En avant, marche! – singing till the end

It is a warm mid October evening in Wroclaw, as I make my way to Teatr Polski’s main stage; Jerzy Grzegorzewski, named after the highly celebrated Polish director. I’m here for the premiere of the 9th International Theater Festival Dialog-Wroclaw. Made possible by the team of the European Capital of Culture 2016 organisation, as part of their ongoing efforts to shape Wroclaw’s cultural agenda. The show I’m about to see is; En avant marche, by the Belgian theater group: les ballets c de la B. I have been told, this will be the last live performance of En avant marche, and so I can hardly conceal my excitement about seeing this celebrated show on stage, this last time.

Walking into the famously named theater the first thing I notice are the minimalistic black and white paintings decorating the white walls giving the theater a sense of timeless quality. It’s pretty much a packed house, with a colorful mix of visitors, some I would typecast as the classical theater visitor; dressed for the occasion looking very fancy. Some as the younger artsy types you expect to see at such events, and then there was me. Someone, who found her way here, because of sheer curiosity; not dressed for the occasion. But that doesn’t matter. Theater is for everyone, and that’s the inclusive vibe I feel peering around at the theater guests, conversing in the lobby. In Wroclaw everybody can afford an evening at the theater, with ticket prices starting from 10 zloty, to enjoy an excellent evening out in this city.

Before the play I had a conversation with a friend about the show’s topic, which I take as being closely tied to the goal of the festival, to start a conversation about what the role of the people can mean in their community. The main character of the show is subjected to a disease which causes him to lose his position as a trumpeter in the fanfare he has belonged to, what seems for a long time, and has lent his identity from, but when he loses his ability to play the trumpet he is faced with dealing with the lose ends of his life, such as his wife and his secret girlfriend. I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the show, which left me with an unsettling emotion of loneliness, but surprisingly unafraid of the impending death, that awaits him as well as, us all. En avant marches main character has a bigger than life stage presence, his voice vibrates through the theatre room, as he cites song lyrics, making you feel very small and totally engulfed by his dramatic energy. In the typical style of Dutch and Belgian theatre, there is no real storyline, but this allows the audience to be overwhelmed by the energy of the actors, and submerge in the musically loud, and brilliantly performed music.

It’s very exciting for me to be part of this festival, as a blogger. In part, because being new to this country and city, experiencing the cultural atmosphere of the place I am living in feels vital. But also as a European I want to support the artistic expression, and show solidarity with the, “Onward but where to?!” slogan of the festival. Tomasz Kirenczuk, the festival programme director explained in his opening speech, how the festival has been faced with an unexpected challenge, and has been caught in a financial crisis, due to a last minute cancellation of funds, by the ministry of culture in Poland. Because of this the festival can’t showcase all the theater pieces by Polish theater makers, it had originally intended to. Personally, this has left me curious to see these Polish productions, the festival had planned to program, to encourage the audience engaging in a dialog!

Fortunately for us theater lovers the festival is just getting started and there is a lot to see on the theater stages, across Wroclaw, and in Krakow. I hope you guys will join me in seeing, as many theater spectacles as possible, this week!

Blogger Bio:
I’m an aspiring writer, fascinated by the art of storytelling. I moved from Amsterdam to Wroclaw for love and have been experiencing the culture of the city, getting to know local artists and their work. I will be blogging, about my experiences at the Dialogue festival. You can find me on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/MIACOTH