Statement of Tomasz Kireńczuk, the Programme Manager of the 9th Dialog-Wrocław ITF of 27 September 2017 on changes to the festival programme
The Dialog – Wrocław International Theatre Festival was always supposed to present the most important phenomena of contemporary artistic theatre in Poland and around the world. By inviting plays created in various cultural contexts and artistic traditions, Krystyna Meissner tried to capture important contemporary issues by criticising the surrounding reality. The Dialog – Wrocław Festival shied away from difficult topics and radical artistic propositions, on the basis of the assumption that good and important theatre will withstand a confrontation with the audience. The aim of the Festival was always to make this confrontation possible.
The symbiosis of the theatre festival and reality is especially important today, in the times of growing social and political conflicts. In a world marked by pessimism, where community-oriented thinking and acceptance of differences are superseded by nationalism, xenophobia and populism, it is our duty as animators of cultural life to make an artistic event such as a theatre festival public in order to reveal and discuss the fears which determine our social life.
I am therefore convinced that all seven plays featured in the main programme of the 9th Dialog – Wrocław International Theatre Festival are important statements regarding our present times, which thanks to juxtaposition form an original story.
There is one more Polish play, without which the story presented by the programme of the 9th edition of the Festival would be incomplete, namely Klątwa (The Curse) directed by Oliver Frljic presented by the cast of the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw. An uncomfortable and brutal play, directly affecting the moods of the audience, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of the political and ideological disputes in Poland. Because of that, we could not imagine the Dialog – Wrocław Festival without this play. Knowing that in the contemporary political climate, the performance of The Curse could not be financed from a subsidy from the public funding, we came to the conclusion that if we want to present this play, we might be forced to find new, perhaps even uncomfortable solutions. As a result, we decided to finance the performance of this play from the revenues generated by ticket sales.
Despite this, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage decided to withdraw its funds 18 days before the start of the Festival, creating a funding gap in the Festival’s budget amounting to 500,000 PLN. The decision of the Ministry made at such point, in spite of earlier approval of the updated programme of the Festival and sending a subsidy agreement generated by the Ministry for signing makes it impossible for us to find funding from other sources amounting to the sum of the withdrawn subsidy. In this situation, we were forced to make a drastic decision and cancel the performances of Polish plays featured in the main programme, which were supposed to be financed from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage subsidy. Therefore, we are sorry to inform that we will not be able to present the Enemy of the People directed by Jan Klata of the National Old Theatre in Krakow, Hymn do miłości (Hymn to Love) directed by Marta Górnicka, a co-production of the Polish Theatre in Poznań and the Chór Kobiet Foundation in Warsaw and Maxim Gorki Theater, as well as Jeden gest (One Gesture) directed by Wojtek Ziemilski of the Nowy Theatre in Warsaw.
Additionally, we would like to emphasise that we perceive the attitude of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage towards the festival as purely political action aiming at limiting the freedom of artistic expression, an example of economic censorship and an attempt to intimidate the theatre community in Poland. It is obvious to us that the situation we found ourselves in is a direct result of attempting to present The Curse during the Festival.
We maintain the position that an attempt at eliminating artists and phenomena which – due to political and ideological reasons – are disliked by the authorities should be met with unequivocal protest. As a result of the withdrawal of the ministerial subsidy, this year’s Dialog Festival became painfully incomplete. We are deeply convinced that despite this, it should take place, if only as to serve as a platform for important discussions about art in the time of crisis, about freedom and solidarity, as well as what the patronage of the state and public theatre should be and – most importantly – whether dialogue and Dialog are still possible at all.
Dialog – Wrocław International Theatre Festival
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