Hommage a Franz Kafka



Beata Kolak - Mrs K. , parodist of males


Anna Lenczewska  - Dancer, Ewa Ryks – Cleaner,  Dr K.,
Marcin Popczyński – Mr  Big,


Robert Żurek –  dr K.

Scenario, directing, production by  Wiesław Hołdys  Projects of puppets by Jan Polewka Concrete Music by Ewa Ryks Stage design cooperation:  Katarzyna Jędrzejczyk  Project of inscriptions & subtittles: Katarzyna Fijał Metalwork:Robert Calikowski

Dr K.

is the performance takes which place in a stall, on a shooting range, and in a travelling trunk left and in the attic.


Dr K means:

A monkey performing in a cabaret,



A hunter Grakchus, who thanks to intrigue of nasty bushman travels between life and death,




The apparatus which lets everyone get to know his or her fault on his or her own body,



A three balls which always track old bachelors,




A hunger artist,




A salesperson – Gregor Samsa, who became a worm one day,

A theatre from Oklahoma where everybody is needed

It’s a cage which is looking for a bird

The following fragments of Franz Kafka’s novels and short stories have been used: „America”, „Diaries”, „A Hunger Artist”, „The Hunter Gracchus”, „Transformation”, Old Bachelor Blumfeld”, „A Report to an Academy”, „In The Penal Colony”.


Dr K. Hommage a Franz Kafka is a theatrical collage inspired by short stories by Franz Kafka. The reality (the transformation of an ape into a man and a man into a bug, the shows of hunger, penalizing a man by inscribing his crime on his forehead, recruitment to a theatre done by angels) undergoes incessant metamorphoses, presenting the world of imagination of one of the most outstanding artists of the 20th century. The performance combines elements of situational, puppet and dance theatre.

An award to Wieslaw Holdys for adaptation of text at the Festival of European Classic's Dramaturgy  organized by Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.


Dr K’s Clinic

The recent spectacle by Stowarzyszenie Teatr Mumerus (Mumerus Theatre Association) begins with a resonant, rhythmical sound. A regular, simple rhythm marked by one of the actors gradually changes into a diversified mixture of sounds, gestures and movements. Just a few stage props have place on the limited stage space: a large metal cage in the centre, a hand-propelled wooden mangle on the left and a few suitcases on the right. Characters present on stage from the very beginning: the Dancer (Anna Lenczewska), Dr K. (Robert Żurek) and Mr Fatty (Marcin Popczyński) stamp the floor, dance between the stage props, sing in an incomprehensible language, arrange the stage decorations. After a moment, they are joined by the remaining characters: Ms K., an entertainer who does impressions of men (Beata Kolak) and the Out-Sweeper (Ewa Ryks). The stage becomes crowded and the game area turns really sparse.

The initially chaotic dance changes into individual scenes: a successful chimpanzee hunt and a mysterious ship cruise which reminds of the travel to the other world. Afterwards, the audience has an opportunity to watch a crash-course in evolution: a captured monkey kept in a metal cage, in its desire to break free from the cramped place, decides to copy human behaviour, which proves quite easy, although drinking vodka poses certain problems. After a while the tormented animal turns into a full-fledged entertainer. However, we immediately move from a cheap theatre to the room of Dr K, suffering from split personality and untiringly pursued by three little speeding balls. We also witness tortures in a penal colony and a spectacular performance by the Hunger Artist who dies because nothing tastes to him well enough any more. We also watch Gregor Samsa turning into a bug and ending his life after being swept onto a newspaper. The performance is crowned with the scene of recruiting actors to work in a mysterious theatre in Oklahoma. Nobody has seen it yet, but everybody wants to work there.

The performance is based on fragments from America, Diaries, A Hunger Artist, The Hunter Gracchus, The Metamorphosis, A Report to an Academy". However, they do not combine into a coherent, logically developed plot, as the authors of “Dr K” had other things in mind. The performance has been based on the play of tension, rhythms and pauses, developing into a cadence of intertwining moods and phantasmagorias. The main character is the writer’s imagination. Absurd, humour, tragism, chaotically and accidentally combined fragments of the world, plenitude of disorderly motives are combined in a manner devoid of any logical rules; the only rule governing the structure of the world is the total lack of rules. The reality is presented as an accelerating video viewed in fast-forward mode. Events and situations recorded in this way acquire new, comic meaning and characters turn into their own caricatures.

"Dr K." owes a lot to the aesthetics of silent films, as it uses headings which announce episodes, fast changes of the locations, music in the background, characteristic and grotesque dumb show acting a la Charlie Chaplin. An important role has been ascribed to puppets designed by Jana Polewka). Small mechanical human-like puppets (approx ½ meter high) co-exist side by side with live actors. The main character is accompanied by his miniature alter ego with which he establishes an intriguing dialogue. Three accreted gentlemen in elegant overcoats are tenants of Mr and Ms Samsa. The Hunger Artist has been designed following a different aesthetic tradition, featuring an almost life-size effigy which is static and has macabre appearance. Its very presence on the scene builds an immense tension.

All stage props (except for the suitcases and the mangle), and also costumes of actors are black and white. This remarkable decision of the stage designer strongly underlines the character of the performance based on contrasts between life and death, laughter and fear, sensual pleasure and tortures, theatre and reality. Stage props are used in a variety of ways: a trunk which during one scene serves as the room of Dr K, in another turns into a coffin, then into a closet or a table. A brush with a long handle can serve as an oar of Charon’s boat or can magically turn into a gun; a trumpet becomes a candle holder for a lit candle. The cage which is initially the chimpanzee prison, turns into a vile torture apparatus, then into a theatrical stage for the emaciated Hunger Master and finally becomes a tram car. The wooden mangle changes into a printing press, delivering slogans which call for erotic liberation of women. Items are used also as carriers of individual sounds, creating a surrealistic orchestra: sounds of a typewriter can work as well as sounds of a train, the trunk becomes a drum calling to attend the show. In the result of symbolic approach to meanings and space creation, the limited stage space turns actually quite spacious and flexible, and a few simple stage props ideally serve to fulfil various functions, including that of musical instruments.

Undoubtedly, the most interesting concept of the stage director and script writer (Wiesław Hołdys), was to focus on Kafka’s black, macabre, intensive comic power. Authors of Dr K. managed to exceed standard registers of understanding Kafka’s fiction as unending labyrinths of the subconscious, dark visions of doom and historic oracles. The performance by Teatr Mumerus shows Kafka’s works as measureless treasury of humour, absurd stories, grotesque characters and mirth similar to that derived by folk theatre performances – full of kitsch which is so obvious that it ceases to irritate, but moves and amuses. Dr K. is the sound of giggle on stage and the clinic of accelerating imagination.

Gabriela Detka
Nowa siła krytyczna
Teatr w Polsce - polski wortal teatralny

To watch a trailer by Przemyslaw Pietras - click here

Photo credits by Wiesław Hołdys, Marcin Popczyński i Robert Żurek - Mumerus and Artur Łoboda ,  All photos by Artur Łoboda from "Dr K." - click here

Puppets fo performance "Dr K. Hommage a Franz Kafka" projected by Jan Polewka:

"Dr K." has made in frames of project "Myth of Middle Europa: Dr K. versus Golem" realised together with  VOS Herecka – PiDivadlo from Prague (Czech Republic)

Opening nights: November 2006 - Cracow, Prague

Project is realised thanks to finnancial support of Malopolska Region (Województwo Małopolskie)


With financial support of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

Performances in Czech Republic are realised thanks to helping of Polish Institute in Prague (Instytut Polski w Pradze)

Team of "Dr K." thanks to Mr Artur Wroński and Restaurant Chimera in Cracow  w Krakowie for helping in realisation of opening night.

Cordially thanks to Mrs. Danuta Zajda for helping in organisation of performances in Theatre Zalezny

Performances in Theatre Zalezny are realised in frames of project "Scena Repertuarowa Stowarzyszenia Teatrów Nieinstytucjonalnych STEN" co-financed by Municipality of City Krakow.


© 2006 Wiesław Hołdys