External actor’s exam (1961)
Andrzej Kozak made his debut on the Young Audience Stage (presently the Bagatela Theatre) at seventeen years of age, even before graduating from high school. A few years later, on October 1, 1954, he began work as a professional actor on the same stage. After several years packed with major leading roles, now one of Krakow’s most popular young actors, Director Zygmunt Hűbner invited him to join the Stary Theatre ensemble.
Andrzej Kozak is an actor with a boundless capacity to transform on stage, flawless in his craft, original in his means of expression; he created several dozens characters at the Stary Theatre, many of which entered the Polish theatre canon. He has worked with such leading directors as Konrad Swinarski (playing Francis Flute in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Father Piotr in “Forefathers’ Eve,” the Director in “Liberation”), Andrzej Wajda (including Alexei Kirillov in “The Demons,” Notary Milczek in “Revenge,” Vezinet in “The Straw Hat”), and Jerzy Jarocki (including the Believer and Harry in “My Daughter,” the Servant in “Life Is a Dream,” Płatek in “Hear, O Israel!”, and Old Man-Lyrnik I in “The Dream of Silver Salomea”).
As the critics and viewers have noted, his work with younger directors has been just as important. In Jan Klata’s “The Wedding,” “Andrzej Kozak’s Jasiek appearing in the finale personifies the powerlessness that has overcome the guests. Like an eternal reveller who always misses what is most important, Andrzej Kozak brings in the disappointment of the older, lost generations…” (Olga Katafiasz, Teatralny.pl). Viewers will remember his exceptional role as Mr. Wołodyjowski in a staging of the “Trilogy,” also directed by Klata. Among the many roles performed under Tadeusz Bradecki, the character of the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in “A Model of Metaphysical Evidence,” with its clash of reason and emotion, its shifting conventions and moods, was a performance where Kozak’s acting finesse truly had a chance to shine (Main Acting Award at the 25th Festival of Contemporary Polish Plays). He proved the power of his acting, in which precision and analytical distance meld perfectly with a delirious passion, working with directors as distinct as Jerzy Grzegorzewski (Colonel Abłoputo in “So-Called Humanity in a Frenzy,” the Count, Pelican in “Forefathers’ Eve—Twelve Improvisations”), Krystian Lupa (Count Brahe in “Malte”), and the Israeli Gadi Roll, in whose harrowing staging of “The Survivors” he played the part of Harry, a deadbeat father who has broken his relationships with his family. For his role of Filippo in “Seeking an Old Clown” directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, he created an aging clown who, in warding off despair, becomes cruel toward his companions in distress, thus externalizing the depth of their mutual bonds, showing another side of Kozak’s craft. His work shows a psychological truth, subtlety of nuance, expansive emotions, and limitless comic potential, which Kazimierz Kutz used to good effect, entrusting him with the role of Remba in his staging of “Ladies and Hussars.”
Andrzej Kozak’s long-standing service to the theatre confirms the truth of the proverb, “The actor is the heart of the theatre.”