The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute recently published a new book as part of the “Reclaimed Avant-garde” project. Szara strefa awangardy i inne szkice [The Grey Zone of the Avant-garde and Further Writings] is a collection of works by the outstanding Polish researcher Ewa Guderian-Czaplińska, and edited by Małgorzata Leyko and Wojciech Dudzik. The book is available in the Institute’s Prospero Bookshop and online at prospero.e-teatr.pl.
Issues relating to avant-garde drama and the theatrical avant-garde constituted an important strand of research by the late theatre scholar Ewa Guderian-Czaplińska (1962–2020), who was associated with the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań for much of her academic and professional life. This volume presents a selection of Guderian-Czaplińska’s most important works on innovative artistic activities in Poland and abroad during the interwar period. The first part of the publication is a reprint of the book Szara strefa awangardy [The Grey Zone of the Avant-garde] published in 1998, which was devoted to the dramatic works of the Kraków Avant-garde whose prominent members included Jan Brzękowski, Jalu Kurek, Tadeusz Peiper, and Julian Przyboś.
The second part of the volume contains various texts devoted to drama and theatre (beyond that of the avant-garde), which had been previously published in various monographs and periodicals. Now bound in a single volume, the works show an evolution of the author’s interests, shifting from her initial focus on drama, to the problems of composition in theatrical space and the relationship between visual arts and theatre discussed in her later works: “Z czego buduje się tło sceniczne?” [What is the stage background built of?] devoted to Iwo Gall’s ideas on stage design, “Wyobrażone przestrzenie teatru Teresy Żarnowerówny” [Imaginary Spaces of the Theatre of Teresa Żarnówerówna], and “Nie obrazy – relacje. Nowe przestrzenie w awangardowych projektach teatralnych” [Not Images – Relations. New spaces in avant-garde theatre projects], as well as a depiction of the performance “Sen” [Dream] by Felicja Kruszewska, and directed by Edmund Wierciński at the Nowy Theatre in Poznań (1927).
Several texts presented in the second part of the book were written as part of Guderian-Czaplińska’s work while a member of the team executing the “Reclaimed Avant-garde. Theatre avant-garde in Central- Eastern Europe” project in 2017, in celebration of the Year of the Avant-Garde.
With the publication of this thematically composed selection of works by Ewa Guderian-Czaplińska, we aim to show the author’s extraordinary perspicacity, her somewhat perverse approach to research, her unrivalled knowledge of the problems and artists she studied, sharp intelligence, and openness to dialogue. Those who knew her will find in these works the wit, candour, and joie de vivre for which Ewa was so well known.