Dialog-Wrocław International Theatre Festival

When in 2001 Krystyna Meissner was organising the first edition of the Dialog-Wrocław International Theatre Festival, her goal was to bring about a meeting of theatre artists of the East and the West, a confrontation of languages, styles, aesthetics and topics, which set trends in theatre of the still divided Europe. The principle of the Festival has been simple from the very beginning: each day of Dialog-Wrocław means a dialogue of two productions with a common topic, aesthetics, direction of stage experiments etc. Initially, the pairs were made up of one Polish and one foreign production; with time the question of “origin” became less important than the topics and problems tackled by the productions. From a place of confrontation of theatres from different parts of Europe Dialog-Wrocław was transformed into a place where the most important problems of the present were discussed from the perspective of artists with different cultural and theatrical backgrounds.

Thus from the very beginning Dialog-Wrocław has been not only a place for presenting theatrical productions, but primarily a space for free exchange of views and for a discussion about contemporary problems. Artists and intellectuals invited to the Festival have tried – taking theatrical productions as their point of departure – to answer questions of fundamental significance from the perspective of our communal co-existence: Who are we? Where are we going? What are we afraid of? What should we oppose? The Festival has consistently promoted experimenting artists who in their often avant-garde and subversive productions have demonstrated the vitality of theatre as a discipline of art, and by touching upon difficult, often painful topics, have pointed out that theatre is an important element of the public debate.

The Dialog-Wrocław Festival brought to Poland, often for the first time, the most distinguished international theatre directors like Christoph Marthaler, Oskaras Korsunovas, Robert Wilson, Antônio Araújo, Árpád Schilling, Luk Perceval, Alvis Hermanis, René Pollesch, Simon McBurney, Johan Simons, Andreas Kriegenburg, William Kentdrige, Rabih Mroué, Ivo van Hove, Dmitrij Krymov, Romeo Castellucci, Emma Dante, Oliver Frljić, Alain Platel, Susanne Kennedy and Brett Bailey. The Festival has also been a venue for the presentation of productions by the most important Polish directors including Krystian Lupa, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Jerzy Grzegorzewski, Jan Klata, Grzegorz Bral, Paweł Miśkiewicz, Michał Zadara, Barbara Wysocka and Radosław Rychcik. All these artists create theatre that not only is original in its form, but also – perhaps above all – one that is a place of encounters and confrontations important to the spectators.

From the very beginning of its existence the Festival has been undergoing significant changes, like the ones affecting the social and political reality in Europe and the world. However, it has tried to have its finger on the pulse of these changes, trying through theatre and in the theatre to answer questions about what kind of the world we live in and what we can expect in the near future. The most important task of the Festival has been, invariably, to create conditions for an encounter and confrontation with theatre, which is definitely something more than just an aesthetic experience.