Polska awangarda teatralna 1919–1939. Antologia [Polish 1919–1939 Theatrical Avant- garde. Anthology of a Sourcebook.] is a collection of source texts from the years 1919–1939, which together represent that eponymous phenomenon from the perspectives of its concepts, projects, and programs (parts 1–3), and further, its achievements and productions (part 4). The authors of the collected texts are both artists and critics who add comment on the proposals and achievements of their forbearers. It is the first comprehensive proposal that presents the achievements of the Polish theatrical avant-garde since the 1973 publication Myśl teatralna polskiej awangardy 1919–1939. Antologia [Theatrical Thought of the Polish Theatrical Avant-garde 1919–1939. An Anthology.], by Wydawnictwa Artystyczne i Filmowe, compiled by Stanisław Marczak-Oborski, with notes by Lidia Kuchtówna. Many of the re-printed, original, canonical texts are accompanied in the new anthology by numerous new titles, new perspectives, and different contextualizations. Each text is accompanied by extensive footnotes reflecting the current state of research. The publication is largely based on first editions of the chosen texts – the editors have attempted as much as possible to restore the original shape of the iconographic and typographic image which held a particular importance.
The aim of the anthology is to facilitate access to important source materials as well as to boost interest in the Polish avant-garde theatre and its artistic avant-garde. The book is rich in illustrations, and in addition to the texts, the anthology contains biographical notes about each author, as well as a detailed bibliography.
The first part of the collection entitled Teatr przyszłości [The Theatre of the Future], is comprised of texts which marked a potential direction for the future development of theatre and other performative arts. Included are proposals, manifestos, and projects for ‘a theatre of tomorrow,’ such as those created by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy), Leon Chwistek, Leon Schiller, Andrzej Pronaszko, Józef Jarema, Tadeusz Peiper, and Anatol Stern.
The second part addresses ‘composition of space’: set design as an art to shape the theatre space as a whole. This became a special area of exploration for such avant-garde artists as Andrzej Pronaszko, Iwo Gall, Franciszek Siedlecki, and Józef Jarema, and in a way, is being discovered anew by Adam Dobrodzicki and Henryk Wiciński.
The third part of the anthology refers to the category of community, incorporating two basic elements of the theatrical event: actors and audience. It presents propositions concerning acting, and especially, the ‘living word’ of Juliusz Osterwa, Mieczysław Limanowski, Jerzy Braun, and Artur Górski, who perceived that the theatre of the future would be a result of profound metaphysical transformation. Further projects are shown through socially and politically engaged artists who had perceived a way to transform their art by transferring it to new environments: those of folk (Jędrzej Cierniak), or of working class surroundings (Aniela Sokolicz, Witold Wandurski, and Adam Polewka).
The last section, Dane do myślenia [Data for Thinking], contains speeches reflecting on stage productions which are considered to be important achievements for the Polish theatrical avant- garde. This is the most dialogic section, aiming not to present manifestos and programs, but instead, the process of discovery itself and the formulation of elements specific to the avant- garde. Written by those who had witnessed its development: critics, researchers, and artists, the source texts presented in this section discuss outstanding performances, arranged chronologically, which represent the most important trends of the Polish theatrical avant-garde during the interwar period.
The publication is part of the Reclaimed Avant-garde series and is financed by the program of the Polish Minister of Education and Science under the name “National Program for the Development of Humanities.”