Graduate of the Acting Faculty of the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School in Krakow (1967)
An artist who symbolizes the deepest concept of the “Stanislavsky School” actor, a total immersion in the character. Among her several dozen roles over the course of thirty years at the Stary Theatre, especially at the beginning of her career, most were characters steeped in tragedy, realistic, deeply psychological, though her work in comedy has been just as accomplished. Dainty and delicate, with the enormous eyes of an astonished child and a remarkably powerful and resonant voice, she has fascinated audiences in every role with the force of her expression, truthfulness, and grace.
Elżbieta Karkoszka began work as an artist early, in 1963, at the Stary Theatre, while still a first-year student at Krakow’s PWST Theatre School. Władysław Krzemiński, the director at the time, entrusted her with a leading role as Helen in Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker,” which he directed; at that same time, Andrzej Wajda cast her in his first staging of Wyspiański’s “The Wedding” (as Isia). She spent her first years after graduation at Krakow’s Rozmaitości Theatre. She returned to the Stary Theatre in 1970 and continues to create the history of this ensemble as a guest actor. Viewers have had the opportunity to admire her work as Klimina in Wyspiański’s “The Wedding” directed by Jan Klata, and as Mrs. Drussa in Remigiusz Brzyk’s “The Kingdom,” a metaphor for the history of the Stary Theatre.
Konrad Swinarski entrusted her with the sensual, enchanting Hermia in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the shattering, tragic Sowa in Mickiewicz’s “Forefather’s Eve.” Her many collaborations with Andrzej Wajda showed off her multifaceted acting abilities. In his productions she played the sorrowful, docile Maria Shatov in Dostoevsky’s “The Demons,” the heroic Nike from Chaeronea in Wyspiański’s “November Night,” the hysterical and pathetic old maid Emilia Chomińska in “With the Passing of Years, with the Passing of Days…” based on a script by Joanna Olczak-Ronikier, the lovelorn Ismena in Sophocles’ “Antigone,” and the comic Baronne Caroline de Champigny in Labiche’s “Straw Hat.” Her immersive acting brilliantly renders the fleeting understatements and moods of the characters in Chekhov’s dramas: the helplessly lovelorn Varya from “The Cherry Orchard” in Jerzy Jarocki’s famous staging, the complicated and passionate Masha in “Ten Portraits with a Lapwing” directed by Jerzy Grzegorzewski, and Maria Woynitzka from “Uncle Vanya,” directed by Rudolf Zioło.
She created some brilliant comic figures under the directorial eye of Kazimierz Kutz. Her Raganella in Różewicz’s “Spaghetti and Sword” was astonishing in its bravado, in the courage of her choices: “Elżbieta Karkoszka has outdone herself. The mustachioed old woman on crooked legs launched such an attack on the Colonel at the end (a brilliant Tadeusz Huk) that all the partisan operations and sieges don’t hold a candle to her,” as Magda Huzarska-Szumiec put it. She also did a masterful job of handling Aniela in Fredro’s “Ladies and Hussars,” making a hilarious duo with Tadeusz Huk. (eb)