After stagings at the 2011 Taiwan International Festival of Arts and at the 2012 Seoul Performing Arts Festival (SPAF), in June 2016 Krzysztof Warlikowski’s show (A)pollonia returned to Asia for the third time. This time the outstanding production of Warsaw’s Nowy Theatre was shown in Tianjin and Harbin in China.
In the atmosphere of growing interest in Polish theatre among the Chinese audiences, sparked by the huge success of Krystian Lupa’s shows Persona. Marilyn and Woodcutters in China, Culture.pl in cooperation with the Polish Institute in Beijing and the Tianjin Grand Theatre for the first time brought to Chinese theatres a performance directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski. His (A)pollonia was staged a total of four times during the Polish theatre season at the Tianjin Grand Theatre and the Harbin Grand Theatre.
Krzysztof Warlikowski is currently one of the most acclaimed theatre directors in Poland and in Europe. The fact that during his studies in Kraków he was a student of Krystian Lupa, who is already well known to the Chinese viewers, additionally raised their interest in his show. Warlikowski has worked with directors such as Peter Brook and Ingmar Bergman, staging performances in France, Germany and the USA. Since 2008 he has been the artistic director of the Nowy Theatre in Warsaw, whose new headquarters in Warsaw’s Mokotów district opened in April 2016.
(A)pollonia is an outstanding performance about sacrifice and dedication – voluntary and compulsory – of an individual for their homeland, based on texts by Aeschylus, Euripides, Hanna Krall, and J.M. Coetzee. Warlikowski raises questions about difficult choices and sacrificing one’s life for others, at the same time attempting to answer the fundamental question: do people have to kill other people in order to survive?
Like other performances presented during the Polish theatre season, (A)pollonia also met with a favorable response from audiences and critics. Jia Yi from the Chinese portal Good Theatre wrote:
For several years now, I have been hearing about the famous Polish theatre director Krzysztof Warlikowski, so I finally decided to travel to Tianjin to see (A)pollonia. From the moment I left the theatre until now, the sounds and images of the show still echo in my head, growing even richer with the time. (...)
So far, this is certainly the most influential drama presented in China this year. In recent years we have been hearing more and more about the leading European theatrical productions, and to put it bluntly, it was only thanks to them that we have finaly learned how to make theatre. (...)
Indeed, (A)pollonia triggered an unprecedented discussion and reflection. The audience's interpretation soon went a lot deeper, moving from the category of sacrifice to such issues as nation, religion, art, country or humanity.
Author: Jia Yi, Good Theatre
Written by EP, translated by AW, 19th May 2016