“History”, dir. Dorota Bator, as part of the Teatr na Faktach project at the Jerzego Grotowski Institute in Wrocław – Kamil Bujny wrote on the Stage for Everyone.
“To say and wait, do not explain, do not fall short” – the hero of production Dorota Batur admits in one of the scenes. It appears these words could serve as a mantra for the revised performance, as they perfectly express its essence. The director introduces her presentation in a way that constitutes a deification for storytelling – as an activity, meaning bearer, and platform for sharing human experiences. Therefore, her presentation is not so much about specific plots as it is about increasing the value of the narrative itself – as a value in and of itself.
Although it seems that the sensitivity category has been exploited a lot lately (thanks to the Nobel Prize Speech given by Olga Tokarczuk, and subsequently numerous reprints and analyzes of the ceremonial lecture), making the definition of this concept unclear, when watching Batur this word appears most often in my head. There is incredibly much tenderness in this performance, something that can be linked with delicacy, dexterity, and fairy tale. I don’t mean being naive or overly optimistic. Instead, I mean a certain kind of sensitivity to another person – in this case both the person telling (the actor) and the person listening (the viewer). In Historia, both of these issues (stories and listening) become problematic: it is difficult to determine who in this theater space is the carrier of eponymous stories, and who is the recipient. Although the actors, of course, tell viewers different stories (for example, about storytellers, three fairies, Fatima’s daughter, and three worms), for example using puppet theater (it suffices to remember the scenes in which a rope or foot was moved), But for many reasons, performers should not be viewed as sources of history so much as they should be seen as their repositories. The main factor for this viewpoint is not only the fact that the show was created as part of the Teatr na Faktach project (assuming it presents real events to real people – thus the creators become entrusted with someone’s experiences), but also the symbolic unity of viewers and actors. This is evidenced by the performers’ assertions, maintained throughout the show, that the role of the person telling and the person listening must be “abandoned” and in scenographic solutions. A long, thick rope was passed through the stage and audience space, tangling the chairs the spectators sat on, and – at one point – the actors. Although after taking the seat, the viewer realizes the meaning of the intent of the scenography (Katarzyna Leks), and over time this idea becomes more and more popular. In this case, the recipient appears to be more than an observer, as he is included in the story space presented as a participant – and thus is “tied” to the same rope as the artists. Everyone is involved in one narrative here, and it affects everyone in the same way: the performers are distinguished by theatrical activities, previously conducted interviews (documentary theater performances are created using the literal method), and the scenes by their assimilation.
The authors, by defining the theme of the oral message and emphasizing the meaning of kuldd, deal not only with the essence of speaking and storytelling, but also of listening. Recognizing another person’s story in the performance is presented as a shaping experience: “When you give a picture to someone, you change it, because you leave it in their head.” Every story we assimilate affects our lives in this perspective, which seems interesting in this case, because it refers in two ways to the production itself: as an example of documentary theater (thus preserving real experiences, showing non-fictional events) and theater. Absolutely. Through the use of various theater technologies, the director draws attention to the possibilities of presenting the concept of reality – in this approach, art becomes the space that fully values human stories and experiences. Although the performance consists of several secondary stories, after leaving the laboratory scene, there is not a single story in memory, but the sum of all the plot and the impression of the unusual “tortuous reality” present throughout the performance.