- October 1, 2012
”The Emigrants” came to Vilnius
It is good that the Vilnius Studio Theatre has decided put on just this play of the greatest post-war Polish playwright, writer and satirist Sławomir Mrożek. The play was directed in Vilnius by Sławomir Gaudyn, a well-known Polish actor, director, scriptwriter.
The premiere of ”The Emigrants” was held on Sunday, the 30th of September at the State Small Theatre of Vilnius. The hall with more than 200 seats was completely full and it is worth noting that the audience was not disappointed.
The two performers of two main roles Edward Trusewicz and Edward Kiejzik have given a great acting show and created very convincing characters of Mr AA and Mr XX who have found themselves in one of the European countries. The first is a political refugee, the other came there to make money.
Director Sławomir Gaudyn, previously associated with the Wanda Siemaszkowa Theatre in Tarnów and Dramatic Theatre in Rzeszów, currently running the Polish Children’s Theatre in London, arranges the action of ”The Emigrants” in such a creative way that despite funny, even grotesque scenes we can still, from the very beginning of the play, feel the tragedy of these two people isolated from the world, home, family, homeland.
Although the play “The Emigrants” was written in 1974 in the quite different than the current political and social realities, its undertone is still very valid. It helps to better understand the fate and situation of today’s emigrants who abandon Lithuania in large numbers seeking a better life in other countries. It is worth to note here that the author of the play, Sławomir Mrożek (born in 1930) knows the plight of people forced to leave their homeland himself because he was in exile from 1963 to 1996 . He currently lives in Cracow. The whole creative life of Mrożek is connected with this city. In the 50s he worked in the editorial staff departments of “Dziennik Polski”, “Echa Krakowa” and others. The older generation of Vilnius residents, also the former readers of “Przekrój” remember Mrożek as a satirist and author of the drawings published in the weekly paper.
As you know, Sławomir Mrożek is the author of numerous short stories, satirical texts, novels, but is best known as a playwright. He has been awarded several Polish and international prizes. He is recognized as one of Europe’s most prominent playwrights of the second half of the twentieth century. His plays full of even brutal satire, like “Tango”, “Island of Roses”, “The Fox Hunting”, “The Ambassador” and many others still enjoy great popularity in the theatres all over the world. The most popular are ”The Emigrants” whose story appears to be presented from a comic side, but still comedy ends in tragedy.
Hero AA (successful acting of Trusewicz), a very intelligent, well-read person, who knows foreign languages and plans to write a book, commits suicide at the New Year’s Eve. Why? Here in the West, where there is freedom of speech and of the spirit, which is often emphasized by AA himself when he says “I am a free man” – contrasting himself to his companion in misfortune, an ordinary worker, he should actually be happy. Unfortunately, the emptiness that has been created around him: no one waits for him in the home country, he does not receive letters from anyone, actually there is no one close to him, pushes him to suicide.
The XX character stirs sympathy. Kiejzik presents him accurately and in the final stages with a high degree of positive emotions. Yes, this ordinary, hard-working man in a foreign country. A little stingy, sometimes behaving in a crude manner, saving up every penny, even at the cost of his roommate. He has, however, a concrete working man’s goal. He wants to help his family, send children to better schools, build his own house. He frequently writes letters to the country, to his wife and receives a response from her which is envied by the big-headed, but lonely intellectual.
Since Mrożek wrote this play nearly 40 years have passed. And what do we see today? The consumer lifestyle has won. Both intellectuals and workers head for countries where they can sell their work on favourable terms. It is as if a great author like Sławomir Mrożek predicted that the worker was not such a hopeless slave of material goods even though he was perceived that way by Mr AA.
All that remains is to congratulate the manager of the Vilnius Theatre Studio, Lidia Kiejzik on enriching the Studio’s repertoire by the next ambitious play. Also the 2 Edwards deserve our congratulations since they have been capable of creating the unhappy emigrants in a credible manner.
Last Sunday in Vilnius can be called the ”Theatre Sunday” since in the Polish Culture House we could see a premiere of the play “Love Trap” by Inka Dowlasz from Cracow. The play was put on by the Polish Theatre in Vilnius (the manager – Irena Litwinowicz).Viewers who managed to see the “Traps” highly appreciated the whole show – interesting, lyrical, full of humor.
And at this point arises the question: was it neccessary for the two Polish theatre spectatles to take place in the same Sunday afternoon? In this case, a lot of people have found that quite often various Polish events overlap in time. It is a pity. There are people who are willing to participate in all of them.
Tłumaczenie Milena Jajkowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Milena Jajkowska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.