As it is commonly known, the Łódź of Four Cultures Festival refers to the cultures that had a large influence on the history of the city: Polish, Jewish, German and Russian ones. These cultures existed next to each other, building the identity of Łódź and creating its community. Living in harmony with each other demands something difficult but beautiful: tolerance, acceptance, and cooperation. And this is what we are going to talk about during the theatrical part of the festival; by means of art, we want to show that life in harmony was and is possible. The respect for this history is the main inspiration for our cultural and artistic conception.
The theatrical part of the festival is strongly inspired by this historic foundation and is focused on an attempt of dialogue between cultures, while guaranteeing the highest quality entertainment, performances for the youngest audience, performances of the theatre of dance, which is developing strongly in Poland, classic small theatre and an outdoor performance. Performances produced together with Łódź theatres are created especially for the festival, but well-known performances prepared by theatres from Warsaw and Cracow will also take place. We are also presenting two “foreign” proposals. This selection will show the power the dialogue had in the past and still has today. In this dialogue, we use cultures, but also cities and countries.
The question is, however, how we point to this tradition. Some societies choose their national tradition as the basis for their identity and uniting narration, whereas others invoke or invoked heterogeneous and evolving religious and mythical systems like Christianity, the rich culture of Ancient Greece, Slavic culture, revealing that the foundations on which the idea of the United Europe could be developed is the Enlightenment idea of the state giving its citizens rights in separation from religiousness. Therefore, in the past of Europe, you can see a fight of antagonistic systems over dominance; a struggle which lasts until today. We can also see Europe as the Old Ocean (pointing out the flow of processes, in contrast with the constancy of the term of continent); the ocean of practices, meanings and myths, which are in constant movement – they are floating and sinking in the depths, depending on the conditions of times and people.
The theatrical part of the Festival can be ideologically called “The Heart of Europe” – settled or wandering, and isn’t Łódź located in the very heart of Europe?
Russian culture will be represented by a performance of “Baśń o Rybaku i Złotej Rybce” (“The Tale of the Fisherman and the Goldfish”) (based on the text by Puszkin, a coproduction of the Festival and the Arlekin Puppet Theatre), an outdoor performance of “Wysocki. Powrót do ZSRR” (“Wysocki. The Return to the Soviet Union”) by the New Proxima Theatre from Cracow, “Is it Pamela/Inkarnacje” (“Is it Pamela/Incarnations”) directed and choreographed by Marta Ziółek (a coproduction of the Festival and the Studio Theatre in Warsaw).
The performance of “Antygona w Nowym Jorku” (“Antigone in New York”) combines Polish and Jewish motifs also with a very topical subtheme of emigration.
“Pożar w Burdelu. Ucieczka z kina Polskość” (“Fire in a Brothel. An Escape from the Polishness Cinema”), a performance by the Polish Theatre in Warsaw is a kind of a theatre and film fantasia about Polish film, its history and possible future, but it is also a satire on Polish myths and stereotypes.
The programme also includes two foreign performances: “Czarnobylska modlitwa” (“The Chernobyl Prayer”) by the National Theatre from Minsk and “Ashes to Ashes” from Great Britain.
Since dialogue must be expanded, let us do this by means of art.