Between Heaven and the Stage: Past the Tempest?
The Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre returns with a festival for everyone. “Between Heaven and the Stage” will be a negotiation between the texts of the great Bard, the individual visions of the director, and the subjective perception of each spectator. We invite new plays created in different parts of the world during a very difficult time, a period of many changes caused by pandemics, war and other turbulences. After such storms, Shakespeare’s plays, several hundred years after they were written, can still move and entertain. This is the time when, of all the arts, theatre, in its nature a community experience, has suffered most. In addition, for several months now we have been experiencing the theatre of war, just across our border, a war that is both cruel and heroic, that evokes many emotions, that carries a load of new meanings for every generation, that sets and exceeds our limits of humanity, heroism and sacrifice. Only Shakespeare could describe what might seem to us, following Adorno, impossible to describe – that now, after the experience of the last war, it is impossible to use words to convey the brutality of the present. However, despite the losses, despite the misfortunes, we have the right to experience together, in fact we absolutely need to experience together this festival, because once again we see how theatre brings closer, explains, deconstructs all those stories that make Shakespeare “our Contemporary”. Nothing can replace the communal experience and co-creation of theatre, and nothing can replace the communal reception of a theatrical performance as a spectator – among others, strangers but bursting out laughing at the same moment or holding their breath with delight or sadness.
The diversity of interpretations of Shakespeare or the diversity of theatrical aesthetics will be proved by triple versions of “The Tempest”, double versions of “Hamlet” and “Epiphany”. The stagings of “The Tempest” hosted by the 26th edition of the Shakespeare Festival – very different versions, from different theatrical orders: different aesthetic approaches, each looking for different answers in the Theatre. Three versions created during very different contexts of their creators’ work and lives: The Camp Storm of the Romanian “enfants terrible” from Bulandra Theatre; the stylised, almost baroque staging of the young Italian theatre maker Alessandro Serra from the National Theatre of Turin and, as it were, its reversal: the minimalist, intensely pure choreographic work of the Danish company Glad Theatre and Hamlet Scenen.
Two other “Hamlets”, in perverse stagings from the Czech Republic and the USA, will ask a question that is so topical and ambiguous today: TO BE or NOT TO BE.
The new VR “HA-M-LET” from California’s CalArts Center for New Performance is created by the young Brazilian artist Peter Mark, who freely uses both his personal intimate family experiences and the Brazilian imaginarium to weave Hamlet’s story, while using the latest VR technologies, AR, projections, memes, gifs. On the other hand, we hope that Hamlet from the Czech performance “Hamlet on the Road” from the Divadlo Radost theatre from Brno will give us a wonderful version of the true Czech philosophical approach to the crisis: calm, distance and humour.
Yes, humour can save us, which is why we are inviting as many as two hilarious, charming versions of ‘The Night of the Three Kings’ from two national theatres: one directed by Piotr Cieplak from the National Theatre in Warsaw and the other, a Czech one, from the National Theatre in Brno, directed by Štěpán Pácla, both productions with outstanding acting roles.
We hope that the coming festival will be a true Celebration of Theatre after this pandemic Storm, which has tired us all, and which has taken the Creator of this Theatre and Festival away from us. We know that Prof. Limon would like our ship to sail on, to be an open haven for everyone: young and old, seasoned theatre-goers as well as casual tourists, who may have their first experience of theatre right here. After Tempest we invite everyone to sit down, relax and sail away to a world made of such material as dreams, because, quoting the author of Tempest “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”.
Curator and creative producer of international theatre projects, responsible for selecting international productions during the 26th International Shakespeare Festival. In 2009-2019, as the chief expert on performing arts at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, she organized screenings and reviews of Polish theatre around the world, developed dance residency projects and drama exchanges, including initiating work on (A)pollonia: 21st-Century Polish Drama and Texts for the Stage and a number of experimental projects such as Digital Play Festival, Paderewski Musical Project and bringing Kochanowski’s and Wyspianski’s texts to the stage of the Globe Theatre in London. Outside the theatre Klass is preparing the (M)Useum Utopii in Walter Gropius’ Granary in Jankow Pomorski.