Genius Loci Festival

Sunday, September 10, 2017 - Sunday, September 24, 2017

  • Sunday, September 10, 2017 - Sunday, September 24, 2017

Locations Speak

Extraordinary spaces, fascinating people and incredible stories revealing Kraków and Małopolska’s historical and cultural wealth… The Genius Loci theatre festival is here!

“You don’t enter a theatre with impunity,” wrote Tadeusz Kantor. What happens when theatre applies this impunity to break down stage barriers and appear in seemingly entirely unlikely places? Answers come during the Genius Loci Festival (10-24 September), organised by the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre and the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre as part of the city-wide project Kraków: The City of Stanisław Wyspiański.

Spirit of a place

“The duty of people of theatre, the duty of cultural institutions in general, is to create new references points, to search for audiences and meet them where they least expect it. When hitherto predictable reality is suddenly imbued with fantasy and artistic imagination, the clash itself provokes fresh thought,” stresses the event’s artistic curator of the festival Bartosz Szydłowski.

The Genius Loci Festival, featuring premiere spectacles and installations, follows the ideas of Stanisław Wyspiański, patron of 2017 in Poland, whose works created during the Young Poland era boldly intertwined European culture with the local flavour of Kraków and Małopolska. What kinds of journeys – both in the geographical and symbolic sense – will Poland’s young directors take us on?

In Kraków

We start our journey at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre with the National Reading of “The Cruise”. The play, directed by Bartosz Szydłowski, is based on the screenplay for Marek Piwowski’s cult film of 1970, mocking the political and social realities of communist Poland. Professional actors are joined on stage by amateurs selected during casting sessions. If you’re after different thrills, the organisers are also hosting night-time tours of the venue as part of the Lost in Theatre project – a perfect opportunity to visit mysterious rooms and hidden passages and corners usually inaccessible to the public.

The unusual setting of the Institut of Pathomorphology of the Jagiellonian University presents Katarzyna Kalwat’s Landshaft. Anatomy Lesson, exploring the subject of medicine and its ties with the arts. “This site, usually used for procedures such as post-mortems, put a certain slant on how we interact with the stage. We also explore anatomy, except in our case it’s the anatomy of actors confronting certain subjects,” promises the director.

Jakub Skrzywanek’s Live the City // Leave the City installation at the Szczepański Square takes us to the world of street theatre and performance. During the meeting with artists, Cracovians will be able to form fresh opinions about their city and join in with creating a sculpture/installation acting as a reconstruction of their collective memory.

Piotr Ratajczak takes us on a journey on the Vistula on board the Nimfa, set in the middle of an English stag weekend. Invasion, skilfully intertwining theatre with real life, takes a humorous look at the sons of Albion who visit Kraków in their droves every summer.

The performance Simona, Where Are You?, directed by Tomasz Cymerman, is staged at Łaźnia Nowa Theatre. It was inspired by the biography of Simona Kossak, a strong, independent woman who followed her own path throughout her life: going against the family’s artistic tradition, instead of becoming the “fourth Kossak” painter she moved to the Białowieża Forest to dedicate her life to studying its flora and fauna and becoming an environmental activist.

Krzysztof Garbaczewski’s The Heart of the Bold comes to the Kościuszko Mound to tell the story of the freedom fighter Tadeusz Kościuszko told through the perspective of Booker T. Washington, leader of the African American community at the turn of the 20th century. The crypts of the Orthodox Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God introduce Jerzy Nowosielski – brilliant artist and Orthodox thinker whose views were frequently considered heretical (Nowosielski. Being/Not/Subtle, dir. Anna Popiel). We also visit Nowa Huta, where the Utopia House – the former electrical school at the Szkolne housing estate – hosts Marek and Marcin Chlanda and their installation introducing the history of the site and the concept behind the school.

In Małopolska

Spectacles staged beyond Kraków as part of the festival promise to be equally fascinating. The need for social dialogue, and to redefine local stereotypes and myths of identity, collective dreams and phantasmagorias, are themes connecting works by young artists presented throughout Małopolska. The Maszycka Cave in the Ojców National Park hosts Marcin Wierzchowski’s Fathers retelling humankind’s violent history. In the Galician Village in Nowy Sącz, Jakub Roszkowski reaches for the history of the Galician slaughter of 1846 and explores the reasons behind the bloody peasant uprising (Slaughter), while in Zakopane Wojtek Klemm presents his outdoor spectacle Into the Fire! in which he asks whether Józef Kuraś AKA “Ogień” [“Fire” – trans.] – one of the leaders of the communist resistance soon after the World War II – was a great hero or perhaps a traitor.


“Places speak – we just have to listen. Spaces and locations are the starting point of our festival; thanks to artists, they reveal their vast theatrical performance potential,” promise festival organisers. Join us for this unforgettable journey along Kraków and Małopolska’s real and symbolic trails. Let yourself be led by genius loci!

(Justyna Skalska, "Karnet" magazine)

10-24 September
Organiser: Juliusz Słowacki Theatre

For whom: for seniors
Other: open air event
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