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Warlikowski: Extra Ecclesiam

Translated by Soren Gauger


Grzegorz Niziolek

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s work stands among the most remarkable phenomena in post-1989 European theater. This book joins Warlikowski’s theater with the dynamic changes in Polish society following 1989, using strategies borrowed from psychoanalysis, theater anthropology, performance studies, and cultural poetics. This book is not only about an artist of the theater, but above all about the theater production as an object of the audience’s desire, an object evoking fascination, revulsion, aversion, and opposition. This is why the performances are analyzed as a series of flash-points, constellations with powerful affective impacts. It focuses on fragments of social rituals, material objects with major potential to spark audience emotions, and gestures of violence. The piecemeal narrative serves to cull out aspects of Warlikowski’s performances that could be read as symptoms of social drama.
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The Theater of Neurotics


February 9, 2001 saw the premiere of Euripides’s Bacchae at the Rozmaitości Theater in Warsaw, a year after The Tempest in Stuttgart (Staatstheater, 2000). In December 2001 Warlikowski was finishing work on Sarah Kane’s Cleansed, and on January 4, 2003 a new version of The Tempest premiered at the Rozmaitości Theater. These premieres were therefore spread about a year apart. The rhythm of Warlikowski’s work had unequivocally changed. In 1997–1998 Warlikowski directed nine performances, traveling between Warsaw, Radom, Poznań, Tel Aviv, Zagreb, and Milan. He produced two plays from Antiquity (Electra and The Phoenician Women), four takes on Shakespeare (A Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Pericles), two versions of Koltès’s Quay West (Gradsko dramsko kazalište Gavella in Zagreb and Studio Theater in Warsaw, 1998), and one of Gombrowicz’s Lawyer Kraykowski’s Dancer.

Between Bacchae, Cleansed, and the second Tempest he only created three performances: two chamber operas and an adaptation of In Search of Lost Time, directed over the course of nine weeks in Bonn (Schauspiel, 2002). Warlikowski was working less haphazardly and almost exclusively in Poland, in Warsaw, searching for a place to call his own, choosing his texts carefully. He was staging dramas that had long been on his mind, dramas to which he had matured and which demanded courage and great skill. It was then that a strong group of actors began to form around him at the Rozmaitości Theater. At the same time,...

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