The Ludowy Theatre in Krakow
The theatre opened on 3rd December, 1955 presenting Wojciech Bogusławski's Krakowiacy i Górale (Krakow Folk and Highlanders) as its first performance. Within a decade since its opening, the Ludowy became known as an avant-garde theatre and was already counted among the prime and most interesting dramatic stages in Poland: this was possible thanks to Krystyna Skuszanka and Józef Szajna and other eminent artists, such as Tadeusz Kantor, Lidia Zamkow, Krystyna Zachwatowicz, Olga Lipińska, and Jerzy Krassowski, collaborating with them.
Since 1989 the theatre had been managed by Jerzy Fedorowicz. It is his idea to gather young directors, stage artists, and playwrights in the Ludowy Theatre and promote their debuts. In this way he opens a path to the debut to young theatrical designers and authors on the one hand, and on the other is successful in winning the young spectators for the theatre. The major stage presents productions based on the classics of Polish and world literature: Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda (Ivona, Princess of Burgundy) by W. Gombrowicz, Cid by P. Corneille, Kochankowie piekła (Infernal Lovers) by P. Calderon adapted to the stage by J. M. Rymkiewicz, Port wielki jak świat (A Port as Big as the World) based on the songs of Jacques Brel, Taming of the Shrew by W. Shakespeare, Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Moliere, Balladyna by J. Słowacki, Pan Jowialski by A. Fredro, and The Merry Wives of Windsor by W. Shakespeare.
The theatre has made a number of international successes. These include the 1996 appearance at the Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, where Shakespeare's Macbeth directed by Jerzy Stuhr won the Fringe First – the highest prize awarded by the local critics. A year later, Sophocles's Antigone put to stage by Włodzimierz Nurkowski received The Herald Angel Award. Other successful guest appearances included Łukasz Kos and Marek Wrona's production of Dziady cz. III Cela Konrada (The Forefathers' Eve part 3: Konrad's Cell) presented at the International Theatre Forum organised by the Lithuanian National Theatre in Vilnius in 1998.
Following the idea of Jerzy Fedorowicz, in the year 1992, the Ludowy began operating on the Little Stage situated in the centre of Krakow, initially at 1 Kanonicza St., and since 1994 at 1 Main Market Square, at the Scena Pod Ratuszem. This is where the theatre stages such chamber music and cabaret productions as Stare pianino (Old Grand Piano) directed by Marta Stebnicka, Perły kabaretu Mariana Hemara (The Pearls from Marian Hemar's Cabaret), Robin Hawdon's Wieczór kawalerski (Stag Party) directed by Janusz Szydłowski. Thanks to the great vocal skills and the acting talents of the young artists, particularly Marta Bizoń, Ewa Kaim, and Rafał Dziwisz, these productions enjoy great popularity with the spectators. The attractions of the stage include also contemporary dramas such as Pterodactyle (Pterodactyls): a tragic farce by Nick Silver directed by P. Chołodziński, Sex, Prochy, Rock&Roll (Sex, Drugs and Rock&Roll): Eric Bogosian's monodrama directed and performed by T. Obara and the dadaist production of Symfoniczna Wazelina 1917 (Symphonic Sycophancy 1917) prepared by Ł. Czuj.
The work of the Ludowy Theatre may be perceived not only as an artistic but also as a sociological phenomenon, as it promotes and develops the education and upbringing of the young new generation through the programmes initiated as Terapia przez sztukę (Therapy through Art.) A world-famous result of this programme was the experimental production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet played by youth from two subcultures: punks and skinheads. The programme continues, and its later productions include Cud w Alabamie (The Alabama Miracle) being the tale of the blind and deaf Helen Keller prepared by Jerzy Fedorowicz, Tragedia o polskim Scylurusie (Tragedy about the Polish Scylurus) performed by the patients of MONAR (Polish non-governmental organisation providing therapy for drug addicts) and the beautiful production of Le Petit Prince based on the book by Antoine de Saint- Exupery and staged by orphanage children. The Tragedy about the Polish Scylurus was a great success in Banska Bystrica and Bratislava. Slovak television produced an captivating documentary, titled The MONAR Dynasty, describing the work of Jerzy Fedorowicz with drug addicts. In July 1997 the Director was asked to conduct a theatrical workshop with the patients from Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany during the Culture Festival of the Mentally Challenged organised in Meinz on the Rhine. The workshop included the staging of Leszek Aleksander Moczulski's epic poem O stworzeniu świata (About the Creation of the World) whose final presentation was more than a great success.
The Therapy through Art series conducted on the Scena Nurt includes workshops bordering on theatre and psychology and are devised both for the young (Studio Improwizacji) and for the teachers and parents (Spróbujmy Się Dogadać.) There are also stagings: these include Toksyczni rodzice (Toxic parents) based on Susan Forward's book of the same title, and Bici biją (The Beaten Beat) directed by a psychologist Inka Dowlasz, who usually discusses aggression with the public after performances. The plans of the Theatre include the introduction of a motivating and preventive psychological programme for persons threatened with job loss, the unemployed, and those forced to change their profession, including the youth who see no future for themselves.
The Ludowy Theatre is also a partner in the Czytamy współczesny dramat (We Read Contemporary Drama): a project aimed at the promotion of the texts of Polish and world dramas that are unknown to the general public. The initiative is a reaction to the needs of the theatrical world, complaining for years on the lack of new texts that could be found interesting by a contemporary spectator. The regularly held presentations mean reading the texts aloud and their almost theatrical staging with the simplest available means and props. It is often that the sessions are accompanied by meetings with the authors and/or translators. This is also a chance for the most valuable dramas to be published in the Dramat współczesny (Contemporary Drama) series produced jointly with the "Księgarnia Akademicka" Publishing House. So far among the presentations held there have been: Monodrams by Katarina Frostenson with the participation of the Swedish playwright and her translator, Leonard Neuger, Werner Schwab's Pageant (Korowód) translated by Monika Muskała, Tankred Dorst's Zamknięte z powodu bogactwa (Closed Due to Richness translated by Elżbieta Jeleń,) Natalia Ginzburg's Sekretarka (Secretary, translated by Ewa Bal,) Feliks Mitterer's Stygmaty (Stigmata, translated by Artur Kożuch,) and plays by Polish authors: Radosław Figura, Krzysztof Derdowski, and Grzegorz Nawrocki.