Andrzej Wirth: A Century in the Landscape of Theatre
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
4:00pm – Screening of “Theatre Without Audience” by Pawel Kocambasi
6:30pm – Conversation with Andrzej Wirth
Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
The CUNY Graduate Center
Tickets: FREE + Open to public. First come, first served.
Join us for an evening with Andrzej Wirth, the legendary philosopher of theatre and founder of the ‘Applied Theater Studies’ in Giessen (Germany) in conversation with his former student Frank Hentschker. We will be celebrating Wirth’s interview biography, Flucht Nach Vorn (Fleeing Forward) by theatre critic Thomas Irmer, published in Germany by Spector Verlag, Leipzig (Polish translation Byle Dalej by Theater Institute, Warsaw). In the afternoon The Segal Center will screen the 2014 biographical documentary film on Wirth entitled Theatre Without Audience by Pawel Kocambasi, focusing on Wirth’s life and his experiments with Brecht’s play fragments of Downfall of the Egotist Johann Fatzer.
Andrzej Wirth, as a literary and theatre critic as well as an editor in Warsaw, wrote on Witkiewicz, Grotowski, Mrozek and Kantor. He was an assistant at Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble and associated with the literary Gruppe 47. A mediator between Polish and German culture during a vital period, Wirth translated works by German writers Kafka, Dürrenmatt, and Brecht into Polish and edited works by Bruno Schulz, Tadeusz Borowski, and modern Polish dramatists. Following a political emigration to the USA in 1966, Wirth taught drama and comparative literature at Stanford University, moving to the City University of New York in 1970. Additionally, he directed plays at campus theatres. In the 1970s, Wirth was instrumental in introducing Gertrude Stein, Robert Wilson and American Avant-garde Theatre into German critical discourse. A former student of praxiology (the theory of praxis) at the Warsaw School of Analytical Philosophy, he was looking for its application in theatre studies. In 1982, he founded the first German Institute for Applied Theatre Theory (Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft) at the Justus Liebig University Gießen, garnering a national and international reputation for that program and inviting internationally reputed guests such as Heiner Müller, George Tabori, Michael Kirby, Robert Wilson, Richard Schechner, John Jesurun and Emma Lew Thomas. As a visiting professor, Wirth taught and directed at Harvard University, Yale School of Drama, Oxford University, St Antony’s College, and the Freie Universität, Berlin. He has conducted international theatre workshops in Sydney, Australia, and under the hospices of the Teatro de la Righe in Volterra, Italy, as well as at Oxford University. With Thomas Martius, he made films on Venice and Las Vegas and on Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center.