Legnica is a town characterized by cracks. Out of those cracks our theatre builds its tale of the town. For most of its history, Legnica had been a German town - but in 1945 it was taken over by the Soviet Red Army. Legnica was turned into the Army`s stronghold, a garrison town and a seat of the Soviet General Staff for the Eastern Europe. It was here, at the local airport, that the Soviet bombers were meant to have a refueling stop on their way to Paris in the case of the outbreak of World War III... As a result of 1945’s Yalta conference Legnica was given to Poland. In co-operation as well as in conflict with the Russians, the Poles began to build the identity of the town - an identity full of cracks and one never too easy to bear.
I want to speak with you about the theatre whose stage is the city - in the sense that the theatre takes over various spaces within the city - be it an old factory hall, a ruined cinema, a run-down theatre, industrial warehouses, a former market hall. The theatre locates the venues, arranges their interiors, and adapts them for the purpose of regular performing.
The pact between the theatre and the audience is based not only on the authenticity of situations presented on stage. Other kind of authenticity plays an important part in achieving the mutual understanding: our company consists of a team of actors who are not afraid of blood, sweat, and unsanitary conditions in which they sometimes perform. This realism defines, so to speak, our handwriting.
For us, the most important determinants are beauty of a venue and its natural setting. If it rains in there, it rains for real. And there is no faking in our style of acting- a performer, falling, hits a real concrete floor and rolls in dust. Different venues require different approach to acting art, to stage motion and delivery. Although we sometimes lose in our wrestling with a new theatrical space, much more often we win, just because we have learned humility towards the spaces. We do not conquer them - instead we restore them to local communities, we get the communities to get used to them. We managed to do it in Legnica, and in other places all over Poland. And because of our projects the local authorities sometimes show mercy to a ruin and save its life. It seems important that the theatre exceeds its traditional limits in an attempt to influence the social reality. Doubtless this is still a new field of action for theatre, a field not visited as yet - namely, theatre changing reality.
The odyssey of our theatre has been lasting for 15 years – starting in small country churches, where the local folk helped the actor playing Jesus in a passion play, starting there to reach gigantic industrial halls. This odyssey cannot be counted among the easy ones- each place en route constitutes another world, another reality. The odyssey, the one of society through a reality, is very beautiful, even though difficult. I believe that it gives us and our audiences what is supposedly most important in life: faith and hope for the better world.
The Story-Telling Theatre was our three-year artistic project (2012-2014). It began in January 2012 from the publication of Counterrevolutionary Manifesto which formulated the main postulates of the project. Starting with the premise that the Polish theater is dominated by fashion, and therefore it became homogeneous and deprived the public of alternative, the creators of the manifesto (the director of Modjeska Theatre Jacek Głomb and his longtime collaborators - Katarzyna Knychalska, Krzysztof Kopka and Robert Urbański) announced that the activity of Legnica stage will be based on the following principles:
1. Offering performances based on universal tales which are close to each spectator because derived from a common cultural heritage.
2. Caring of using emotions and comprehensible to the public - which does not mean primitive – theatre language
3. Making an attempt to analysethe situation of a man in the modern world by means of the theatrical ambiguity, not media clichés
4. The emphasis on the solidity of theater craft
Manifesto reverberated causing beneficial discussion on the situation of the theatre art in the contemporary culture, the boundaries of theater and its diversity.
Prominent Polish theater artists accepted the invitation to prepare the performance within the project.