The 25th edition of the Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk will take place from 30 July to 8 August 2021. We will see performances from: Portugal, Italy, Lithuania, Belgium and from Poland. The organisers of the Shakespeare Festival are the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and the Theatrum Gedanense Foundation. This edition is particularly special, not only because of the quarter-centenary of this prestigious event. It is the first time that the Festival will be held without its founder and artistic director, Professor Jerzy Limon, who passed away in March 2021. The programme of this year’s edition, however, is his creation.
The first own production by the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre will open the Festival – “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare, directed by Szymon Kaczmarek. The premiere of the play will take place on 8 July 2021. An important highlight of the 25th edition of the Festival will also be a work by one of Lithuania’s leading theatre makers, Oskaras Koršunovas, winner of the most important European theatre awards. His “Othello”, performed by actors of OKT Theatre from Vilnius, is already the seventh realization of Shakespeare’s works in the director’s career. Many of his productions: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Romeo and Juliet”. “Miranda” (based on “The Tempest”) were presented at the Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk, gaining recognition as the best performances – both from the audience and critics. As Oskaras Koršunovas says, theatre is an instrument that helps us to get to know ourselves and the society we live in better. He often reaches for Shakespeare’s dramaturgy, as he is one of the playwrights whose works reflect the patterns of the contemporary world.
Another highlight of this year’s festival will certainly be “Antony and Cleopatra”, the performance of Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues, realised with the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II. It is a poetic and complex adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, inspired partly by Plutarch’s text about Mark Antony in “Parallel Lives”, partly by Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s film “Cleopatra” (1963). Tiago Rodrigues presents his own vision of the myth.
Lovers of world-class theatre will also be pleased by the latest production by the famous Belgian group Needcompany: “Billy’s Violence”. It was created by the Flemish director and visual artist Jan Lauwers. The performance is inspired by 13 tragedies of Shakespeare and will come to Poland right after the premiere in Barcelona. It asks questions about what violence in art means in the contemporary world and why we enjoy watching it so much. Is it perceived today differently than at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries?
The 25th edition of the Festival will also feature the world premiere of the latest performance by the Italian group ImPerfect Dancers, whose expressive, beautiful dance performances have met with great acclaim from the Gdańsk audience during recent editions of the festival. After the previously realised performances: “Lady Macbeth” and “Hamlet”, the trilogy will be completed by the most famous love story in the world: “Romeo and Juliet”.
In the photo: the performance “Antonio and Cleopatra”, Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, photo by Magda Bizarro
ShakespeareOFF alternative strand of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival consists of two competitions: ShakespeareOFF Productions (three laureates are presented in the festival programme) and ShakespeareOFF Presentations (performances qualified for the finals are presented and the best is seleced by the Jury during the festival).
The prize in the ShakespeareOFF Productions Competition is financial support for the production of an artistic event based on the works of William Shakespeare. The premiere of the event will take place during the 25th Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk. The funding equals PLN 10,000 for each winner of the competition.
The ShakespeareOFF Presentations competition involves completed artistic events, the authors of which, qualified for the finals, will present themselves to the public during the Festival and compete for financial prizes. The overall prize money equals PLN 15,000. In the ShakespeareOFF Presentations Competition, the winners will be selected by a Jury consisting of three members: Anda Rottenberg, Piotr Cieplak and Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk.
Results 22 projects were submitted to the ShakespeareOFF Productions Competition and 19 events were submitted to the ShakespeareOFF Presentations Competition. The Selection Committee, consisting of Acting Director of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre Maciej Sowiński, ShakespeareOFF 2021 Curator Katarzyna Knychalska and Festival Coordinator Joanna Śnieżko-Misterek, decided to select 3 winners of the ShakespeareOFF Productions 2021 Competitiont and 10 artistic events for the finals of ShakespeareOFF Presentations 2021 Competition.
Winners of the ShakespeareOFF Productions 2021 Competition:
– “Mist” – h.art company/ Artur Grabarczyk
– “Reciprocation” – Zakład Krawiecki Theatre/ Paweł Palcat
– “Shakespeare: mockup” – girl collective “blisko”/Mira Manka, Anna Rogóż
Finalists of the ShakespeareOFF Presentations 2021 Competition:
“The actors have arrived” – Wiesław Cichy, Marek Kocot
“And now the owls let us add the wings …” – Jakub Snochowski
„I Come to You River: Ophelia Fractured” – Studio Kokyu
„Island of Whispers” – Parrabbola&Teatr Strefa Otwarta
“Name” – Middle East Artists’ Association
“About The Two – puppets show” – Barnaby Theatre/ Marcin Marzec
“Portions” – Zdenka Pszczołowska, Anna Oramus
“The lost years” – Ewa Mikuła
“Shakespearean Women” – Shakespeare Gang/ Magdalena Dąbrowska and ensemble
“Shakespeare – r e i n k a r n a t i o n s” – Teatr Układ Formalny/ Adam Michał Pietrzak
Both competitions are organised by the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and Theatrum Gedanense Foundation at the 25th edition of the Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk. The artistic events selected for the competition will be presented in the programme of this year’s ShakespeareOFF.
“Jerzy Limon/Prospero” – a discussion on 23 April, at 7 pm CET, initiating a series of debates
entitled: “The Helplessness of a Philosopher”.
On the Day of 457th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s Birth, 23 April 2021, the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre invites you to a new series of events, of philosophical reflection on theatre and Shakespeare, related to the 25th Anniversary of the Gdansk Shakespeare Festival. The first discussion, entitled “Jerzy Limon/Prospero” is dedicated to the memory of Professor Jerzy Limon, Shakespeare scholar, writer, translator and Director of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre, who passed away last month.
We feel helpless in the face of this sudden and premature loss, surrounded as we are by a pandemic, political unrest, internal conflicts, environmental degradation, social inequality, disregard for art and critical thought, by spreading ignorance… This may be the reason why Professor Limon’s dream was to have a debate at the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre on the helplessness of ‘the Philosopher’ who was for him someone thoughtful, considerate and sensitive, someone trying to grasp the complexity of the world.
We need to focus on the legacy of Professor Limon, on the challenges and tasks he left us to deal with; we need to examine his attitude to contemporary culture, the problems he grappled with, the helplessness he felt.
The discussion will take place on 23 April, at 19.00. The panellists will meet live onstage of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre; the meeting will be transmitted on YouTube and the Facebook page of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre. The participants are: Łukasz Drewniak – theatre critic, dr hab. Stanisław Rosiek – literary historian, writer, publisher, and Anna Augustynowicz – theatre director. The meeting will be led by Piotr Augustyniak whose idea this debate was. The accompanying artistic programme is directed by Robert Florczak.
The event will be transmitted in Polish, on the YouTube and Facebook profiles of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre.
Jerzy Limon: Scholar and Man of Theatre, in the Memories of Friends
International online meeting on 24 April
1.30 pm CET / 12.30 pm BST / 7.30 am EDT
This event is part of William Shakespeare’s 457th Birthday Celebrations at the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and “Jerzy Limon/Prospero” discussion dedicated to the life of Professor Jerzy Limon who passed away in March 2021. The discussion initiates a series of debates entitled: “The Helplessness of a Philosopher”. Professor Jerzy Limon was the creator and Director of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre, author, translator, literary and theatre scholar of international repute.
At two consecutive round tables, friends and colleagues of Professor Limon will share memories and discuss the importance of his work as a man of theatre and Renaissance scholar.
Programme: 24th April 2021
The event will be introduced by Boika Sokolova and Janice Valls-Russell.
1.30 – 2.45 pm CET Jerzy Limon—Man of Theatre
Chair: Nicoleta Cinpoes
Participants: Alicja Bral, Grzegorz Bral, Javor Gardev, Philip Parr, Luk Perceval, Joanna Śnieżko-Misterek
2.45 – 3.00 pm CET Break
3.00 – 4.45 pm CET Jerzy Limon—The Scholar
Chair: Marta Gibińska
Participants: Michael Dobson, Pavel Drabek, Jay Halio , Peter Holland, Marta Nowicka, Manfred Pfister, George Szonyi, Tomasz Wiśniewski
The discussion will be transmitted on the YouTube and Facebook profiles of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre, and available in English only.
Organiser: Gdański Teatr Szekspirowski
Nicoleta Cinpoeş – Worcester University, UK
Marta Gibinska – Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Boika Sokolova – The University of Notre Dame (USA) in England
Janice Valls-Russell – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Paul Valéry University of Montpellier (UPVM), France
Tomasz Wiśniewski – University of Gdansk, Poland
It is with profound sadness and an enormous sense of loss
that we inform about the passing away on 3 March 2021 of Professor Jerzy Limon,
Creator and Director of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre.
No words can express the emptiness we feel in our hearts.
Time has stood still. We would so like it to go back to all the moments we spent with Professor Limon. The best Mentor, an uncommon Visionary, a demanding Director, a true Friend.
We remain faithful to his work and we are working diligently – just as he would wish.
Professor Jerzy Limon believed in miracles, especially for his theatre. He also believed in the Muses and the higher powers which support us. We are left with the belief that, where he has gone, he will be surrounded by a host of magnificent artists.
You may extend your sympathy in our Online CONDOLENCE BOOK The Condolences Book will also be available in the entrance hall of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre every day from 12.30 to 18.00. We ask you to observe the current sanitary regulations.
Professor Jerzy Limon attended the General Grammar School No. 1 in Sopot and he graduated from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, where he studied English Philology and History. Between 1975 and 1980, he lectured in History in the Institute of English Philology at the university in Poznan and, in 1979, he completed his Ph.D. In 1980, he joined the Institute of English Studies at the University of Gdansk. In 1985, he completed his Habilitation and, in 1993, he became a Titular Professor. Between 1983 and 1993, he was Deputy Director of the Institute of English Studies (currently the Institute of English and American Studies) at the University of Gdansk and he headed the Department of the History of English Literature and Culture. He founded and headed the Department of Scenic Arts at the University of Gdansk and then became Full Professor in the Department of Research into Scenic Arts. He was a Humanities Professor in the Philology Faculty at the University of Gdansk. He lectured in Polish and English.
He was a member of the Association of Polish Writers and the Association of Stage Artists and Composers, an active member of the Polish Academy of Skills and a corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. He delivered guest lectures at, among others, Hunter College, the University of Delaware, the University of Colorado, the University of Aberdeen, Kingston University and the Shakespeare Institute in Washington.
Founder and chairman (1989-2014) of the Theatrum Gedanense Foundation, setting himself the aim of reconstructing the Elizabethan theatre in Gdansk and co-oganising the Shakespeare Festival. The initiator and director (2008-2021) of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre (opened in September 2014) and the founder and artistic director of the International Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk, which, in 2017, was honoured with the European Union EFFE Award. The originator and co-founder of the European Network of Shakespeare Festivals, with its seat in Gdansk. Member of the International Shakespeare Society, the Polish Shakespeare Society, the Polish Theatre Historians’ Society, the Association of Stage Artists and Composers, the Association of Polish Writers and the Poznan Society of Friends of the Arts and Sciences. Founder member of the Sfinks Forum for the Integration of Science, Culture and Art in Sopot.
The author of numerous academic books, published in Poland and abroad, and some 150 articles, reviews, essays and popular academic essays, published in Poland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the USA. The author of 120 entries in the PWN Great Universal Encyclopaedia. His output also inludes 4 novels, and translations of old plays (Shakespeare) and contemporary ones (Stoppard). In recent years, he published the books “Młot na poetów albo Kronika ściętych głów” [“The hammer of poets or A chronicle of severed heads”] (2014) and “Szekspir bez cenzury. Erotyczny żart na scenie elżbietańskiej” [“Shakespeare without censorship. The erotic joke on the Elizabethan stage”] (2018), published by the Gdańsk publisher Słowo/obraz/terytoria.
Jerzy Limon won many awards in Poland and abroad. In 2006, he was awarded the Gloria Artis Silver Medal for his services to culture and the President of Gdansk’s Prize for Culture. In the same year, he also received the Jan Hevelius Scientific Award from the City of Gdansk. In 2011, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Polonia Restituta Order and, in 2014, for his services to Polish-British cultural cooperation, he became an Officer of the Order of the British Member. He received his O.B.E. from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 2015, he became a laureate of the Jerzmanowscy Prize awarded by the Polish Academy of Skills. The award was presented at Wawel Castle. In the same year, he also received the Saint Adalbert Medal. In 2016, he was honoured with the title Person of the Year by the editors of the Baltic Daily. On 27 April 2019, in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, Professor Jerzy Limon received the international Pragnell Shakespeare Award for outstanding achievements in the popularisation and development of knowledge on the subject of the works of William Shakespeare.
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, Act IV, Scene I