36th ULICA Festival
Friday, July 7, 2023 - Sunday, July 9, 2023
On the second weekend in July, Cracovians and visitors enjoy theatre performances out in the open, filling beautiful squares and picturesque streets throughout the city to create an enchanted space of reflection and joy.
Streets Filled with Theatre
The annual celebration of street theatre, prepared by KTO Theatre for the 36th time, is one of the most important events on Kraków’s cultural map of the summer. In early July, the city welcomes thousands of visitors arriving to enjoy street theatre from Poland and all over the globe, including Argentina, France, Spain, Hungary, Finland, Lithuania and Slovakia.
It all started thanks to Jerzy Zoń, director of KTO Theatre, who led the pioneering Street Theatre Festival in Jelenia Góra in the late 1980s.
In 1988, he transferred the events to Kraków as the artistic and conceptual director of the brand-new festival. Very soon, local audiences fell head-over-heels in love with the scenery, making the ULICA Festival one of the largest and most important events celebrating street theatre in our part of Europe.
In the nearly four decades that followed, Kraków’s Main Market Square has welcomed acts from Poland (Ósmego Dnia, Biuro Podróży, KTO, AKT, Strefa Ciszy, Pijana Sypialnia and Pinezka theatres), Spain (Kamchatka, Teatro Nucleo, Voala Project, Xarxa Teatre), France (Compagnie Jo Bithume, Generik Vapeur, G. Bistaki), Germany (Titanick Theater), Belgium (Tol Theater), Ukraine (Academic Voskresinnia Theatre in L’viv) and Italy (the solo comedian Leo Bassi). We have also hosted troupes from the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands, South Korea, the US, Australia, Mexico, Chile and even as far afield as Togo!
Since 2007, each edition has had a leading theme; this year events are held under the banner “JOY of a Reclaimed Courtyard”.
The context of the communal outdoor space and using it as a metaphor for a happy, carefree childhood brings together formal theatre, dance, pantomime, clown performances, marionettes and acrobats.
The festival opens on 6 July at the courtyard in front of the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre with a prologue: a family repertoire for young viewers and everyone who is still enchanted by the magic of puppetry or longs to return to the world of their childhood favourites.
Aimed at young theatre fans, performances fill the Small Market Square between Friday and Sunday. We will see marionette spectacles from Barcelona (The Bellhop, Hilarilar Marionetas) and Budapest (The Budapest Marionettes, Bence Sarkadi Theater of Marionettes), Karius and Baktus by the Puppet and Actor Theatre in Łomża and an interactive theatre installation Old Farm by the Wagabunda Theatre.
From Kazimierz to Nowa Huta
Kraków’s Kazimierz hosts two events. The Spanish actor and director Adrián Schvarzstein’s Arrived features the Lithuanian artist Jūratė Širvytė-Rukštelė to tell the story of exile and migration, while the dance spectacle Shtetl by the Konin Dance Theatre recalls the town’s Jewish community and its customs.
On the first day of the festival, the Podgórski Market Square welcomes choreographer Katarzyna Pamuła, stage designer Joanna Jaśko-Sroka and costume designer Elżbieta Kwasek under the direction of author and director Krzysztof Niedźwiedzki – favourite of Cracovian audiences for his absurdist stage spectacles – with the collective presenting a premiere of their C’est la vie. It is the story of three couples from different time periods, telling the stories of their lives, desires and good and bad points through a carefully choreographed spectacle of gestures and dance, all in the face of an imminent threat. Produced by hosts of ULICA, the performance stars Karolina Bondaronek, Elżbieta Firek, Katarzyna Pamuła, Jacek Joniec, Paweł Rybak and Karol Śmiałek.
The festival programme also features two more items from KTO’s Theatre repertoire, both directed by Jerzy Zoń with choreography by Eryk Makohon. Peregrinus – making a welcome return to Kraków – is a grotesque metaphor showing a day-in-the-life of a contemporary everyman, brought by Teatr KTO to over 80 festivals all over the globe, including New York, Beijing, San Diego, Seoul, Tbilisi, London, Montreal, Tehran, Budapest, Milan, Kyiv, Vilnius, Sibiu and Tarrega. In turn, their latest spectacle Arcadia, inspired by poetry by Tadeusz Różewicz, is an intense choreographic collage of some of the most beautiful and the most cruel episodes of humankind.
Don’t miss the street premiere of an experimental blend of performance art with painting by Zbigniew Szumski from Teatr Cinema and Arti Grabowski. Awarded a distinction at the 4th Independent Theatre Festival “The Best OFF”, it tells the story of an individual entangled in serving authorities and ideology – a shaman who builds walls and divisions at the cost of his own health, freedom and life.
As usual, this year’s festival presents a selection of diverse performances from clown theatre. We will see Aguila Claun from Buenos Aires, Hugo Mira from Guadalajara, Mr. Copini from Barcelona and the acrobat Simon Llewellyn from Tampere.
The ULICA Festival also welcomes back favourite performers from L’viv and Kyiv, joining forces for the dazzling project Circus Colours exploring the relationships between theatre and contemporary circus.
Trip out of town
Since 2010, the Cracovian festival has been sharing its magic of street theatres with other towns in Małopolska. This year, selected performances visit Tarnów, Wieliczka, Niepołomice and Limanowa. The programme of this year’s festival presents over 160 spectacles in seven locations in Kraków and four towns across the region.
This will be the last time the festival is held in this format. In the future, ULICA will open in early July with a two-day programme at the Main Market Square followed by spectacles presented in different locations throughout Kraków on summertime weekends. We can’t wait to experience the theatrical emotions awaiting at the start of the summer holidays!
Actor, assistant director and pedagogue at the National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków. Linked with Teatr KTO since 1993, he has danced with the AGH Contemporary Form Ballet and the Eurodance 2000 ensemble. Between 1998 and 2002, he worked with the Kyiv Experimental Theatre. He has taken part in many international theatre projects. He has been involved with photography since 2005 and he has presented four individual exhibitions.
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