Zum Theater des Widerhalls
Edited By Veronika Darian, Micha Braun, Jeanne Bindernagel and Miroslaw Kocur
(Polish) Theatre as a Rhizome of Echoes: The Case of Acropolis
Acropolis, the central fortress, national archive, and main sanctuary of ancient Athens, became in the 19th century an epitome of the Western civilization for Polish people deprived of their own country. At the beginning of 20th century, the Polish painter and playwright Stanisław Wyspiański identified in his famous drama Akropolis the Athenian Acropolis with the principal Polish sanctuary and national necropolis, the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
Dreaming of liberated Poland, Wyspiański placed the action of his drama inside the Royal Cathedral. During the night to Easter Sunday all the Homeric and biblical heroes portrayed on the tapestries, as well as many tomb monuments come to life and form a symbolic resurrection procession towards the main altar. In the poetical climax of the play, Apollo/Christ comes down in his chariot of fire and crushes the cathedral. Ancient echoes were to remind homelandless Poles that they still belong to the Western culture and that resurrection—also in the sense of a national rebirth—will not be given to them but must be achieved through hard work.
Seventeen years after the Second World War, in communist Poland, theatre director Jerzy Grotowski and painter Józef Szajna confronted the ancient echoes with contemporary ones in their radical re/de/construction of Wyspiański’s Akropolis. During the war, the concentration camp in Auschwitz became the new sanctuary and necropolis of the Western civilization. Actors of the Teatr 13 Rzędów (Theatre of 13 Rows, later the...
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