Krystian Lupa and collective creation of actors – „Imagine”, dir. Krystian Lupa, A co‑production by Teatr Powszechny im. Zygmunta Hübnera and Teatr Powszechny in Łódź
This is an artistic journey into the world of counterculture, the time of identity and cultural revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Inspired by the lyrics of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, Krystian Lupa poses the question about the viability of utopia in the world where spirituality has been commercialized or politicized, and humanistic values, human rights, equality and individual freedom, devalued.
The director revisits the phenomenon of the psychological‑spiritual New Age and the life and work of John Lennon, who, as if ‘a new Christ’ of the hippie era, asked us to imagine a world without wars, states and borders, without hatred and property, and with no religion. Do New Age visions sound just naive today? Is the belief in the infinite evolution of humanity and metaphysics only a pipe dream, or actually an eternal need of the human kind? Why did the pacifist idea fail so quickly in the 1970s? Do chances of a spiritual transformation increase during a crisis?
Excerpt from Krystian Lupa’s diary:
A wake is underway, or is it just a gathering of old dreamer friends that feels like a wake…? One of us has prepared a PERFORMANCE for this occasion… LET’S TELL EVERYTHING TO EACH OTHER, ABOUT WHAT WE COULD HAVE DONE AND WHAT HAS BEEN ABANDONED…
Lennon’s death peculiarly coincided with the beginning of the end of the New Age and for a decade had a religious connotations to it. Attracted to America by the New Age, by pacifism growing like lichen on the Vietnam war waged by our fathers, ‘the living dead of the old humanity’ → Lennon had become or wanted to become just for a while, for the Warholian 15 minutes, the face or the god of the New Era…
Who are those who attend the wake, who might have never met before or have been friends only through the kinship of their dreams…? Andy Warhol, Thomas Bernhard, Caspar Hauser, Carl Gustav Jung, Sylvia Plath, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Ferguson – the media for and creators of the vision of the new human being… These are just a handful of random names that set off the search for intellectual and literary stuff that entwines or permeates the subject in question…
This won’t be about dreaming nor about dreamers. Neither about John Lennon, nor the Beatles, even though the wake may be related to his death (John Lennon’s or that of his mythical double) → to a revolver shot at the Dakota’s door at the edge of Central Park and to the symbolism of the
NEW AGE is not a sect of dreamers → Jung’s Platonic month is not a ‘golden flower’ of a dreamer, either → while obviously these visions and visional ideas consist of human dreams as the basic stuff that makes religion and culture. Mathematics is also the child of a dreamer… As is speculative thinking and philosophy… and so on…. To save the planet, you need an idea, and you need to initiate it.
Will we answer why that belief in the transformation of humanity has died? Is it possible to set off the second wave → the religious transformation of the human community without believing in individual immortality?
direction and stage design: Krystian Lupa
script: Krystian Lupa i kreacja zbiorowa aktorów, Krystian Lupa and the actors’ collective work
music: Bogumił Misala
costumes: Piotr Skiba
production manager: Michalina Dement-Żemła, Karolina Pawłoś
video: Joanna Kakitek, Natan Berkowicz
assistant director, playwriting assistance: Dawid Kot
assistant director: Jan Kamiński
costume design assistance: Aleksandra Harasimowicz
stage manager: Iza Stolarska
cast: Karolina Adamczyk, Grzegorz Artman, Michał Czachor, Anna Ilczuk, Andrzej Kłak,
Michał Lacheta (Teatr Powszechny in Łódź), Mateusz Łasowski, Karina Seweryn, Piotr Skiba (gościnnie, guest appearance), Ewa Skibińska, Julian Świeżewski, Marta Zięba (guest appearance – Teatr Studio in Warsaw)
running time: 5.5 h (including a break of 25 minutes after Act I)
A co-production by Teatr Powszechny im. Zygmunta Hübnera and Teatr Powszechny in Łódź.
Premiere in Lódź: 23 April 2022 at Międzynarodowy Festiwal Sztuk Przyjemnych i Nieprzyjemnych. Premiere in Warsaw: 7 May 2022, Large Stage of Teatr Powszechny.
The performance is produced as part of the Prospero. Extended Theatre project, with the support
from the European Union’s Creative Europe programme.
(born 1943) – Director, stage designer, graphic artist, one of the most important figures in Polish theatre. Initially, he studied at the Faculty of Physics of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, but in 1963 he enrolled in the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts and in 1969 obtained a diploma in graphics. Then he spent two years studying film directing at the Film School in Łódź and then returned to Kraków to study drama directing (1973-1977). At that time, he was associated with a group of experimental artists inspired by the ideas of counterculture.
During his studies, he was greatly influenced by artistic personalities active in the Kraków theatre at the time, especially Konrad Swinarski and Tadeusz Kantor. For many years, he has worked with Teatr Polski in Wrocław (Kuszenie cichej Weroniki, Azyl, Poczekalnia.0), Kraków’s Stary Theatre (Brothers Karamazow, Master and Margarita, Factory 2) and the Warsaw’s Teatr Dramatyczny (Na szczytach panuje cisza, Persona. Marylin), and recently also with the Warsaw’s Teatr Powszechny (Capri – wyspa uciekinierów, Imagine). His specializes performances based on the motives of Austrian literature, including texts by Thomas Bernhard (Kalkwerk, Immanuel Kant, Siblings, Extinction, Woodcutters), Werner Schwab (The Presidents), Hermann Broch (Sleepwalkers), Robert Musil (The Dreamers) and Alfred Kubin (The City of Dream).
He has often worked abroad: in France, Austria and the USA, as well as in China. In 2009, he was
awarded the European Theatre Prize. He has had a significant impact on Polish theatre as a teacher at the Directing Department of Kraków’s PWST, where he worked from 1983 (granted the title of a professor in 1993; a dean in 1990–96). Many prominent directors who were his students (including Grzegorz Jarzyna and Krzysztof Warlikowski) admit that meeting him was very important for their artistic development.
Krystian Lupa has also published several volumes of personal essays and journals, including:
Utopia i jej mieszkańcy (1994); Labirynt (2001).