Magazine article American Theatre

Are You Ready to Lupa

Magazine article American Theatre

Are You Ready to Lupa

Article excerpt

WROCLAW, POLAND, AND NEW YORK CITY: Just how interested would a U.S. audience be in a four-hour stage adaptation of a nightmarish Austrian novel? How might Europeans benefit from an eight-hour dramatization of the story of Andy Warhol and his Factory acolytes, as fantasized by Polish actors? What about an open-rehearsal presentation of the Marilyn Monroe section of a planned nine-hour triptych that will also meditate on the figures of G.I. Gurdjieff and Simone Weil?

For observers of Krystian Lupa, such questions are germane. The 66-year-old Polish director/designer, a living legend in his native country, was honored in Wroclaw in April with the 13th Europe Theatre Prize, worth 60,000 euros. He has often been accused of turning his back on contemporary social and political realities in Poland; moreover, considering the extraordinary demands that Lupa's large-scale works require of his frequently non-Polish-speaking audiences (especially in France, Austria and Germany), such questions cut to the heart of his ranking alongside Harold Pinter, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine and Pina Bausch, all previous Europe Theatre Prize winners. Lupa was feted at a week of events that included performances of his work, and of work by the younger-generation artists who shared the 30,000-euro Europe Prize for New Theatrical Realities: Argentina-born Rodrigo Garcia, who works in Spain; Italy's Pippo Delbono; Belgium's Guy Cassiers; France's Francois Tanguy and his Theatre du Radeau; and Hungary's Arpad Schilling.

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Lupa's Factory 2 and the work-in-progress Persona mark a new improvisatory phase for this auteur, whose text-heavy, actor-centered work (usually adapted from the prose of such Austrian writers as Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Musil, Hermann Broch and Thomas Bernhard, as well as Russian literature) evinces a realism-based nuance and character-based flourish that is the polar opposite of the physical and vocal pyrotechnics developed by Jerzy Grotowski and his followers. …

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