ISSN 2451-2966


Mateusz Borowski

Theatre Takes a Stand: Polish Participatory Theatre at the Turn of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries


According to Borowski, the last decade in Polish theatre has been a time in which conventions previously tested in fringe theatre or in the increasingly popular medium of performance have been implemented in diverse ways. The aim has remained the same: to effectively challenge audiences to take active part in a theatrical event and to persuade them to openly express their reactions, or at least to allow themselves to become an integral part of the performance. Borowski analyses the attempts made by Polish theatre to activate spectators and to encourage them to collaborate and co-create theatrical events. He examines the problem against the wide background of the changes in Polish theatre in the last two decades. The buzzword ‘participation’ has become an important part of artists’ and cultural institutions’ action strategies, put into practice in various ways. The author analyses Monika Strzępka and Paweł Demirski’s play/social action Rainbow Stand 2012 in detail, pointing to the difficulties that participatory projects face in institutional theatres.


participation; performance; participatory democracy; interventionist theatre

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Mateusz Borowski

assistant professor at the Department of Performance of the Jagiellonian Universiry, where he studied English philology. Completed his doctorate with the dissertation 'In Search for the Real. New developments of the European Playwriting of the 1990s’ at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz – its Polish version was published as W poszukiwaniu realności (2005). His main research interests are cultural memory, science–art relations and queer theory. Also a translator of literary and academic texts. With Małgorzata Sugiera, he has translated the texts of such figures as Heiner Müller, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Schwab, Bertolt Brecht, Dea Loher and Roland Schimmelpfennig for the theatre, and academic works including Erika Fischer-Lichte’s The Aesthetics of the Performative and Theatre and Theatricality, Freddie Rokem’s Performing History, and Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim. In 2007 he was a recipient of a Foundation for Polish Science scholarship. Co-editor of the monograph Fictional Realities/Real Fictions (Cambridge, 2007) and the anthology of 20th-century Polish theatrical ideas Theater spielen und denken (Suhrkamp, 2008). Published the books W pułapce przeciwieństw (with Małgorzata Sugiera, 2012) and Strategie zapomiania (2015).