“The Madman and the Nun” (1963)

Aleksander Wasilewicz1963

Theatre Institute in Warsaw

Theatre Institute in Warsaw
Warszaw, Poland

Jan Güntner, an actor performing the role of the poet Walpurg in “The Madman and the Nun”, described the situation on stage: “The relation between actors, who moved on the tiny piece of platform around chairs, and the machine was like this: if any of the actors spoke louder than whisper, the chairs began to move, as though in protest. So we had to play quietly to make sure ‘they’ whom the chairs represented could not hear us – ‘to keep things secret’. As we performed, we were no more than disappearing existence, no more than ‘peristalsis’. Every sudden movement provoked terrible clatter. We had to secretly observe the machine and the other actors. Any contact between the performers seemed suspicious to the world, to ‘them’. Even if we attempted to take a deep breath, the machine would switch on and we had to wait. (…) To avoid being deafened by the machine, all the actors made their best to play quietly and simultaneously – to be able to deliver their lines. But then the machine would turn on and became so overwhelming that all we could do was to try to outshout it or stop and wait till it was over. The performance was full of pauses and ‘holes’. That exactly was the ‘zero’” (Jan Güntner in an unpublished interview with Jan Raczkowski, 2012).In the photograph –Burdygiel (psychiatrist): Stanisław Rychlicki, Sister Anna (nun): Hanna Szymańska.


  • Title: “The Madman and the Nun” (1963)
  • Creator: Aleksander Wasilewicz
  • Date: 1963
  • Location: Galeria Krzysztofory, Kraków

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