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Der Szturem. Cwiszyn/ Burza. Pomiędzy (The Tempest. In Between)
The original premiere of The Tempest by William Shakespeare took place in Folks Un Jungt Theater in Lodz in 1938. In 1939, it was shown to the audience in Warsaw. It was recognised as the success of the Jewish theatre in Poland both by the Jewish and Polish critics and regarded as a success that instilled optimism and faith in the common Polish-Jewish world despite the anti-Semitic acts that happened outside the theatre and the fascists growing in power.
The words of Leon Schiller’s Caliban, the symbol of the new barbarianism: “when you burn down his books, he will lose all his power” sound today like a prediction of the Pogrom. After the atrocities of the 2nd World War and the Pogrom, the idea of performing Shakespeare’s plays in Yiddish has not been continued. Until now.
This is what Krystyna Duniec wrote about the pre-war performance in her essay written for the premiere of Der Szturem. Cwiszyn/ Burza directed by Damian J. Neć: “Schiller’s The Tempest performed in Yiddish in Folks un Jugnt Theater and directed by Klara Segałowicz, who was a renowned actress striving for Polish-Jewish cooperation, was regarded as the apologia for freedom in the reality that was becoming more and more brown. It may have happened because Schiller, as he said himself, had seen the secret of the righteous ruling of the world in The Tempest, meaning the mercy that does not come from weakness but from the feeling of panhuman unity. After the premiere, which took place on 9 October 1938, Abraham Morewski, who was outstanding as Prospero, said: I thought that my dreams about Shakespeare on the Jewish stage would never come true. I strongly believe that if we, the Jewish people, the old wanderers of the world, are able to detach ourselves from the reality of protests and breaking windows and create such a wonderful Shakespearian performance, we can also survive the tempest that is raging around us.”
The newest adaptation of The Tempest written and directed by Damian J. Neć is a universal and timeless play. Its ageless and sexless characters set against the background of the city falling into pieces transform it into a post-catastrophic picture suspended in time. It can happen everywhere, although the Yiddish language of the play specifies the place and time of action as well as imposes its interpretation: it is impossible to read it outside of the context of the Pogrom, the historic tempest that has changed the world.
We wish to know how this drama will sound in the present-day Poland divided by internal disputes 82 years after the premiere of The Tempest in Lodz and whether Yiddish will become a metawarning against the returning demons of the past, said Damian J. Neć, the play’s director.
Apart from The Tempest by William Shakespeare translated into Yiddish by Yosef Goldberg, the play will contain fragments of Ringelblum Archive, The Book of Lamentations and The Song of Songs.
The performance will be played in Yiddish with subtitles in Polish.
The premiere: 3 October in the Jewish Theatre.
About the director
Damian Josef Neć has graduated from the Directing Department of The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. He has also studied at the Faculty of Jewish Studies of the Jagiellonian University. He is the winner of the main prize in the competition entitled The History and Culture of the Polish Jews organised by the Shalom Foundation (2008) and he was also awarded a distinction in the same competition in 2010. He is a videoart creator as well. His performance entitled Chicas PL was presented at Sibiu International Theatre Festival in Romania in 2017. In 2018, his performance Haggadah on Poland was shown during the Miasto Szczęśliwe Festival in the Zygmunt Huebner Theatre in Warsaw. He has recently directed a play entitled Provincial Actors in the Wilam Horzyca Theatre in Toruń.