Bleak Futurism | Gruszczyński | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


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

Bleak Futurism




The article analyses Krystian Lupa’s staging of The Trail, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel Der Process, highlighting the complex political and institutional conditions surrounding the work. The author examines why the Polish audience responded to the play with considerable reservations, manifesting their disappointment and disapproval, while internationally it met with understanding and was considered a profound work. The author argues that Lupa, who in recent years has been deeply involved in public debates and has criticized the anti-democratic activities undertaken by the current right-wing government of Poland, has opted in his play to give voice to a painful critique of his own liberally-minded audience, people who appear oblivious to the shallowness of their own stance, helpless and baffled by the present-day balance of power, and thus devoid of genuine communal thinking. The article also discusses the critical capacity of art and its ability to change the world. Until the work on The Trial, Lupa had remained steadfast in his belief that artistic mechanisms could impact upon the very social fabric by appealing to audience’s souls and spirituality. The Trail offers painful evidence to the contrary.



Krystian Lupa; The Trial; Political theatre

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Piotr Gruszczyński


(1965) is a theatre critic and playwright. In 2002 he published the book Ojcobójcy [Patricides], the first analysis of new Polish theatre. This was followed in 2007 by Szekspir i uzurpator [Shakespeare and the Usurper], a series of conversations with Krzysztof Warlikowski (the book was also published in France and Romania, and a Russian edition is forthcoming). He is the co-author of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s theatre adaptations (A)pollonia, Un Tramway, Koniec [The End], Opowieści afrykańskie według Szekspira [African Tales according to Shakespeare], Kabaret warszawski [Warsaw Cabaret], Francuzi [The Frenchmen], Phaedra(s) and Wyjeżdżamy [We’re Leaving]. He also works as a dramatist with Mariusz Treliński on his opera productions, which to date have included Boris Godunov, Orfeo ed Euridice, La traviata, Turandot, The Flying Dutchman, Manon Lescaut, Iolanta, Bluebeard’s Castle, Tristan and Isolde, and King Roger. Since 2008 he had been the dramatist of the Nowy Theatre in Warsaw. Teaches at the Faculty of Theatre Theory at the National Academy of Dramatic Art and Warsaw University of Social Sciences and Humanities.