Towards the Private: Notes on Contemporary Non-Fiction Theatre | Pawłowski | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


Roman Pawłowski

Towards the Private: Notes on Contemporary Non-Fiction Theatre

</>Grind/r</>, directed by: Piotr Trojan, premiere: 2.10.2015, TR Warszawa. Photographer: Marta Ankiersztejn.

Grind/r, directed by: Piotr Trojan, premiere: 2.10.2015, TR Warszawa. Photographer: Marta Ankiersztejn.

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Roman Pawłowski, playwright, critic and curator, analyses new models of documentary theatre (based on individual case studies), appearing in opposition to 20th-century political theatre, which expresses the problems of entire groups and social classes. This turn towards the private sphere is a response to the crisis in grand narratives which had fascinated 20th-century makers of documentary theatre, and at the same time it is a reaction against democratisation of media formats and culture created by users themselves. In new documentary theatre, individual experiences don't have to be a part of historical process but can instead be values in and of themselves. Alongside grand narrations, there are more personal tales, not designed to deal in complicated mechanisms involving contemporary politics and economics but to express individual experiences. The author presents a move towards the private sphere in the contexts of Polish and world documentary theatre, with specific focus on recent developments at the transition between the 20th and 21st centuries. Sample materials analysed in the article include performances involving new strategies of documentary theatre, including productions by Jan Turkowski, Marcin Gaweł, Agnieszka Przepiórska, Wojtek Ziemilski, Piotr Trojan, Anna Karasińska and Marcin Wierzchowski, along with personal theatre experiences of the author.


Roman Pawłowski

(1965), journalist, dramatist,  theatre curator, Deputy Artistic Director of the Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw (TR Warszawa). Graduate of the theatre-studies programme at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. As a journalist, he writes about issues of new dramaturgy and cultural policy. He writes for the periodicals Gazeta Wyborcza and Notatnik Teatralny. In 2015, he published a collection of interviews with prominent Polish artists and theoreticians about the future of culture, Bitwa o kulturę #przyszłość [A Battle for Culture #future] (Stary Theatre in Lublin, Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej [Krytyka Polityczna Publishing]). He edited two anthologies of contemporary political plays, Pokolenie porno i inne niesmaczne utwory teatralne [The Porn Generation and Other Distasteful Theatrical Plays] (2003) and Made in Poland. Dziewięć sztuk teatralnych z Polski [Made in Poland: Nine Theatrical Plays from Poland] (2006), which gave the impetus for the development of the new dramaturgy in Poland.  His main area of interest is documentary theatre. He is co-author of the idea and curator of the artistic residency and festival SOPOT NON-FICTION. In 2013, he made his debut as a dramatist and with the documentary theatre series Jeżyce Story in the Nowy Theatre in Poznań (dir. Marcin Wierzchowski). In 2014, together with director Wojtek Ziemilski, he staged the production Kosmologia rozdrażewska [The Rozdrażew Cosmology] within the framework of the ‘Wielkopolska: Revolutions’ programme. He worked as a dramatist for the production of Grzegorz Jarzyna’s Męczennicy [Martyrs] (TR Warszawa, 2015). He conducts his original workshop on theatre writing and non-fiction theatre.  Since 2014, he co-authors the Polish Festival of the Art of Directing ‘Interpretations’ in Katowice. He is a curator of an international theatre festival New Classics of Europe in the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź (since 2010). From 2008 to 2010, he was a co-founder of and teacher at the Drama Laboratory School, the first school of dramaturgy in Poland, and since 2013 he has been teaching in the Laboratory of New Theatre Practices at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw.