And I Have Uncurtained The Night

First Floor Theater

September 16 - 19, 2004

Opole Puppet Theatre, Poland
Director: Krystian Kobylka

The Opole Puppet Theatre of Poland performs "And I have Uncurtained the Night," based on Hans Christian Andersen's short story, "The Story of a Mother" and directed by Krystian Kobylka, as part of the La MaMa Puppet Series Festival September 16-19. This visual theater work crosses the barrier of spoken language with its use of pictures, fine art forms, music, acting, and puppetry.

With the La MaMa Puppet Series Festival, the formative East Village theater once again takes its place as a leading US entry point for artists from around the world, and where the international influence on New York artists is most on display. This festival features US premieres of multicultural works from India, Poland, Bali, Japan and the Czech Republic in addition to two that, while crafted in New York, are brimming with international art forms. One production is a significant revival. The series culminates October 7 to 10 with "Motel," the puppet play of "America Hurrah," Jean-Claude van Itallie's trilogy, which was originally presented by La MaMa in 1965 and is now widely regarded as the watershed Off-Broadway play of the Sixties. The festival is supported by The Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater and utilizes all three of La MaMa's performance theaters.

Andersen's story explores the boundaries between life and death, reality and spiritual vision. The hero of this story is Mother, whose Childe is taken by Death, who appears as different figures on Mother's path to finding her child. Mother makes several sacrifices to these figures in an effort to find her Childe and save it from an unknown future with Death. The Childe is the personification of the quest for Fate, as a dual destiny: a blessing for the world, as well as a curse.

The Puppet Theater in Opole, founded by Alojzy Smolka and then called the Polish Puppet Theater, debuted in 1937, when Opole was still in the region belonging to Germany. From this time until the outbreak of World War II, the theater presented six plays in 200 performances. The Nazi invasion in September 1939 led to the arrest of many of the theater staff to German prisons, including Smolka, who was imprisoned for ten years.

In April 1945, Smolka was released from prison and began working odd jobs at the Opole Drama Theater. Still missing puppetry, he began an effort to reactivate this artform, and in the 1948-49 season, he assumed the position of artistic director of the Puppet Theater, a division of the Opole Drama Theater. During this time, Smolka's work became widely recognized and respected. He hired many prominent actors and crew members, and introduced Polish audiences to work by Czech and Slovak writers. Smolka's dedication to the maintenance of high quality work greatly increased the Puppet Theater's popularity and loyalty among its audience. This tradition continues today under the leadership of many other directors following Smolka.

Since 1993, the Puppet Theater has been an independent organization subsidized by the city of Opole budget. Its productions continue to receive many awards and has toured in Germany, Finland, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, and Spain, along with a number of television appearances.

This production will be followed in the First Floor Theater by the second Polish production of the La MaMa Puppet Series Festival, Wroclaw Puppet Theatre in "The Last Escape," based on the novels of Bruno Schultz and directed by Aleksander Maksymiak (September 30-October 3).

2004 page