Revolution in the Cross’s Shadow: Solidarity as Performance | Kościelniak | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


Prayer at August strikes, Gdańsk Shipyard, 1980. Photographer unknown / collection of the European Solidarity Centre.
Marcin Kościelniak

Revolution in the Cross’s Shadow: Solidarity as Performance


The text is a fragment of a chapter from Marcin Kościelniak’s book Egoiści. Trzecia droga w kulturze polskiej lat 80 [Egoists. A Third Way in Polish Culture of the 1980s]. In the book, the author considers the first Solidarity movement in terms of its complex relationship with the Church and Catholicism, analysed at the level of signs and symbols it used, traditions it refered to, rhetoric it applied, as well as in the area of social practices and rituals it employed. Paying close attention to the extremely intense and almost universally accepted presence of the religious (and national-religious) discourse in Solidarity’s discourse, the author endeavours to problematize the widely accepted opinion of the first Solidarity as a universal, pluralistic, fully democratic movement. Viewing Solidarity as a cultural identity performance is at the same time an attempt at the genealogy of Polish modernity.


Catholic Church; First Solidarity Movement; Polish Modernity; Trade Unions; Solidarity as a Performance

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Marcin Kościelniak

Ph.D. lectures at the Theatre and Drama Department, Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Deputy editor of the Didaskalia journal. From 2006 to 2016, he wrote reviews for Tygodnik Powszechny. His interests include theatre history and the political in theatre, performative and visual arts of the twentieth and twenty-first century. He has published the following books: Prawie ludzkie, prawie moje. Teatr Helmuta Kajzara (2012), “Młodzi niezdolni” i inne teksty o twórcach współczesnego teatru (2014), as well as an anthology of Helmut Kajzar’s writings, Koniec półświni. Wybrane utwory i teksty o teatrze (2012). He co-edited 20-lecie. Teatr polski po 1989 (2010), 1968/PRL/TEATR (2016) and Teatr a Kościół (2018).