PREMIERE 19 MARCH 2021 MAIN STAGE
TIME: 80 MIN
Dramatyczny Theatre in Wałbrzych (Poland) is a home for the new and emergent dramaturgy, the venue is well known across country for its social issues orientation. From March 2021 Theater starts a new series of projects exploring industrial heritage of Europe – taking as a example it’s home town – Wałbrzych. We invite you to take part in the first activity – the premiere of DESPERATELY SEEKING A BIOGRAPHY on March 19th which will be streamed on platform live.teatr.walbrzych.pl in English.
The show kicks off the activities of the multifaceted PORCELAIN IS A WOMAN project, whose main artistic focus will be the large-scale production of porcelain.
A now-defunct factory that provided work and shaped the identity of the local society serves as a pretext for making a story about people who have been overlooked in the modern-day historical narrative of the town. The theater seeks to revive the memory of the unsung heroes of the local Wałbrzych society—the porcelain factory workers. We are eyewitnesses to a reconsolidation of the Walbrzych identity after years of struggle with the effects of poor economic circumstances. The public narratives still often return to “black gold”—the coal on which the lion’s share of the economy rests. The Monument to the Memory of Wałbrzych Mining has been erected in town and the post-mining areas have been revitalized. Meanwhile, dust settles where the porcelain factory once stood, even though porcelain production was the town’s second economic force (“the white gold of Wałbrzych”). We are seeing the slow erasure of memory about these spaces, and as a result, about the people who worked there.
DESPERATELY SEEKING A BIOGRAPHY is a play which tries to render the work atmosphere, the rise and fall of the Wałbrzych porcelain factories. The performance is being created as part of the activities of the Collective for Håøya Island — Julia Baran (photographer, theater workshop participant), Janina Chochłakiewicz (teacher, theater workshop participant), Joanna Łaganowska (actor), Nikola Olszak (theater pedagogue), Tomasz Jękot (dramaturg, literary director), Mikołaj Krzeszowiec (actor), Seb Majewski (author of the script, art director), and Krzysztof Popiołek (director). The script is dedicated to Majka Parczewska and Janusz Byszewski—the creators and curators of the Creative Education Lab at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw.
The artists would like to demonstrate that an attempt to build the historical identity of Wałbrzych without regard for the women’s narratives is simply incomplete and falsified. The “other half of history” remains out of reach. The porcelain factory workers have no monuments, and their story will vanish in tandem with the collapse of the buildings where they only recently pursued their careers. DESPERATELY SEEKING A BIOGRAPHY is a play whose task is to strike up a conversation about the town’s lost heritage. The performance will take the form of a mockumentary. Historical facts and myths will collide. The faded memories of the participants in events in the factories will provide a canvas for capturing such important moments for the life of the town as the strikes in August 1980 and the economic transformations of the 90s. Feeling the overwhelming need to retrieve the history of the “white gold,” the artists seek to generate a space for exchanges of experience between all those for whom the fates of the Wałbrzych porcelain is important. To this end, they have begun a collection of “unwanted,” often partial porcelain sets from Wałbrzych households, and have listened to individual testimonies of former factory workers or their loved ones.
The Dramatyczny Theater in Wałbrzych would like to reconstruct a lost HER-story and level out the enormous lack of female representation in the tales of the city. The PORCELAIN IS A WOMAN project is a part of the WOMEN’S YEAR celebrations in Wałbrzych. The activities focused around the subject of porcelain involve both creating artistically exciting repertoire items and activating the local society.
DESPERATELY SEEKING A BIOGRAPHY is tied to the series of international activities in the “History of Disappearance—the Deconstruction of Memory on Stage” project, based on collaboration between the Norwegian Theatre Academy (NTA) / Østfold University College, the Jerzy Szaniawski Dramatyczny Theatre in Wałbrzych and the Museum of Metallurgy in Chorzów, and carried out by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute.