“In Poland, Hamlet’s riddle is this: what is there in Poland – to think about.”
Stanisław Wyspiański’s words are from his “Study of ‘Hamlet’”, feverishly written over a few days. It is an uncommon work that has been the source of inspiration for many Polish directors. Wyspiański included in it his fascination with the phenomenon of theatre, his love for the brilliant text and his great desire to interpret it so intensely as to shake the consciences of his countrymen.
Director Bartosz Szydłowski has reached for “Hamlet” and reads Shakespeare’s most famous play through Stanisław Wyspiański’s world of ideas as expressed in “Study of ‘Hamlet’” or “Wyzwolenie” [“Liberation”]. Wyspiański was sighing his life away because Poland was petty, egocentric, enchanted by nationalist slogans. He reached for “Hamlet” because he saw in it the struggles of a Polish intellectual trying to oppose the world of lies, triumphalist cackling, the grotesque, which had, from being an aesthetic category, become a category of description of the real world. The contemporary Polish Hamlet is a Hamlet of post-truth times. The last individual of decency.
“Play ‘Hamlet’ anywhere you want in Poland. Everywhere, your words: falsehood, theft, wickedness, will always mean wickedness, falsehood, harm! And they will call for revenge!”
A political “Hamlet” has been created, full of dilemmas, devoid of unambiguous answers, a “Hamlet” spread between visual timelessness and ideological, or rather philosophical, tension. In the production, questions of the greatest import are asked about the freedom of the individual, the right to make independent decisions and also, which might come out most strongly, about the situation of an individually thinking person, or at least one trying to think in this way, in a reality made up of fashions, poses, tokens and rhetorical figures. / Łukasz Maciejewski, “Wprost”
Bartosz Szydłowski’s excellent production at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków shows what we have done with independence. “In Poland, Hamlet’s riddle is this: what is there in Poland – to think about,” wrote Stanisław Wyspiański in his “Study of ‘Hamlet’”. It co-creates a script for a production, because the history of the Danish prince has always critically diagnosed Polish reality. It is the same now, since Bartosz Szydłowski’s production writes itself into the gallery of the most important stagings of the Shakespearean tragedy after 1989. / Jacek Cieślak, “Rzeczpospolita”