Dec 1, 2015


National Audiovisual Institute


Admet [sarcastically]: “Any of you would rather die? You? You maybe? You wouldn’t? That makes two of us, it’s easier. The rest, they love someone else’s life more than their own. We love our own lives.”

“(A)pollonia”, a story of crime, self-sacrifice and unredeemed guilt, is among the most important plays in 21st century Polish theater. The piece premiered May 16, 2009 at Warsaw’s Koneser Cultural Center, located in a former vodka distillery in the Praga neighborhood. This was the first production by Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Nowy Theater. In July of 2009, “(A)pollonia” was performed at the Avignon Festival.

Warlikowski tells the tale of three women: Iphigenia, sacrificed for her homeland by her father, Agamemnon; Alcestis, who gives her life for her husband, Admet; and Apollonia Machczyńska, who chooses to shelter Jews and is subsequently killed in the war, orphaning her children. The characters’ heroism turns out to be ambiguous, and their moral choices are questioned.

The director poses troubling questions about the profound meaning of sacrifice and about our right to decide about the lives of others as well as our own, since our personal decisions sometimes have a significant effect on the destinies of other people. Warlikowski also questions the process behind the sanctification of victims, and challenges the unambiguous moral judgments leveled against war criminals.

Agamemnon: “You can never say: I shall never kill. The most you can say is: I hope I shall never kill.”

Krzysztof Warlikowski (born 1962) studied philosophy, history and French at the Jagiellonian University, as well as the history of ancient theater at the Sorbonne in Paris. He graduated from the Ludwik Solski State Drama School in Kraków with a degree in directing. Warlikowski has spent his entire career both in Poland and abroad, where worked as an assistant for Peter Brook and took part in workshops led by Ingmar Bergman and Giorgio Strehler. He has worked with theaters in Germany, France, Israel and the Netherlands.

Ever since the premiere of “Roberto Zucco” by Bernard-Marie Koltès, Warlikowski’s plays have provoked emotional reactions due to his choice of topics (sexual identity, liminal and transgressive situations) and theatrical forms. The director’s earliest productions include Sarah Kane’s “Cleansed” (2001), Hanoch Levin’s “Krum” (2005) and Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” (2007). His recent plays – “(A)pollonia” (2009), “The End” (2010), “African Tales by Shakespeare” (2011) and “Warsaw Cabaret” (2013) employ the technique of textual collage. Warlikowski has been the head of the Nowy Theater in Warsaw since 2008.

“Warlikowski has put together a powerful and at times irreverent play about the inevitable ambiguity of all definitions: crime, justice, guilt. (…) »(A)pollonia« resurrects shouting, emotions, music and metaphor, which are capable of more than feeble words.”
(Joanna Derkaczew, “Gazeta Wyborcza”)

“(…) Warlikowski’s theater demands not so much an audience as it does participants. (…) The shared space envisioned in »(A)pollonia« is unprecedentedly vast and dense. It strives to embrace an entire universe splayed upon the intersection of two perspectives — history and myth, privacy and superindividual destiny — that cannot be reconciled.”
(Marcin Kościelniak, “Tygodnik Powszechny”)

“The television broadcast gives us an opportunity to look at » (A)pollonia« in a different manner and to appreciate that which was difficult to perceive at the premiere. One difference is particularly striking: we can finally appreciate the power of cinematic close-ups. We can focus on the faces of the excellent actors and concentrate on their words without having to take in the enormity of the panorama of the stage.”
(Jacek Wakar, Polish Radio)

In 2014 the NInA and Polish Television produced a video recording of the play. The premiere broadcast was viewed by 114 thousand people.

Credits: Story

Written and edited by: Paweł Pokora
Media editor: Zuzanna Ciesielska
Photo by:
3 - TVP/Ireneusz Sobieszczuk
7 - PAP/Korotayev Artyom

Credits: All media
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