Imagine that, as part of an art project, somewhere on the way between Krakow and Wrocław, a camera has been set up in the bushes in front of a gas station. The frame shows a fragment of the building with the pumps, a bit of the landscape, sometimes people appear. For two thousand hours the camera records reality. The recorded material undergoes artistic interpretation, the montage reveals an algorithm of similarities between people and situations. The aim of the “Provincial Actors: The Doppelgänger” project is to unite two acting ensembles – the National Stary Theatre in Krakow and the Polski Underground Theatre in Wrocław. Both theatres have recently been through a struggle to maintain artistic independence, to carry on working, using various strategies of resistance with varying consequences. The “Provincial Actors: The Doppelgänger” (the Krakow play) and “Provincial Actors: Autobiographies” (the Wrocław production) project is a utopian effort to bring together the two ensembles, not in one space, but in two different, though nearly identical plays, which dialogue with each other, copy each other, can be performed together or separately. “Short, remarkably comedic études with doppelgängers, including a caretaker in search of her ward (the always reliable Dorota Pomykała), or the teetotalling, unfulfilled cosmetician (an amusing Iwona Budner), mixed with monologues spoken on the actors’ own behalf. Bogdan Brzyski recalls his rough start in the acting business, and an ironic Marta Ojrzyńska complains about a demanding director, only to eventually slip into his role”, Dawid Dudko wrote about the Krakow performance (ONET KULTURA) adding, “At the same time, we observe recordings of rehearsals that stretch out because of the pandemic. Borczuch and his dramaturg Tomasz Śpiewak also evoke fragments of Stanisław Wyspiański’s “Liberation,” with a Konrad who “adorned the national stage.” This drama, along with inquiries into the general state of the artist, links the performance with Agnieszka Holland’s legendary film of the same title”.
“Provincial Actors: The Doppelgänger” is mostly made up of brief études, in which the actors dismantle their own profession, in a remarkably witty fashion. The scenes vary in topics and mood: from humorous, to bordering on abstract, to philosophical excursions into the nature of happiness and the essence of the self. The actors’ charisma exudes from these stories, they sometimes go on autobiographical digressions, and Bogdan Brzyski tells an amusing tale (harsh as his experiences may have been) of trying out for the theatre academy. The story ends in a poignant and quite unamusing way, at any rate, and this brings together the performance and expresses the present mood, not just of the artists, but of many Poles as such.
Zofia Lorek, Dziennik Teatralny Kraków
“Provincial Actors: The Doppelgänger” was singled out with the Radio Krakow Brand. Borczuch inquires into the place and role of the theatre during the pandemic, interrogating the actor’s condition, raising the subjects of distance, loneliness, and this time of suspension. “A remarkably apt and insightful diagnosis,” the jurors stressed in justifying their verdict.
The script incorporates the actors’ improvisations and fragments of Stanisław Wyspiański’s “Liberation”.
The play’s set design was inspired by Edward Hopper’s (1882-1967) painting Gas, 1940, oil on canvas, 66.7 cm x 102.2 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The copy used in the set was painted by Jan Płatek.