In the autumn of 2006, it was revealed that Wojtek Ziemilski's grandfather, a notable citizen of the city of Wroclaw in Poland, was for many years a collaborator of the communist secret police. The family has not recovered from the shock, and is trying to understand the full story. Ziemilski's answer to this situation is a performance in the form of a lecture, combining personal narration, historical facts, contemporary choreography, and small and great narratives.
It is an attempt to confront his artistic choices with the history on which he had no influence. This lecture-performance is a combination of various forms of public address and artistic expression with elements of personal confession, academic lecture, video art, and contemporary choreography. Theater intermingles with reality, private narration with historical commentary—all to cope with the painful problem of memory and the manipulations it undergoes.
Wojtek Ziemilski is a theater director and visual artist. He graduated from the theater directing course at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal. After returning to Poland in 2008, his first projects earned him media attention as “the hot new name of Warsaw theater” (Gazeta Wyborcza), and “the rising star of Polish culture” (Duży Format). He teaches contemporary approaches to theater making with a particular focus on devising techniques, the new dance’s (so-called “non-danse”) input into theatricality, and its use on stage. Ziemilski is one of the first artists in Poland to investigate rule-based devising. He is the author of the popular contemporary art blog: http://new-art.blogspot.com.
Small Narration (Mała Narracja) had its Polish premiere at Teatr Studio, Warsaw, in March 2010. It has since been performed in over a dozen cities in Poland and abroad, including Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Munich, and Vilnius. It was selected as part of the showcase of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute of the best Polish performances of 2010, and to the Polska Arts program in Edinburgh, 2012. It was also translated into French and staged independently at La Bellone, Brussels.
“Small Narration is for me, among other things, a piece about memory. Memory is a space where the pain of absence is felt most acutely. Especially when we think about people, we remember a body, contact, its physicality, and at the same time our whole memory is connected to their absence. It’s based on the body not being here anymore.”