Mieczysław Grąbka

Graduate of the Acting Faculty of the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School in Krakow  (1973)

“Well, except we’re the kinds of friends who don’t like each other,” says Mieczysław Grąbka playing the Jew, delivering the words so that a tingle goes down your spine. His role in “The Wedding” directed by Jan Klata was widely hailed by reviewers: “There is also Mieczysław Grąbka—his Jew has a compelling blend of mystical fascination and irony, staring fixedly in the empty chapel hanging on the felled tree in the centre of the stage” (Michał Centkowski The actor was also a perfect match for the structure of other productions by Jan Klata: as the grotesque/fairy-tale Matador Manuel and Prince Kot Omar in “The Wedding of Count Orgaz,” the cruel Grigori Mikulin and Vladimir in “The Secret Agent” and the splendidly comme il faut Regan in “King Lear.” He showed mastery and comedic talent once more in Marcin Liber’s stagings: “Being Steve Jobs” and “An Old Woman Broods,” where he proved himself more than capable of keeping up with new theatrical styles.

Educated at Krakow’s PWST Theatre School and a lecturer for over thirty years at the school, Mieczysław Grąbka is a master of sharp comebacks. He appeared on the Stary Theatre stage at thirteen years of age in performances by Jerzy Jarocki and Andrzej Wajda. He harmoniously joins a strident style with technical mastery, sensitivity, and a sublime sense of humour with personality. An inimitable voice, perfect pitch, a gift for parody, a control of pantomime combined with a vivid imagination, temperament, and self-effacing distance gave rise to dozens of roles in his inimitable interpretations.

In Wajda’s productions, he showed a wide spectrum of incarnations: Mephisto-Kudlicz in the pastiche roundelay in “A November Night,” the charming buffoon and megalomaniac Antoni Relski in “With the Passing of Years, with the Passing of Days…,” the anxious courtier Osric in “The Tragedy of Hamlet,” the riotous Nonancourt in Labiche’s “Straw Hat,” and the quintessence of mature acting, in the Porter’s monologue in “Macbeth.” Meeting Jerzy Grzegorzewski was of special significance to the actor, and particularly two roles: Nosa in “The Wedding,” going against the traditional interpretations as a neurotic in an alcohol-induced depression, and the emotional Konstanty in “Ten Portraits with a Lapwing” based on Chekhov (which brought him a prize at the Kalisz Theatre Encounters).

His King Ignacy in “Iwona, Princess of Burgundy” staged by Grzegorz Jarzyna was a masterpiece in genre-bending. The actor blended comedy and edgy grotesque, he was a helpless milksop and a horrifying misogynist. In productions by Remigiusz Brzyk, in turn, he showed his strength in realistic acting, moving and amusing audiences as Pishchik in Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” and Chinovnik Majewski in Słobodziank’s “Tsar Nicholas.” In Paweł Miśkiewicz’s stagings he explored the world of obsessions, the dark side of human nature: he was the Commander in Canetti’s “Auto da fé” and the Husband in Schimmelpfennig’s “Before/After.” He gave splendid performances in Mikołaj Grabowski’s ironic productions: as the Preacher, the Mask in Wyspiański’s “Liberation,” a Blepyrus oppressed by an imposed “femininity” in Aristophanes’ “The Assembly of Women,” and the anachronistic Baron in Gombrowicz’s “Trans-Atlantyk.” As the Captain in Büchner’s “Woyzeck” directed by Mariusz Grzegorzek, he combined joviality and brutality.

A vital part of Mieczysław Grąbka’s accomplishments is his directing; for many years he has staged graduation performances by PWST Theatre School students, primarily musicals, most famously “Chicago.” At the Stary Theatre he has directed two productions: Böll’s “Confessions of a Clown” and Schnitzler’s “Procession of Shades.”

In the Theatre

In the repertoire