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Wordless proposition from Poland


45 years since their inception, Visual Stage (Scena Plastyczna) - a Polish alternative theatre phenomenon, is finally coming to New Zealand. The group, which was founded and run by Leszek Mądzik - one of Poland’s most versatile artists, will perform in Christchurch at the upcoming Body Festival 2015 next week.

"We traditional directors," says Andrzej Wajda, "think that the material of theatre is words, drama, movement of characters who develop before our eyes - they experience their tragedy or comedy, are ridiculed or elevated to the role of ancient heroes. Leszek Mądzik wants all this to occur without words, action, distinctive characters. Is it theatre? Or is it a quasi-theatrical phenomenon? I don't know, I'm not interested in terms. Watching, I experience something I do not experience at other theatres. Leszek Mądzik is an artist, and if he didn't exist, he would have to be invented." (in: "Leszek Mądzik i jego teatr" / "Leszek Mądzik and His Theatre", Warszawa 1998) Scena Plastyczna (Visual Stage) is a theatre established by Leszek Mądzik at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in 1969. This auteur theatre ultimately turned out to be one of the most original proposals in Poland's post-war theatre life. Devoid of words or traditional acting - instead using silence and sound, based on stage design, space and the play of light, Scena Plastyczna KUL is an inspiring venue presenting dreamlike shows that explore human existence.

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Celebrating their 45 years of existence, Visual Stage with Leszek Mądzik will perform Furrow II (Masks) on 8th, 9th and 10th October 2015 at the St Michael’s Church School Hall, 244 Durham St South in Christchurch, as part of the Body Festival 2015.

About Leszek Mądzik
Mądzik’s achievements have secured him a place in the history of theatre and the visual arts. The founder and head of the Visual Stage, he is also a poster artist and book illustrator. As one of the most versatile Polish artists, he is known the world over for his suggestive, unique style. Leszek Mądzik was born on February 5, 1945 in Bartoszowiny, near Kielce, southern Poland.

After graduating from an arts college in Kielce (1965), he attempted three times to secure a place at the Arts University in Warsaw, Kraków and Poznań – to no avail. In 1966, he commenced his studies at the History Department of the Catholic University of Lublin. It was there that his adventure with the performing arts began. Mądzik’s debut with Scena Plastyczna was a performance of Ecce Homo, to which he wrote the script and designed the staging. With Wieczerza as his third performance on the Lublin scene in 1972, Mądzik took an interest in directing.

Engaging with the old Academic Theatre, who had previously performed dramas of an entirely different character, their performances took on more literary character, and yet they lived up to the new challenges.

It quickly became obvious that the formally expressive, unconventional stage works presented by Leszek Mądzik didn't, and to this day do not, have an equivalent in the world of drama. As the author himself claims, the source of the silence pervasive in his plays is his profound conviction that there exist areas of human reality which cannot be contained in words.

Quarter of a millenium of theatre in Poland The year 2015 is a very significant year in the history of Polish theatre. Exactly on 19th November 2015, Poland will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the first performance by a company established upon the initiative of king Stanislaw August Poniatowski, germinating the first professional Polish public theatre. For many years, the opening night of the comedy Intruders [Natręci] by Józef Bielawski on a November evening of 1765 has been considered the beginning of an institution so vital for Polish life - the National Theatre, and at the same time the beginning of the history of institutionalised public theatre. As a consequence, in 2015 we celebrate two anniversaries: 250 years of the National Theatre in Warsaw and two hundred and fifty years of public theatre in Poland.

Tickets to Furrow II (Masks) are available through Dash Tickets.

Scena Plastyczna’s visit to New Zealand is possible thanks to the support of the Polish Embassy in Wellington.


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