Cezary Studniak on 36. Stage Songs Review

"As we created the programme, I strived to put the actor and the song in the limelight. I wanted to bring out the song's theatrical qualities and show its role on the stage," Cezary Studniak, a newly appointed Artistic Director, lets in on the programme of 36. Stage Songs Review, which is to be held from 20–29 March. The tickets are on sales from Saturday 7. February.

  • Cezary Studniak, Artistic Director, with Monika Strzępka and Tomasz Wygoda while presenting this year\'s Stage Song Review programme / phot. Tomasz Walków

    Cezary Studniak, Artistic Director, with Monika Strzępka and Tomasz Wygoda while presenting this year\'s Stage Song Review programme / phot. Tomasz Walków


"The song in the theatre is now just as important as the spoken word," said Cezary Studniak. This year's Stage Songs Review will feature several attractions, including the Stage Song Contest and Off Stream (as usual) together with films and discussion panels (new). The audience will also be able to attend open workshops conducted by the artists.

Artists on war

The Capitol Theatre will host a number of artists from all corners of the world, including Russia, Ukraine, the US, Belgium and even Brazil. "Unintentional as it was, war features as one of the most prominent themes of the festival," says Cezary Studniak.

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A discourse on war will begin with a Russian performance called "War" directed by Vladimir Pankov. The work has been co-produced by the Chekov International Theatre Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and SounDrama Studio. The performance was commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival Director Jonathan Mills to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Pankov presents a variety of perspectives on the war that changed Europe beyond any recognition by combining themes from the "Iliad" with notes by poet, traveller and soldier Nikolai Gumilov and excerpts from Richard Aldington's "Death of a Hero". "This is really powerful and shattering," says Cezary Studniak. The performance is scheduled for 21. March.

The themes of war can also be found in "Little Fool" directed by Jerzy Bielunas. The performance is based on Svetlana Vasilenko's novel depicting the life of a secret rocket military base, the arms race and the impending in the wake of the Cuban crisis. Vasilenko, a Soviet officer's daughter, was six at the time. The script also combines quotes from Svetlana Alekseyvitch, John Hersey, W.M. Miller and Arseniy Tarkovski as well as adverts promoting post-apocalyptic computer games (on 27. March).

Seven anarchy-minded girls from Ukraine, or the "Dakh Daughters Band: Roses" will not shy away from difficult problems, either. Impudent, arrogant and simply magnificent, they take no prisoners and are akin to Tiger Lillies in their ability to tell compelling stories about reality. They scream, sing, beat the drums and combine rock tunes with Ukrainian fold songs. They will take the stage on 26. March.

The Finale Concert: PPA "Great Speeches" will be directed by Radosław Rychcik. "The play is going to tackle themes vital for the contemporary world," recaps Cezary Studniak. It will feature celebrated singers starring politicians and world leaders in their peace promoting addresses. It is going to examine ideas that have changed the course of history and will focus more on peace as well, which remains of utmost importance at the time of social and political upheaval. The concert is expected to follow the Oscar gala convention and will be staged twice on 27. March: at 4.00 p.m. and 8.30 p.m.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, There's Going to Be a War" is the gala concert directed by Monika Strzępka. "I wanted spare a thought on what we are going to miss the most in our lives in case war really breaks out," says Monika Strzępka. "I'm hoping it won't be Swiss francs loans that we'll be hankering after in the end." We were inspired by a concert that took place in Berlin in 1945 as the Red Army were advancing towards the city. Despite the black-out, the Berlin Opera House turned on the lights to stage Wagner, and hampers filled with cyanide capsule were waiting for the audience at the exit.” The concert to celebrate "the end of the times as we know it" will feature Katarzyna Figura, Marianna Linde, Małgorzata Niemirska, Dorota Pomykała, Gołda Tencer, Mariusz Benoit, Marek Piekarczyk, Michał Szpak. They will be accompanied by an orchestra and children's choir in military uniforms (gala concert on 28. and 29. March).

Premières

The Stage Song Review also features a number of unique events, including several special premières.

The Wroclaw Commenting Choir will open this year's Stage Song Review and will also be its first première. The residents of Wroclaw conducted by Marek Kocot will be singing to Rafała Karasiewicz's music to share their thoughts on what is interesting, beautiful and wise in Wroclaw without sparing anything that is boring, ugly and stupid, either. The choir will be conducted by Tomasz Leszczyński. The Wroclaw Commenting Choir is scheduled to perform on 20. March at Dom na wodzie.

"Melancholy/Violetta Villas" directed by Tomasz Wygoda and Agnieszka Olsten is a co-production by the Capitol Theatre and the Nowy Theatre from Łódz. "Violetta Villas provoked extreme responses, ranging from fascination to dislike and sheer hatred," says Tomasz Wygoda. "Her life is a ready-made script: a girl from a small town who makes an incredible career and then squanders her talent and dies in oblivion.” The performance is based on Artur Pałyga's text entitled "And nobody recognised me". "She was despised as mere kitsch, for her looks, she was mocked and her repertoire was badly suited," says Wygoda. "Deeply wounded by other people, she sought friendship with animals.” The performance combines excerpts from Pałyga's work, several Violetta's songs and dancers playing the animals which the artist was surrounded with. The performance is scheduled for 21. March.

"The Ball, or Get-Together. Variété plays" is another première at this year's Stage Song Review.Written and directed by Jacek Gębura, the performance gives a new lease of life to songs once performed by a Polish New Wave group called Variété (to appear on stage) and written by Grzegorz Kaźmierczak (performance on 23. March).

Gaba Kulka and her father, violinist Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, will also feature as this year's review première.The artist is going to present her new repertoire which was specially arranged for a string quartet. "We're going to have a family get-together, full of rock-like sparkle and reminiscent of the classics," says Cezary Studniak (24. March).

Star performers

Skubas

This year's review is going to abound in surprising, original and crazy artists. Skubas, or Radosław Skubaja, is coming with his band to present the best Polish alternative and popular culture has to offer (21. March).

Katarzyna Groniec will give an unusual and avant-garde twist to Agnieszka Osiecka's songs in her new recital called "Zoo" (22. March).

Maja Kleszcz is going to give a solo recital. Her purely vocal "The Hermit" project focuses on people who consciously choose solitude and withdraw from life. "The Hermit" is a result of Maja Kleszcz's several years of collaboration with director Agata Duda-Gracz (22. March).

Zap Mama (Marie Daulne) is going to present her new soul-inspired project "Electric FlaSH" to send exotic and unusual vibes to the audience. The artist combines meticulous arrangements with spontaneous contributions from the audience (22. March).

Cory McAbee, an American actor, screenwriter, director and draughtsman, is planning to surprise the Polish audience with his new special première performance. "He is completely unpredictable, let him sit by his magic little laptop and the show is bound to begin," says Cezary Studniak (24. March).

The amazing Brazilians from "Barbatuques: Individuo corpo colectivo" are going to sing and play on their own bodies. They can easily do without traditional instruments, since all they need are their own legs, hands, belies, faces and skin. They are also going to run a vocal workshop (25. March, workshop from 10.00 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.), performance at 6.00 p.m.).

Vinicio Capossela, an anarchist, dreamer and drifter, is going to present his beautifully arranged songs in a performance with his band. The atmosphere he creates is very much akin to that of Tom Waits's or Paolo Conti's performances (25. March).

Those who love Broadway and cabaret are in for a real treat from Ute Lemper as she takes the stage on the last day of the festival. In her programme entitled "Last Tango in Berlin" she is going to recap her thirty-year-long career as an artist. The audience is going to enjoy songs by Brecht, Weil, Edith Piaf and Leo Ferrre as well as Lemper's own compositions set to poems by Pablo Neruda and texts by Charles Bukowski.

Young singers

As many as 123 people have signed up for this year's Stage Song Contest. This is a record breaking number. Hosted by Grzegorz Halama, the second stage in the contest will be conducted on 20. March. The winner will in turn be announced on 27. March.

Young singing actors are going to take the stage on 23. March. Cezary Studniak has invited young artists from the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Krakow with their diploma performance entitled "A Diploma form Space." "I was worried that young actors are singing less. Luckily, it's not the case. These young guys are the best evidence to prove this. Not only can they sing, they also do it to perfection," says Cezary Studniak.

Open long into the night

The festival club will be open to the audience on the Capitol Theatre's second floor. Michał Litwiniec, the club's Music Manager, will be organising concerts, meetings and dance events which are going to start at 10.00 p.m. and continue long into the night. The programme provides for a number of attractions, including a Silent Party for those who love to out their headphones on.

The festival programme also offers three discussion panels on stage singing. The panels will be hosted by Jolanta Kowalska, a theatre researcher and TVP journalist.

Actors sing both for the stage and for the cinema, which is why the festival audience will be able to enjoy films on music-related people and events. Archive materials from previous edition of the Wroclaw Stage Song Review will be played round-the-clock on screens put up at the Capitol's yard.

As usual, a huge surprise is waiting for those who attend the Off Stream shows. There will be 12 performances. So far, only scripts have been revealed. They will have their premières as the festival progresses. The authors of the winning show will be presented with a Tukan Off statuette and a 10-thousand-PLN award. The winner will be announced on 27. March during the festival's grand finale.

Agnieszka Kołodyńska