ISSN 2451-2966


DYBUK, directed by Anna Smolar, premiere: 4.12.2015, Hieronim Konieczka Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz. Photographer: Monika Stolarska.
Weronika Szczawińska

Theoretical Democracies, Practical Institutions


The paper deals with the issues related to the integration of theoretical and practical perspectives in Polish theatrical life and theatrical higher education. The inseparability of ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ has for a time been postulated in Polish theatre and education (especially at university level). The implementation of such an integrated research and creative path, however, encounters a number of specific problems pertaining to the shape of Polish theatre institutions. The paper focuses on the systemic barriers encountered by transdisciplinary work in the field of performative arts. The most important context here is the placement of integrated practice in the field of tensions related to the hierarchical nature of Polish institutions (and the resulting problems with democracy), as well as the capitalist myth of professional specialization. The trouble with transdisciplinarity in the Polish theatre life is diagnosed by pointing to the lack of systemic change and the failure of the few institutions that proposed non-binary, integrated modes of action. Another important theme in the paper is the indication of the particular identity impasse within the Polish theatre occurring due to conservative backlash.


democratization; hierarchy; professional specialization; theatre education; theatre institution; transdisciplinarity; stage practice

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Weronika Szczawińska

(1981), PhD, theatre director, dramaturge, cultural-studies scholar and performer. A graduate of the Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in the humanities programme at the University of Warsaw (2006), she studied directing at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. In 2008, made her debut at the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Olsztyn staging Elfriede Jelinek’s Jackie: Death and the Maiden. She has directed performances in Polish theatres including the National Stary Theatre in Kraków and the Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz. Szczawińska collaborates on a permanent basis with Agnieszka Jakimiak, Piotr Water Jr, Krzysztof Kaliski and Agata Maszkiewicz. Her most recent work is Hitchcock, created in the Slovenskomladinsko gledališče in Ljubljana (2017).