Factory 3 | Zielińska | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


'Birthday' (Micro Theatre), dir. by Anna Karasińska, premiere: 12. 11. 2016, produced by Komuna//Warszawa. Photo: Pat Mic.
Maryla Zielińska

Factory 3


The article analyses Anna Karasińska’s work as a director, attempting to place her theatre and filmmaking experience on the map of contemporary theatre (post-theatre). In the five productions Karasińska has made since her début work in 2015 (Ewelina’s Crying, The Second Performance, Birthday, the Fantasia, All Imaginary), she seems to break the art of theatre down, conjure up the effect of strangeness and ask: ‘What is this?’. An ontological quest, overlaid with a paradoxical sense of humour, lies behind the simplicity of the question, and the formal simplicity of Karasińska’s theatre. A practitioner of micro-theatre and auto-theatre, ever since her first production Karasińska has been much in demand, receiving invitations to festivals in Poland and abroad, and being approached by mainstream theatres.

She came to theatre as a so-called mature individual, at the age of 37, with a wealth of experience which, though diverse, had scarcely anything to do with theatre. Her work in theatre is a laboratory of sorts. She clearly has a need to physically exist within the structure she herself created: she appears on stage, or else she’s present in voiceover (albeit live). Stage and costume design seem to represent and illustrate nothing, not to construct a narrative of any sort in Karasińska’s work – they are there to render meanings indistinct. By offering theatre in its unadorned form, Karasińska invites us to take part in an identity game on the theme of the theatrical situation: what it means for those who take part in it as co-authors and audience members. In addition, Karasińska plays with the context of great forms and critical theatre, prevalent in Poland. Her brand of theatre is distinctly her own.


Anna Karasińska; Krystian Lupa; TR Warszawa; Micro-theatre; auto-theatre; Komuna// Warszawa

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Maryla Zielińska

received a degree in theatre studies from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (1989). Her MA dissertation on director Wacław Radulski's work in the theatres of Lviv up until 1939, was supervised by the eminent Polish Literature scholar Professor Jan Błoński. She received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2011 and 2017 (in connection with her biography of director Jerzy Grzegorzewski). A collection of interviews with Grzegorzewski, co-authored by Zielińska, and a volume of his scripts (also including his essay on the adaptation of  Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich) are forthcoming from the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw. From 2011 to 2017, Zielińska taught a seminar on contemporary theatre at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. Since 2017, she has taught a writing workshop at the Department of Theatre Studies, Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw.


-      Essay in a post-conference publication for director Erwin Axer's centenary (forthcoming);

-      An analysis of Playing the Victim by Kirill Serebrennikov in the anthology Lustra i echa. Filmowe adaptacje dzieł Williama Shakespeare'a [Mirrors and Echoes. Shakespreare's Film Adaptations] (Kraków 2017);

-       Theaterslam. Neue Dramatik aus Polen [Theatre Slam. New Drama from Poland] catalogue (Berlin 2011) – contributor, editor and author of biographical notes;

-      Essay on director Grzegorz Jarzyna in the post-conference publication 20-lecie. Teatr polski po 1989 [Two Decades. Polish Theatre After 1989] (Kraków 2010);

-      Jarzyna: Teatr/ Theatre (Warsaw 2009) (author of introduction and notes on productions);

-       Essay on Jarzyna in the collection zbiorze Strategie publiczne, strategie prywatne. Teatr polski 1990-2005 / Öffentliche Strategien, private Strategien. Das polnische Theater 1990-2005(Warszawa 2006);

-      Essay on the dramatic art of 'local homelands' in the collection Ogólnopolski Konkurs na Wystawienie Polskiej Sztuki Współczesnej. 10 lat, 1995-2004[Ten Years of the National Competition for the Staging of A Contemporary Polish Play, 1995-2004] (Warsaw 2004);

-      Reports on events in Polish theatre for the European Theatre Convention's Saint-Étienne publishing outlet (1998-2000) and for the catalogue issued to celebrate ten years of the Mittelfest Festival at Cividale del Frulli (1991); 

-      co-editor of bilingual (Polish-English) volume Stary Teatr  (Kraków, 1991); 

-      contributor (since 1989) to journals published in Poland: Kultura Niezależna, Twórczość, Goniec Teatralny, Dialog, Theatre in Poland, Notatnik Teatralny, Przekrój, Nowe Książki, Res Publica Nova, Ozon, Teatr Lalek, Kronika Warszawy-and abroad:  Lietuvos Teatras, Zsöllye szinházi folyóirat, Moskowski nabludatiel, Tieatr, Ade Teatro, Theater der Zeit, Max Jospeh, Russkaja Gazieta.