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Krystian Lupa

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Krystian Lupa during rehearsals for the <i>Proces</i> [<i>The Trial</i>], 2017, photo: Magda Hueckel

Krystian Lupa during rehearsals for the Proces [The Trial], 2017, photo: Magda Hueckel

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Krystian Lupa responds to an article 'Between Freedom and Manipulation: The Situation of Actors in Factory 2' by Monika Kwaśniewska (Polish Theatre Journal 2019, no. 1).

 

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I don’t wish to argue with the content of this text, although I don’t regard it as entirely fair (especially regarding the conclusions and interpretations of the actors’ statements) or objective. In fact, objectivity in such studies of the creative process seems to be something unattainable, and perhaps unnecessary. It was interesting for me here to see the flipside of our creative adventure, the other side of the myth created by actors the dressing-room myth, as we might call it. By no means do I treat this term pejoratively. What I heard was new and unknown to me, and gave me the chance to gain a different perspective on the work. While we’re working we’re essentially not fully aware of the character of our mutual relations; for example, I’m not aware of whether, and to what extent, I become a manipulator. Perhaps I do, since that’s the way I’m perceived from the outside. For example…, for a long time we didn’t know who to invite to Factory 2, because there was no script. If there’s a script, then everything’s clear: there are characters that are entrusted to actors. Our material was the Silver Factory and the characters who showed up there. They didn’t form a closed group – people came and went. I didn’t know how to put the cast together while referring to that reality. There’s also the fact that not knowing, intuition, having a dream, is a monster, a beast, a vampire … in any case my indecision regarding the cast wasn’t meant to ratchet up tensions among the actors – that’s a typical mythological invention of the dressing room…. I remember very well the meeting with Kasia Warnke to which she refers. I think that was the first time I saw her, and she made such an impression on me that I changed my mind…. the reasons for changes in human decisions are often a lot simpler than their interpretations and analyses.

The Warhol phenomenon is very peculiar in ethical and moral terms: it causes fear in a so-called decent person. I think that kind of alchemical work by an artist causes fear in normal people. Warhol was also seen as a cynical manipulator, someone who intentionally provokes shock and agitation among his creative partners, and then makes use of that. Perhaps that was indeed the case and my intuition reacted to it and created something parallel, but I don’t feel that it was something premeditated on his part. I see him more as a child on the verge of autism, possessed by his work more than his career. The biggest manipulator is the artistic dream.

The common expectation, also expressed in this text, that everything that is produced artistically should be morally and ethically beyond reproach, seems impossible to me. There is no such creative process that is entirely free and democratic as well as ordered and pure. Of course, on the one side there’s me, and on the other, the cast. They have the sense that I am their leader and that all my decisions are made consciously and with premeditation. Whereas I have a sense of loneliness, and very often of profound fear. The dream that emerges in the process is something autonomous, it’s not me. The ideas that appear during the work are separate from me, coming about between me and the actors. I’m just as much a slave to the dream as they are. Yet they – I see this now – identify this vampire-dreamer with me. I kept people in a state of ignorance, because I didn’t know myself. But someone had to guide the process, it can’t just be done by a parliament, it’s impossible. Yes, I firmly believe that the narcotic of the actor is improvisation. Trusting the imagination…. Do actors always share this belief and trust? You never know for sure. Either in rehearsals or at performances – and this certainly doesn’t apply particularly to the experience of Factory 2.

But of course... Outside of rehearsals, we organized all kinds of celebrations, as separate, or in fact private or semi-private events – for instance Warhol’s birthday on the anniversary of his death. We didn’t treat them as rehearsals. They were banquets we attended like fancy-dress balls, dressed up as Warhol’s characters. We behaved as people at banquets behave, we didn’t pretend to drink alcohol while drinking lemonade. We simply drank alcohol, as one does at banquets. No more or less. Małgosia Hajewska’s remark that she was just giving up alcohol right then seems an exaggeration to me. Does she mean to say that apart from Warhol’s birthday she didn’t go to other parties? The only alien, new element at the banquet was the camera. It was also an experience – people have banquets to enjoy them, we had banquets to get an experience from it. All those paths led to understanding the Factory Phenomenon. It all took place in an atmosphere of initiatives discussed and undertaken together and having accepted that path and not another together. Nothing happened against anyone’s sense of creative boundaries, creative convictions, on the director’s so-called command. A director isn’t somebody who gives orders, but rather somebody who ignites the desire for a journey, with all the risk that lies within or is hidden in that journey…

This article was originally published in Didaskalia 150 (2019).



Translated by Ben Koschalka

Krystian Lupa

(1943) is a Polish renowned theatre director, stage designer, playwright, pedagogue.