
I am reading this and other notes from 1901 and I cannot believe my eyes. Is this just the phraseological pose of those times? Or is The Wedding really just a cheap pamphlet for a pit, in Gogol’s way (1809 -1852), only spilt, with the parade of characters and phantoms portrayed in a way that doesn’t attract or concern anyone today.
No form, platitudes and... compulsive tittering.
The sense is lost.
Meanwhile this history of ours has invested The Wedding with great authority.
To pay tribute to the history and to the importance of the Poet’s genre one has to bang one’s head against the wall to extract the essence of the piece’s seriousness.
Here we have farce, pamphlet, satire, cabaret - nativity play and lajkonik’s singspiel.
And the rhymes— „high and goofy”; and the jumble of theatrical wonders...
Gibberish and jabber... Emphasis and pathos, teaching, nagging, enchanting, preaching.
But where is the sense?
It is still lost.
Conjuring the words. Some madness...
Yes, it is madness. It is a work about madness, although, even better - it is about the mad (how many meanings that word has!).
The Wedding staged to show madness! No drunk dementia, no delirium!
The Wedding as a study of madness, mania, a study of delusional disorder! What a subject! Arch-Polish theme, but crossing over beyond both Poland and the Pole... A global matter!
I was thinking about this option. I could not take it. Neither I, nor the actors. Too much pain, too many thorns and suffering.
And the truth... too much truth.
We wouldn’t manage, we would break like chestnuts on the fiery corner.
The world is standing on the mad. Today it overlaps any boundaries of the risk.
Is that not enough?
The purpose of theatre must be to generate Hope.
So where is the sense? The sense is still lost.
Does the Poet take pride in being lost?
He does not - ashamed, that pun is hidden Look - a head has given way to drink.
A Polish move.
One talks nonsense, willy-nilly.
You met the devil on the scout - Polish hiccup...
It won’t be done, it will not flow I met the Devil in a carriage, forests, a town with walls I spied:
But... this breast, this heart, Poland Holds one right.
That’sjustapleat in bodice - sewn too tight.
And laughing one cannot do light.
Stick in hand would like to take...
Meanings are hidden, sunk, twisted... And it’s hard to fish them out. The depth in which a Poet drowned them is not yet deep nor transparent. Puddle-ish-like...
For the meanings to have meaning, one needs to separate them from the characters and protect the gentleness of pure poetry.
So the Poetry may be a Goddess. Divide those Johnnies, Headmen, girlies, Hostesses, peasants, Isias... (save the Headman!).
And sing it. Like Homer’s Aoidos(yes-Ah, one would need great Homer’s lyre!). compiled as monologues...
From the monologues in turn we washed out the mumble which only buzzes and does not ring. Choose only, what in Euripides is called gnom? - Apothegm. Around each monologue we have built pictures and scenic actions. In the spirit of Wyspiański,
though not necessarily (rather not!) reflecting his seeing.
Was the Poet Euripides-like, in his deepest urges, dreams and ambition, or was he not?
We inserted our passionate and galloping imagination into the imagination of
Malczewski and “He was!’’The chorus responds. Konieczny.
Was the Poet in the lost, primal ages or was he not?
“He was”, the choir responds again.
And, much like Euripides had his Aristophanes, Wyspiański had his count St. Tarnowski. Proportion-wise.
I want to create what is not, and what expect from anyone I have no data to do. I want to make Polish opera, which was barely induced by Moniuszko. I want to run it in conjured by myself music wholeness and details. All that which is in power of today’s opera, mediocre both in instrumentation and in singing I do not want and I solemnly do not wish for - the Poet spoke.
Hold on, Wyspiański, sir! Dialogodellamusicaantica e dellamoderna(1581) by Vincenzo Galilei - you couldn’t not know as from a young age music theories and systems were so interesting to you (Let’s just add, that Wyspiański was an organization extraordinarily sensitive to the music - Boy-Żeleński).
If one is, like you, so much into Antiquity, then one should indulge himself in the spirit and thought of Florentine Camerata, so the music is to be commanded to play like it could gain the Hell itself.
Otherwise - it has failed, Stanisław, sir, as it did in 1916 with Rostworowski’s opera of your Wedding.
(Praised be the Lord you weren’t there to see it).
At least Act One is Dionysian with a spirit of the ancient Dionysia and this is obvious.
Resume and Adieu; to run The Wedding over in the manner of Tarnowski - is easy; to measure the play for current political needs - as Wyka and Puzyna once wanted- is cheap; to perform The Wedding in cabaret-like actions- is theatrical self-play; with exaggerated pathos, educational seriousness, patriotic tunes, a museum-like performance of The Wedding(would be more appropriate to have Pilsudski's monument instead of Dionysos on the proscenium) — what a bore! theatrical dry goods, history and folklore-ish tourism, historical and social anachronisms.
Ubu king d rebours, took place in a Poland which was not, is not and which never will be. Meaning it took place nowhere.
A foreigner would not understand a thing.
Does this matter? Yes, it matters a lot!
To gain a certificate of universality by claiming something as ‘ours’ guarantees a place in worldwide culture.
“Ours”, on the other hand, becoming increasingly “our” is the way to cultural degeneration. One cannot not aspire nor should one ever relinquish the effort to be present in the worldwide culture. But no mocking, ladies and gents, and no compulsive laughs!
I cannot fight against this thought, that The Wedding would be universal (manifesting the global spirit- as Horzyca wanted), if its action were set by the Poet during a night in June, not in November (nota bene - The ancient rule of cohesion of time - place - action- is a great bonus and oughtto be used in a play). Then he would reach up higher than a “crow’s tone”.
Oh, the magic realism and mating rituals of Midsummer Night’s Dr earn'. Wild realism!
Is Wyspiahski’s genius ground-breaking or just itchy?
This realistic and magical, theatrical imagination and ability to use theatrical instruments in a spectacular way, are enchantments and a spider’s web of words that shake us to the core or cafe’s-like rhyme-play- with courtship no less.
It is also possible to work out a profile of The Wedding as a piece about fears, about anxiety (but with an evident dose of Aristotle’s pity).
Ah! It would be uncommonly interesting and universal, human to human and not only Pole to Pole.
But I am not dealing with that, for me it is neither cold nor hot. I am interested in:
- generating energy and hope
- foretelling the future/ mantic perspectives (the “prophet’s tone”).
For that is what a human needs in order to live, to know, to want, to strive for.
What have I done to The Wedding(what operations on The Wedding have I performed)?
- Konieczny’s music has been broken into pieces and put together differently, re-arranged here and there; this was demanded of me by Poetry, Thespis and the dramaturgy of the performance. It did hurt. As if I had been holding a beautiful ancient vase and then thrown it on the floor and, with my throat dry, put the pieces of the broken clay together all anew. Master Zygmunt is a tradition. I flew with it, somewhat with my tradition-approaching maxim in mind: identify and transform (“Hidden Territories: The Theatre of Gardzienice”, Routledge 2003).
-1 included the youth’s Prologue (it is a theatrical group, which came uninvited - God himself my guests will envy!)and the Afterparty.
- Actors took a few roles each, and female actors even took some male parts (O, temporal).
- The order of some of the scenes has been changed, what comes to hand with the rules of magic realism. One can just sit with the work and play re-ordering scenes and would notice, that the construct is holding up...
From the matters crucial to The Wedding, so-called ‘vital to the nation’, three remain:
- Polish matter (on the motifs: ...every year of every generation / time and again, a soul’s revealed / greatness, once again, unsealed / then re-buried deep, in desperation... It’s like a curse upon us all / that holds us in a nightmare thrall)
- Ukrainian matter (on the motifs: Yes, I seem to hear those bells... A solemn, tortured groan that swells)
- Jewish matter (on the motifs: It’sjust that we’re the kind of friends who don’t much care for one another)
It is worth paying a lot, even to offer more than one sacrifice in order to make the three worlds re-join and reunite. But they will neither re-join, nor reunite, unfortunately.
Wyspiański uses symbol and allusion. Regarding his own times. One cannot not find in The Wedding staged today allusions to our times.
I don’t like it. Theatre I create uses common mythology and archetypes. Codes.
Compulsions and phantoms, at their fullest in today’s reality can be a fuel to orchestrate a stage work.
Those compulsions made their way towards our rehearsals with a desperation worth a better cause.
Some of them stayed.
Like phantoms from Wyspiański.
To summarize, for the next few years let Gardzienice be the preacher and the advertiser of The Wedding all around the world.
It is pitiful to see, how little there is of this work in the world culture.
I see it like this: everywhere, where The Wedding will be taken to, be it Africa or Asia, Europe (the another one) or America - we will marry it and pair it up with both mating and wedding rituals of the country.
Mating and wedding are of the few surviving rituals in living traditions, and they use incomparably rich means of theatrical expression.
Within such traditions are also living theatrical sessions of evoking ghosts and phantoms from the past. The magic realism is palpably alive.
To Rena Targońska, astounding scenographer, that Lady with no flaws, who passed away last year, we pay our tribute and, in honour of her memory, we offer the crown from Midsummer Night’s Dream, which she made for the Osterwa Theatre in Lublin. In her workspace, in the attic of her town house at 10a Niecała St. (former Sławiński St.), we had for many years our Lublin place corner,hideout, office, sanctuary...
“Are you for Wyspiański or against?” - thus began ZbigniewRaszewski his interview with Bohdan Korzeniowski. If asked today, I would answer: I am for him. I am for the synthesis of beauty, truth and goodness.