„WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf” directed by Natalia Korczakowska
First American Premiere from CalArts Center for New Performance and Poland’s STUDIO theatregallery
Friday, October 18, 2019 – Friday, October 25, 2019
631 West 2nd Street,
Click here for showtimes and Reservations
An innovative collaboration between Polish and US theater companies brings the American premiere of WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf to REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles. Based on the writings of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz and directed by Natalia Korczakowska, one of the most exciting Eastern European theater artists, WITKACY is a joint project of CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP) and STUDIO theatregallery of Warsaw.
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885-1939), commonly known as Witkacy, was a Polish avant-garde playwright, painter, novelist and philosopher. WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf is the latest project from an ongoing long-term collaboration between CNP and STUDIO theatregallery. For the production, a company of Polish and CalArts artists explore Witkiewicz’s work against the backdrop of the California wilderness. The plot follows a neurotic boy and his family, who travel from New Guinea through Sydney to the American West. Witkiewicz believed that nature could be a source of metaphysical experience, providing humans a chance to protect their individuality from the soulless social machine of Western civilization. WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf is a journey from Poland to the California desert – and into the depths of the self.
Travis Preston, Dean of the CalArts School of Theater and Artistic Director of the CalArts Center for New Performance, initiated this collaboration between CNP and STUDIO theatregallery in 2017. He was attracted by the idea of accessing and revitalizing avant-garde traditions, a vision shared by Korczakowska. “This idea is predicated on a theater that embraces all arts, abolishes genre, and forges a total transdisciplinary art practice,” Preston writes, adding that “both companies engage in cross-cultural dialogue between similar avant-garde artistic traditions – and together we create entirely singular original productions and projects.”
Inaugurating the partnership, Natalia Korczakowska visited CalArts in 2017 to work with student artists as she explored the notion of “pure form” developed by Witkiewicz. In 2018, artists from the extended CalArts community visited Warsaw and, together with STUDIO theatregallery’s resident company, developed performances, installations, video projects and creative workshops. Supervised by Preston as an artistic response to STUDIO theatregallery’s site and tradition, these projects culminated in a three-day CalArts Festival in Poland. The CNP/Studio collaboration has continued between Los Angeles and Poland, culminating now in Korczakowska’s staging of WITKACY at REDCAT.
Natalia Korczakowska studied theater directing at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Warsaw and has been directing in Poland since 2006. Her productions include “Electra – The Anatomy Lesson” for Cyprian Norwid Theatre in Jelenia Góra, a stage-adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel “Solaris” for TR Warsaw, the Lessing’s “Nathan the Wise” for the National Theatre in Warsaw, and Adam Mickiewicz’s “Forefathers’ Eve, Part III” for the Dramatic Theatre in Bialystok. For STUDIO theatregallery she has directed adaptations of Döblin’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and Dostoyevsky’s “Demons.” Korczakowska’s opera productions include Wolfgang Rihm’s “Jakob Lenz” and Stanislaw Moniuszko’s “Halka” conducted by Marc Minkowski for the Polish National Opera in Warsaw. She has collaborated with the prestigious Ensemble Modern orchestra on Hans Werner Henze’s “El Cimarrón” at the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg. She directed „Lost Highway” by Elfride Jelinek and Olga Neuwirth for New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw. In 2018 Korczakowska directed Witkacy’s The Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf at CalArts. In April 2016, Korczakowska became the artistic director of the Teatr Studio in Warsaw and changed its name – as a tribute to the avant-garde tradition of the place in the spirit of Józef Szajna and Jerzy Grzegorzewski – to STUDIO theatergallery. Today STUDIO theatregallery is one of the most important experimental theater spaces in Poland.
WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf is funded by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.