Ode to Joy
Based on his family history, Polish director and visual artist Wojtek Ziemilski addresses the themes of history, tradition and heritage in his latest stage play. With Anna Dzieduszycka, a distant cousin, renowned actress and protagonist of the play, Ziemilski seeks to talk about the common past and the fact of inheritance, of material objects, physical features and cultural values.
Audience discussion afterwards on 30.09.
Duration: 1 hour, Polish with German subtitles
Wojtek Ziemilski won renown thanks to the lecture-performance titled “Small Narration” telling the story of his grandfather, Wojciech Dzieduszycki, and the controversy surrounding the disclosure of his cooperation with the Security Service (i.e. Secret Police) by the Institute of National Remembrance. “Ode to Joy” is the third, after “Small Narration” (2010) and “Come Together” (2017) play by Ziemilski in Studio Theatre. This acclaimed director, author and creator of performative installations in which conceptual thinking, reflection on language, community and stage fiction play a critical role, in his latest play returns to the subject of legacy and heritage.
I have a cousin. Her name is Anna Dzieduszycka. She is a distant cousin and I don’t know her well. Supposedly she visited with us when I was small. Anna is an actress – she played in several productions on Polish stages (including Powszechny Theatre), and for her role in the short film “Dress” (2020) she was awarded as the best actress at the Rhode Island Film Festival. The film was nominated for the Oscar.
I remember her parents: the father is a religious traditionalist, and the mother – an atheist and rationalist.
Describing all that I’m thinking about the problem I have been facing for a long time: it’s legacy. Inheriting objects, noses, hands, features, values. It’s the problem of noble faces and behaviours, good and bad homes.
I’d like Anna to talk to me about that.
Anna is a person of short stature. Although she hates this term. She calls herself a midget woman.
It will be a play about what connects us, what we get as inheritance, from what we liberate ourselves, and what remains within us. About models – of beauty, behaviour, “personal culture”. About building our world.
In her story, Anna will be accompanied by three actors from Studio Theatre.
All four of them underwent detailed genetic testing, especially for this production.
Wojtek Ziemilski is a theatre director and visual artist. He works across art forms,
rooting himself in the diversity of performance arts. His works have been shown around the world, at events ranging from the Ruhrtriennale to the Prague Quadriennial to the Divine Comedy Festival. One of his most recent shows – One Gesture – won, among others, the main award at the Zürich Theater Spektakel festival and the main award at the Fast Forward festival in Dresden.
Ziemilski extends the idea of documentary performance. His work is often an inquiry into spectatorship and the possibility for action. By using tools such as devising, real-time composition, but also references from the world of visual arts and various media, he builds universes that combine aesthetic experience with intellectual inquiry. He is a lecturer at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw and at the Warsaw University, and has been giving lectures and workshops across th world, e.g. at the Prague DAMU, UNIRIO in Rio de Janeiro.
Sodja works as a dramaturg for independent theatre, dance and exhibition projects, working often in unusual performance spaces. She teaches devised theatre dramaturgy and runs master studies at Prague Performing Arts Academy (DAMU). She was artistic director of the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2008 – 2015, where she curated series of living exhibitions in public spaces. Lotker has given lectures and workshops at Columbia University, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Yale and a number of festivals, symposia and other theatre events. Her interests include performance and installation dramaturgy, co-operative theatre, theatre as thinking machine, thinking through doing, collective dialogues, dramaturgical feedback, spatial relating with audiences, unfolding of spatial dramaturgy in time etc.
Wojtek is a visual artist, filmmaker, sculptor and set designer. Born in 1980 in Warsaw, he graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and in Intermedia Department from the University of Fine Arts in Poznań.
Pustoła has developed a characteristic minimalist style, visible in his sculptural, scenographic, cinematic and performative works. In theatre, he is a devotee of the anti-scenography, searching for the most economical ways of creating space and stage objects, the function of which, however, is always superior to aesthetics.
In an ongoing collaboration with theatre director Wojtek Ziemilski on the concept and set design of numerous theatrical performances, including the award-winning show One Gesture – an intimate portrait of four members of deaf community and the peculiarities of sign language.
Concept: Wojtek Ziemilski, Wojtek Pustoła
Text, direction: Wojtek Ziemilski
Dramaturgy: Sodja Zupanc Lotker
Set design: Wojtek Pustoła
Music: Igor NIkiforow
Costumes: Dasha Filshyna
Director’s assistant, choreographic consultations: Stanisław Bulder
Animation: Kacper Buratyński
Light design: Robert Mleczko
Production manager: Justyna Pankiewicz
Stage manager: Zuzanna Prusińska
Anna Dzieduszycka (as a guest)