in Polish

A performance inspired by paintings by Witold Wojtkiewicz

and texts by Roman Jaworski


Robert Żurek Olga Przeklasa  Karol Zapała Ewa Ryks

Scenario, directed & produced by:  Wiesław Hołdys 

Paintings consultant and project of costumes :  Jan Polewka

Concrete music by  Ewa Ryks

Puppets & masks by:Katarzyna Jędrzejczyk 

Production's cooperation by: Kinga Piechnik, Maria Śmiłek, Michał Rdzanek

Costumes made by: Beata Bobek i Elżbieta Rokita - PIN art

Sound recorded by: Jerzy Zając - Studio 19

In cooperation with Independent Theatres Association STeN - Krakow

„Circuses and Ceremonies” is a performance inspired by paintings by Witold Wojtkiewicz, one of the most interesting and original Polish painters. Wojtkiewicz died in 1909 at the age of 29. The world of his paintings, engravings and drawings is inhabited by people changing into dolls and dolls transformed into people, mysterious ceremonies turning into suspicious circuses, mad people who keep returning to a magical circle, gardens overgrown with thick, dry weeds, trees heavy with hanging pessimists, clowns and priests imprisoned by masks, confectioneries offering poisoned cakes – all these images are reflected in the theatre of actors, puppets, clowns and dancers. The few words which are uttered during the performance have been taken from texts by Roman Jaworski – a friend of Wojtkiewicz and a precursor of literature exploring the boundary between worlds of reality and hallucination.

Opening night: 8th December 2007,Krakow, Teatr Zalezny

To watch a trailer by Przemysław Pietras - click here

To watch a photo gallery by Arur Łoboda - click here

Project is realised thanks to finnancial support of Malopolska Region

With finnancial support of Municipality of Krakow

Thanks to Mr Artur Wroński and Restaurant Chimera in Cracow  w Krakowie for helping in realisation of opening night.


Media's patrons


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



The performance makes use of the following paintings by Witold Wojtkiewicz Paintings are annotated with quotations from texts by Roman Jaworski.


- We must drive the whole world crazy and mad.

"Possession – Circus of Madmen (1906)"

- It seems that I will not be able to turn crazy.

- Too bad, you’ve got to be able to do it if needs be.

"Fantasy" (1908)

Gentlemen, the horror is walking the streets, quite visibly.


"Meditations. Ash Wednesday"  (1908)

The cap is looking for a head and the mask is looking for a face.









"Circus – in Front of the Little Theatre" (1906-1907)


"Circus II' (1907)

The job of the art is to reach the essence of people

who lead a double life.








"Composition - masks" (1907)

We cannot understand our existence, by any means.










"Poisoned Cake Shop" (1908)



The most common internal  epilepsies – absolutely harmless. I will suddenly get sleepy at three p.m. I will slide into the earth and I will have a nap, not disturbing anyone.

Pierrot – Symbolic Self-portrait (1909).



"I went to  the gloomy basement at 1, Kanoniczna St. I, only to be amazed by an extraordinary performance. A true phenomenon.  Teatr Mumerus. A  fringe theatre, which intrigues and enthralls the audience, in spite of its chamber size performances.   Wiesław Hołdys who is the producer, stage director and script writer, was inspired by the poetics of paintings by  Witold Wojtkiewicz, which show "two extreme elements - merriment and sadness, entwined inseparably", as it has been described by  Jerzy Ficowski. This poetics is supplemented by texts of Roman Jaworski,  a forgotten Catastrophic writer, a pioneer of the grotesque in Polish literature.(...) His four actors are immersed in the reality of a dream, with its unforeseen logic, absurd, strangeness, misleading hints and surprising transformations.  The stage hosts "people incarnated in puppets and puppets incarnated  in people (again, a phrase by   Ficowski), and is full of poisoned layer cakes, untended gardens, pathetic tyrants, dancers, clowns and circus people.  One watches a world of uneasy people forced by instinct to repeat their papers as well as  undergo grotesque metamorphoses and illogical transformations.  Where do they go, what do they want?  Answering such questions is impossible -   just like trying to present paintings by Wojtkiewicz, when one is unable to render it all by means of banal descriptions.  It is a theatre in its pure form - unrealistic, focused on itself and turning its back to the current reality.  It is at times imperfect, but it seeks no perfection.  What an extraordinary performance... "

Justyna Nowicka

„Circuses and ceremonies, phantoms and dreams ”


nr 2-3/2008


Meanders of dream

"The recent performance by  Teatr Mumerus is a composition told with a unique language of graphic transformations, which could be a record of a dream woven by a tired brain, or a brain dizzied with hallucinogenic vapours. All things get transformed: a body of a strange being with a distorted face turns in a funeral shrine of a man, people and puppets follow the same rules and the mysterious animator of the whole event plays artificial flowers like a violin.  There is no clearly defined space, there are no references to the time of the plot, there is no linear plot whatsoever. The world presented to the audience is hermetic and strongly rooted in the graphic vision by   Witold Wojtkiewicz whose paintings served as inspiration for the performance.  The show, inlaid with texts by  Roman Jaworski, balances on the edge of drugged visions and figments of a mind which is dangerously disorganised, chaotic and intentionally illogical.

The performance has two  main leading motives.  The first part is dominated by the motive of metamorphosis.  Flat clothes on the stage begin to move and actors begin to appear from under them.  First one sees a leg, a hand, then something starts to  rhythmically pulsate under the cloth, and in some other place the cloth begins to bulge.  People are hiding underneath... but are they really people?  Not necessarily. One of the actors is dressed up as a clown, while all the others are performing mechanical gestures, as if moved by some animator. The clothes begin to move on their own account. First they become a body of a strange creature which delivers a monologue and then they serve as a screen covering actors who manipulate puppets; at the end they cover an actor's body as a tight cocoon.

The other motive, prevalent in the second part of the performance,  is the departure, perceived in a variety of ways. Actors are gradually departing; their number is reduced, while the attention of the audience begins to focus on stage props, such as strange hats similar to lamp covers , and on puppets.  The puppets turn gradually immobile; their movement, already reduced to the minimum, cease to exist, and the puppets turn into inanimate objects to be contemplated.  The final departure of actors reminds slightly of medieval death dance. The scene becomes empty, as if it waited for another dream. 

The music plays an important role in the performance. It is played live by   Ewa Ryks on percussion and wind instruments.  She moves around the scene with tiny steps, or rather fluent movements, as a good spirit of the space in which this unusual session is performed.  Although live music is combined with recordings, one does not feel any incoherence or aesthetic discord. 

Three actors: Olga Przeklasa, Karol Zapała i Robert Żurek, are close-knit team of performers. They maintain the formal requirements, not refraining to any realistic actors, they are focused and exist "inside" their characters. Zapała, who from the very beginning has been wearing the most eye-catching costume, initially focuses the attention of the audience on himself. However, once the spectators are used to the costume, they begin to appreciate the quality of team acting.

(...) One can imagine this performance with a larger stage and more money available for the artists.  The performance clearly tends towards spaciousness, and it would resolutely   invade any space available to it.  On the other hand, the limitations enforced simplicity, which contributed to the excellency of the performance. The simplest concepts proved to be the best: the had of  Ewy Ryks appearing from backstage, the functional use of a few elements of the stage design, and the hushed final scene.  One can bicker about little things such as non-functional puppets, reduced use of masks (which play an almost symbolic role in the performance, in contrast to works by   Wojtkiewicz), and technical imperfections.  However, the performance as a whole is a unique, comprehensively incoherent and intentionally inconsistent tale of a dreaming mind."

Hubert Michalak


© 2007 mumerus

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