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A Feigned Emancipation | Kwaśniewska | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966

PUBLISHED BYtype2

Monika Kwaśniewska

A Feigned Emancipation

Bożena Keff, <i>A Piece on Mother and the Fatherland</i>, directed by Jan Klata, Polski Theatre in Wrocław, premiere: 6.01.2011. Photographer: Natalia Kabanow.

Bożena Keff, A Piece on Mother and the Fatherland, directed by Jan Klata, Polski Theatre in Wrocław, premiere: 6.01.2011. Photographer: Natalia Kabanow.

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The author begins her essay by underlining the differences between a literary original and the performance based on it. Keff is interested in the links between national identity and the cultural construction of gender, and concentrates primarily on the nexus between anti-Semitism and discrimination of women. The subject of A Piece on Mother and the Fatherland, published in 2008, is the autobiographical relationship between the mother – a Polish Jew, the sole survivor of the Holocaust in her family – and her daughter, whose biography and identity were determined by her mother’s experiences. In 2011, Klata’s treatment of Keff’s text minimized and/or dispensed with its fundamental motif of the heroines’ Jewish identity, the Holocaust and Polish anti-Semitism. Furthermore, he redistributed all the lines to a chorus of six characters, thereby doing away with the highly personal tone of A Piece…. The marginalization of the themes of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism was also served by the decision to rewrite the text to fit the realm of Polish identity, and transcribe the experiences of a Polish Jewess into the figure of the Polish 'Mother in Mourning'. It is hard to accept that in referencing the issue of the place of women in (Polish) culture and creating a certain space for feminist interpretations, in many places the director appears to mock both women and feminism.

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Monika Kwaśniewska

PhD, graduate in theatre studies from the Jagiellonian University and postgraduate gender studies at the Institute of Audiovisual Arts at the same institution. Editor of Didaskalia theatre journal. Author of Od wstrętu do sublimacji. Teatr Krzysztofa Warlikowskiego w świetle teorii Julii Kristevej (2009).

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