I think – I feel – I engage
Creative activity and involvement in initiatives enabling artistic expression is a natural way to maintain or awaken faith that theatre can be a tool for social change, a tool for intergenerational dialogue, or even a tool for analysing reality or broadly understood intervention.
For years, we have been focusing on the perspective of children and teenagers, and we have been encouraging young people to name, express, reflect and doubt, therefore this edition of the Festival is accompanied by participatory projects involving young adults from many cities.
In September 2021, the project “21 Demands for the Future of Theatre”, initiated and directed by Dorota Kowalkowska and Michał Buszewicz in collaboration with young people involved in theatre projects at the Horzyca Theatre in Toruń, TR Warsaw, Wrocław Puppet Theatre, the Dramatic Theatre in Wałbrzych, the Zagłębie Theatre in Sosnowiec and the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre in Krakow, took place at the Utopia Home – International Empathy Centre (the new educational center opened by Łaźnia Nowa Theatre, conducted by director Małgorzata Szydłowska). After four days of workshops, watching performances and discussing the theatre, young people prepared their demands for directors, creators and viewers, which are a record of the conclusions from their approach to today's institutional theatre.
The second initiative of Little Divine Comedy 2021 is the co-production of STUDIO Teatrgaleria in Warsaw, Polish Theatrein Bydgoszcz and Łaźnia Nowa theatre: "Metamoerphoses", directed by Michał Borczuch, in which teenagers stand on stage next to professional actors. The premiere took place on September 19, 2021 The performance is shown during the large Divine Comedy 2021 in the program of the Purgatorio section.
We believe that theatre can be based on dialogue and that the perspective of children and young people should be noticed, understood and respected. For many years Little Divine Comedy has been a space conducive to building honest communication and giving young people courage in independent thinking and expressing their opinions in respect of various styles and the possibility of experiencing and understanding art.
As part of the Little Divine Comedy 2021, the following performances were presented:
17.09.2021, godz. 18:00 – Wszechmocni w sieci, Teatr Kamienica w Warszawie, 13+
19.09.2021, godz. 17:00 – Wędrówka Nabu, Teatr Lalek Arlekin w Łodzi, 7+
3.11.2021, godz. 18:00 – Thriller, Nowy Teatr w Warszawie, 13+
9.12.2021, godz. 18.00 – Przemiany, Teatr Łaźnia Nowa, STUDIO teatrgaleria w Warszawie, Teatr Polski w Bydgoszczy
21 Demands for the Future of Theatre:
1. We want to have the right not to understand theatre.
2. We want more cooperation between the theatre and the school.
3. We do not want a generation conflict.
4. We want performances for young audiences in every theatre.
5. We want to engage viewers in the theatre.
6. If the theatre has to claim that it is good, then, damn, it is not.
7. We do not want adults to pretend to be teenagers.
8. Less favouritism and routine in youth theatre groups.
9. Let us not take credit for old performances that we have not seen.
10. In the theatre, we do not only want to learn acting.
11. We want gardens, car parks and shops in every theatre.
12. Let us not exclude any spectator.
13. We want different bodies in the theatre.
14. Theatre is a community, not a hierarchy.
15. More people who have never been to the theatre before.
16. We want friendly doormen.
17. Ramps, subtitles, audio description, Polish sign language.
18. A diploma is not everything.
19. We want festivals of youth theatres.
20. Let us not make the viewer a moron.
Curator Dorota Kowalkowska - 21 Demands for the Future of Theatre – about the project
After months spent without theatre and live classes, they met in one place and in a "new" situation. During four intense days of joint workshops at Utopia Home – International Empathy Centre at Łaźnia Nowa Theatre, a dozen or so teenagers took a critical look at the theatre. The workshops were accompanied by watching performances and discussions about the theatre. The result of the meeting was the final show for the audience, as well as a podcast and an exhibition. Young adults from Kraków, Toruń, Wałbrzych, Sosnowiec, Wrocław and Warsaw created the "operational group for young people in the theatre" and outlined a vision of the theatre they needed, missed and preferred to stay away from.
Representatives of youth groups from six institutional theaters told about their theatrical experience and dreams. About initiatives and activities, in which they can participate, often thanks to the regular work of theater pedagogues, who care about the space for their subjective presence. The teenagers also expressed the hope that for the directors and artists of the institution they were not "a temporary repertoire trend", but participants in the conversation about the changing world, open to their diversity, needs and borders.
They wrote 20 slogans - manifestos on 21 yoga mats, where participants of the project greeted the sun every day. They left the twenty-first postulate for others to write - a carte blanche with an encouragement to express themselves and act. The postulate of opening and continuum.
The meeting of young people in Łaźnia and the preparation of "21 demands for the future of theater" is an invitation to an extensive and in-depth debate on what the offer of theaters in Poland is like for teenagers. Do the creators invite them to participate and discuss? What challenges do institutional theaters face in this field and what directions of cooperation with young people and their co-presence should be set in them? What can be the role of artists, theater educators, directors in this, and have we not stopped by promotional slogans and clichés, losing sight of the need for specific proposals, commitments and openness to real needs?
The House of Utopia is a welcoming place for such dreams of change and intergenerational dialogue. My dream is for the theater to talk more about others and less about itself.
Production: Teatr Łaźnia Nowa w Krakowie, Mała Boska Komedia
Project curator: Dorota Kowalkowska
Workshop, installation direction : Michał Buszewicz
Producer: Martyna Paliś
Project participants: Krystian Cieślik, Mikołaj Dziedzic, Zofia Grzywacz, Weronika Knedler, Ewa Mrożnik, Katarzyna Ostaszewska, Zofia Papińska, Wiktoria Podborowska, Illia Prychyn, Kaja Sienkiewicz, Błażej Szymański, Barbara Tarnówka-Bałabuch, Iga Wojciechowska
Theatre educators: Katarzyna Krajewska, Nikola Olszak, Katarzyna Pągowska, Katarzyna Peplińska-Pietrzak, Anna Rochowska
The final show took place on September 19, 2021 at the Utopia House - International Empathy Center at the Łaźnia Nowa Theater.