• November 30, 2015
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Polish Theatre in Vilnius celebrated its golden jubilee

 Last weekend, the Polish Theatre in Vilnius, which is celebrating a glorious jubilee of its existence, got back to where it all started. On the stage of the former Theatre at Pohulanka, a play be Aleksander Fredro “Ladies and Hussars’’ directed by Inka Dowlacz was performed. 50 years ago, Irena Rymowicz began the theatre’s activity with staging of this play written by the father of Polish comedy.

Saturday’s celebration was triple. The 100th anniversary of the Theatre’s founder Irena Rymowicz’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of the actress Danuta Sielica’s art work, who had wonderfully played a role of lady Ogrodowa in “Ladies and Hussars”.

Full hall of guests were welcomed by Irena Litwinowicz, an art director of Polish Theatre in Vilnius, who stressed that the memory of charismatic and hardworking founder of the theatre is always on the team’s minds.

‘’We are celebrating a really special jubilee today – the 100th anniversary of birthday of the actress, founder of our theatre and its president for many years, Irena Rymowicz. She was leading the theatre for over 30 years, she raised a lot of amazing actors who are still here with us. Rymowicz was devoted to her work wholeheartedly and her spirit is still with us. We are trying to continue her work in an appropriate way’’-Irena Litwinowicz said during a beginning of the ceremony.

The premiere of „Ladies and Hussars” directed by Irena Wymowicz took place in 1965. The play went very successfully and became famous among the opinion of a multinational society of Vilnius. A lot of professional stage designers and choreographers were willingly cooperating with the theatre’s team. Among them, there were: a great Lithuanian graphic Vytautas Kalinauskas, a choreograph Zofia Gulewicz, a manager for many years of the legendary „Wilia”, Tatjana Sedunowa, an art director of a troop from Ballet Lithuanian Opera, sound operator Jurij Łukaszewski (Irena Rymowicz’s son). In this Theatre, Joanna Moro (who currently makes a great career in Poland and Russia) and both working in Warsaw Jan Drawnel and Agata Meilutė were taking their first steps.

The theatre has lived through hard times when it had to operate without its seat and the team had to work in hard conditions. However, how it has been proven by its activity, with a zeal in the heart and belief in its mission, all the difficulties might be overcome. Theatre in Vilnius has now to its credit over 50 premieres and 3 000 plays, a participation in many theatre festivals in Lithuania and abroad.

As for the „Ladies and Hussars”, the play was not only perfectly fitting into the celebration of a glorious jubilee but also was making a melancholic atmosphere of autumn more pleasant. A comedy, which shows a comic situation in which brave hussars become powerless against weak women and their whims, received a loud applause and induced the audience’s admiration.

‘’Fredro covers an eternal subject between heart and mind, love and economy. An effort of protagonists’ reasonable calculation in “Ladies in Hussars” is getting defeated by faith which writes its own scenario, a scenario – as the author wants – dictated by love’’ – Inka Dowlacz says about the play she directs.

On the stage of the Theatre at Pohulanka, at the side of celebrating her artistic work’s 50th anniversary Danuta Sielica, a lot of many famous actors admired by Vilnius audience appeared: Mieczysław Dwilewicz, Mirosław Szejbak, Jerzy Szymanel, Teresa Samsonow, Danuta Sosnowska, Dariusz Pietrowicz. Also the younger generation of actors gained the audience’s sympathy – Inesa Starkowska, Rafał Piesliak, Bożena Sosnowska, Weronika Matuiza, Justyna Smilgin.

Among the people that came to the Saturday’s celebration, there were a lot of noble guests: Stanisław Cygnarowski, the general Polish Consul in Vilnius, Maria Ślebioda, a chargé d’affaires of Polish Embassy in Lithuania, Krzysztof Łachmański, a secretary of  the „Polish Community” Association, Maria Rekść, mer of Vilnius region, Józef Kwiatkowski, a president of the Association of Polish School Teachers in Lithuania „Macierz Szkolna”, Krystyna Dzierżyńska, a vice-president of „Macierz Szkolna”, Michał Mackiewicz, a member of Parliament and a president of  Association of Poles in Lithuania, Edyta Tamošiūnaitė, a Vilnius city councilor, Apolonia Skakowska, a president of the St. Moniuszko Centre of Polish Culture in Lithuania and many others.

Also, the representatives of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, clergy, cultural, social and diplomatic institutes were congratulating and wishing well during the celebration.

Maria Ślebioda stressed in her speech that this year has a special meaning for a Theatre in Poland. ‘’This year we are celebrating the 250th anniversary of the public theatre. We are also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tadeusz Kantor’s birthday whose heritage is indisputable in terms of the development of Polish theatre. That is why, this 50th anniversary perfectly  matches with such an event. At the time of internet, when one may think that we are bombarded with junk culture, I am very glad that polish theatre is blooming – both in Poland and here in Vilnius region. I am particularly happy because lasting of Polish culture and Polish language are not so obvious here like they are obvious in Poland’’-the representative of Polish Embassy said.

Additionally, a congratulatory letter from the Polish President Andrzej Duda that sent greetings for the theatre was read.

Stanisław Cygnarowski read out a congratulatory letter from a president of the Foundation Aid to Poles in the East, Janusz Skolimowski. He also, on Skolimowski’s behalf, gave to the art director of the theatre, Irena Litwinowicz a Meritus Patriae medal.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her artistic work, Danuta Sielicka was honored as well. The medal on the behalf of  the “Polish Community” Association was given to her by Krzyszot Łachmański. As a tradition dictates, at the end of the celebration a loud and common greeting song was sang.

From the history of the Polish Theatre in Vilnius

Polish Theatre was established in 1965 as a Polish Theatre Group at the Vilnius Palace of Culture of Railwaymen. In 1980, the theatre received a title of Polish Folk Amateur Theatre – the highest evaluation of artistic level of the authorities back them. In 1990 the group, as a Polish Theatre in Vilnius, was honored with a Badge “ Meritorious to Polish Culture’’ by the Polish Ministry of Culture and Art.

The founder, director for many years and art director of the Theatre was professional actress and direction Irena Rymowicz. Since 1993 the manager of the Theatre has been Irena Litwinowicz – actress of the group and a qualified director of Leningrad State Institute of Culture.

Among the Polish Theatre’s heritage are 50 premieres and over 3 thousand plays. In its repertoire, there are dramas, comedies, tales and mockery by not only Polish and Lithuanian authors but also world masterpieces – performed in Polish. The Theatre was the first in Lithuania to run Christmas games for children in Polish language. The Theatre is not limiting itself only to Vilnius and Vilnian region. It performed in Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Russia and Armenia. It is also a constant participant and a frequent winner of many festivals of amateur theaters in Lithuania and in Poland. In 1993-2001, the team was working without its seat and stage and plays were performed in Russian Drama Theatre in Vilnius. Since 2001 the Theatre has had its seat in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius.


Translated by Aleksandra Nowakowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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