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XIII Edition Europe Theatre Prize

Poland’s most significant contribution to contemporary European and world theatre was unquestionably made by Jerzy Grotowski, a figure who has now become a legend.  His theories on theatre and the actor’s role have revolutionised the very concepts of both, inspiring the work of many of his followers and marking a watershed in theatrical research: a “point of no return” with respect to previous ideas of making and experiencing theatre. It is not by chance that the 2009 Europe Theatre Prize, now in its thirteenth edition, is being held in Wroclaw in Poland, precisely in Grotowski Year, dedicated to the director by UNESCO.  2009 marks two important commemorations: the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Teatr Laboratorium and the tenth anniversary of Jerzy Grotowski’s death.

This thirteenth edition has been conceived together with the Polish Ministry of Culture and the Mayor and City of Wrocław. The event has been organised by the Grotowski Institute.  Apropos of this, I cannot help but associate our event with Grotowski, remembering with pride and a touch of nostalgia the memorable open dialogue between the Polish master and the great director Peter Brook, which took place during the second Europe Theatre Prize in 1989. The prize awarded to Peter Brook initiated a practice that has since become one of the special and most appreciated characteristics of the Europe Prize, namely the in-depth study of the work of the artist who is honoured with it.  The dialogue between Brook and Grotowski was the first of a long series of meetings and encounters that revolved around the prize winners and, given the “mythical” stature of these two artists, it is seen as something of a milestone in the activities of study and analysis that have taken place in subsequent editions and which are the distinctive feature of the Europe Prize. It was then that the series of volumes containing the proceedings of the Prize was launched, which preserve the various facets of a memory of contemporary theatre that is anything but secondary. For all these reasons, I am extremely glad that the thirteenth edition of the Europe Prize is taking place along with all the other celebrations being held during “Grotowski Year” in Wroclaw, the city where Grotowski laid the foundations for his research that then spread to the four corners of Europe and the world. I am convinced that our event will add to these celebrations: on the one hand, because I am sure that Grotowski’s legacy is brought alive, in various forms, every time the different schools of modern theatre have the chance to meet and exchange ideas; on the other, because, as I mentioned earlier, the study days held during the Prize will include a colloquium symbolically entitled Acting before and after Grotowski organised by the Polish section of the Association Internationale des Critiques de Théâtre in association with the Grotowski Institute. An event that could provide much food for thought on the legacy we have received from Jerzy Grotowski’s theatre work.  The awarding of the 13th Europe Theatre Prize to Krystian Lupa, confirms Poland’s pivotal role on the European theatre scene. A pupil of Tadeusz Kantor, and himself a teacher of many artists – among whom we should mention Krzysztof Warlikowski, 10th Europe Prize New Theatrical Realities – Krystian Lupa combines an academic training with an inexhaustible creative vein that has always been present in and distinguished his work, and has enabled him in the course of his career to take on and ingeniously adapt for the theatre the works of classic literary authors such as Robert Musil, Feyodor Dostoevsky, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Bernhardt, Anton Cechov, Werner Schwab, Mikhail Bulgakov, Friedrich Nietzsche. The tribute to the Polish director will consist in three performances: Factory 2, his 2008 production featuring the Stary Teatr of Cracow, and inspired by Andy Warhol; The Presidents by Werner Schwab; and Persona, inspired by, among others, Simone Weil and Marilyn Monroe, in a world preview. A meeting and encounter with the prize winner will complete the tribute to Krystian Lupa. Regarding the Europe Prize New Theatrical Realities, the Jury (assisted by the Council composed of about 300 experts on European theatre) noticed that the names of some candidates often recurred, that these candidates were awarded the highest number of votes in previous editions of the Prize held between 1996 and 2001, and that they were all of the highest calibre and distinguished by different artistic characteristics. Hence a decision was made to award the 11th Prize to the first five directors or theatrical realities that, as well as being firmly established on the international scene, received the highest votes for this edition. They are: Guy Cassiers; Pippo Delbono; Rodrigo García; Árpád Schilling; François Tanguy and the Théâtre du Radeau.

This choice was made according to the regulations governing the Prize that indicate it as an opportunity for meetings and exchanges between diverse exponents of new European theatre”. It was also made with a view to introducing a new stage in the EPNTR and opening it up to a new generation of artists and groups that are either in the process of emerging or still not well known internationally, also to give a voice and visibility to candidates from minor countries. This year the Europe Prize New Theatrical Realities has been increased from €20,000 to €30,000, as the Jury and promoters desired. Moving on to this year’s rich and varied programme, Guy Cassiers will be staging Sunken Red, the production

directed by him that has already become a “cult” piece, and Phalanx, where his play Le Tryptique du pouvoir is transformed into an installation by Kurt d’Haeseleer. This is a world preview and the complete work will be presented in 2010. Pippo Delbono will present Racconto di un viaggio teatrale: nelle zone sconosciute tra la rabbia e l’amore, la solitudine e l’incontro, la costrizione e la libertà, a work created especially for the Europe Theatre Prize, along with two of his most intense and meaningful productions: Il tempo degli assassini and Questo buio feroce. Rodrigo García will stage Accidens: Matar para comer, now to be considered a “classic” gem in his repertoire, Arrojad mis cenizas sobre Mickey, and a new performance conceived for this edition of the Europe Theatre Prize. A work in which Stefano Scodanibbio and Polish actors will participate to stress – as if there were any need – the climate of “cultural contamination” and exchange that exists between the different theatre traditions at every edition of the Prize, of which that climate is a crucial element. Árpád Schilling will present Eloge de l’escapologiste, a happening set in Budapest, with a live commentary by this versatile Hungarian director.  François Tanguy and the Théâtre du Radeau will take the audience on a fantastical, poetic journey in Ricercar, a performance that will draw on, among others, the works of Dante Alighieri, Giacomo Leopardi, Dino Campana, Ezra Pound, Luigi Pirandello, Franz Kafka and Georg Büchner. Meetings and encounters are planned to complete the tribute to the winners of the New Theatrical Realities section. Within the framework of the events connected with the Prize a section will be devoted to the host country.  An Eye on Poland will feature some important activities, including the above-mentioned colloquium Acting before and after Grotowski.

This year the prize-giving ceremony will be directed by Jerzy Bielunacs in collaboration with Emanuela Pistone. In addition, the programme of shows will include a marionette performance at the Lalek Theatre, which will host the prize events, and Lincz, directed by Agnieszka Olsten, in order to immerse the Prize’s international public in the lively theatre atmosphere of Wroclaw. I would also like to announce that the well-known sculptor Krzysztof M. Bednarski – who collaborated with Jerzy Grotowski – has presented us with a sculpture/symbol dedicated to the Prize, which will be given to this year’s winners during the prize giving ceremony. During the Prize, as usual, parallel events will take place that have been organised by the bodies associated with the Prize: the General Assembly of the Union des Théâtres de l’Europe; Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Association Internationale des Critiques de Théâtre; Young Critics’ Seminar organised by the Association Internationale des Critiques de Théâtre; Meeting of the Editorial Committee of “The Critical Stages” organised by the Association Internationale des Critiques de Théâtre; Meeting of the members of the Instituto Internacional del Teatro del Mediterráneo; Meeting of the members of Team Network; General Assembly of the Association of Polish Theatre Critics; Board meeting of the Associazione Italiana dei Critici di Teatro. I believe this edition of the Prize will provide many opportunities for dialogue and exchange, given the personalities of the prize-winning artists and the happy coincidence that has brought us to Wrocław, where Jerzi Grotowski’s extraordinary theatrical journey began and where, I think, the Europe Theatre Prize will draw new lifeblood for continuing its own journey into theatre, exploring its meaning, becoming familiar with its new cultures, and discovering new horizons. In this city, with its extremely animated theatre scene, the driving creative forces in European theatre will meet, along with journalists, theatre critics, theatre and festival directors, students from Polish and international theatre schools and academies, and theatre lovers. Everyone will have the chance to watch the shows on the programme, to attend the meetings with the prize winners, and also to share a remarkable cultural and human experience, surrounded by the warm and welcoming inhabitants of Wroclaw. I wish to thank the Mayor of Wrocław, Rafal Dutkiewicz, whose strong political will enable this thirteenth edition of the Europe Theatre Prize to be held in Wroclaw in 2009 to celebrate the Grotowski Year declared by UNESCO.  My thanks also to the Polish Ministry of Culture for all its support in organising the event in Poland.

My heartfelt thanks must also go to the director of the Grotowski Institute, Jarosław Fret, to Joanna Klass and all the staff at the Grotowski Institute for their welcome and active collaboration in realising this edition of the Prize. Lastly, I would like to thank the staff of the Europe Theatre Prize for their commitment and enthusiastic support, and all those who in the course of the years have believed in that Europe made up “of beautiful things, of human things, of things that concern the theatre as much as any other activity of the human spirit” that was so important to Giorgio Strehler, 3rd Europe Theatre Prize winner and founder of the Union des Théâtres de l’Europe.