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Turning point. E-Interpretations 2020. Festival director essay
Ingmar Villqist, dyrektor festiwal "Interpretacje" / fot. Arkadiusz Ławrywianiec.

In February this year, we made the decision at the organizational bureau of the 20th INTERPRETATIONS National Festival of Directing to deliver this year’s edition of the festival online.
We had argued about this for a long time, and I had talked to many directors of theatre and film festivals
in Poland and abroad, asking what they were going to do. They all replied identically: “We do not know what is going to happen, maybe we will do it online, maybe we can do it the analogue way. After all, what kind of a festival (an online event like this) would that be?” You can attend a film festival in front of a laptop screen. But a theatre festival? This is our holiday, meetings with living stages, actors, literature, contemporary art, music, the world of sounds, discussions, gossip in theatre foyers following festival premieres and disputes over jury decisions. All this used to always be ‘live’. Personal meetings, between spectators and actors, the unique festival atmosphere, the aura of exceptional artistic events, how to transfer this online?

After all, it is like hanging out in front of a candy shop window, even though the shop has been boarded up  for god knows how long, by a decision on social distancing. Today, we can only look through the glass of laptop screens and recall the joy of entering packed festival audiences.

The pandemic revaluates everything before our eyes; it is a kind of major turning point (that basic element of a playwright’s or scriptwriter’s tool set…), it radically changes the vector of our history and the fates of the drama characters. We are all protagonists of the pandemic drama, and we are feeling the consequences of this turning point more and more acutely.

We love theatre, we love actors, and we will not let this field of freedom and independent judgment and opinion be taken away from anyone. Never. No pandemic nor any other kind of mess. This is because we love theatre and we do not want to and cannot live without it. Who would we be without theatre and without art? Mere puppets repeating other people’s opinions, mannequins programmed by politicians, with pre-written slogans on how to live, what to believe in and what not, how to love and whom, how to hate, and how and what to die for.

We are now watching shows and festival performances on laptop screens – but we will fare well. Our imagination will make up for the deficiencies of performances watched on computer screens; we will feel the magic of theatre; we will even smell the smell of the stage and costumes; we will hear the rustling paper of a candy quietly unpacked, and hear the harrumphing before the curtain goes up. All this unique theatrical aura is going to be with us even now, as we have this living theatre within us – theatre and all things beautiful and hideous about it have shaped us.

We had wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary edition of the INTERPRETATIONS National Festival of Directing 2020 in Katowice very solemnly, all over the city, on all possible stages and in movie theatres. The pandemic has verified our plans. Let’s remember today about the originator and creator of the INTERPRETATIONs, Kazimierz Kutz, an outstanding Silesian film and theatre director who is no longer with us, about Jacek Sieradzki, who had come up with the artistic concept of the festival and for a long time was the Artistic Director of the Conrad Laurel competition. The Artistic Director of two editions of the INTERPRETATIONS was also Katarzyna Janowska.

Let us then invite you to the online stages of the 20th INTERPRETATIONS National Festival of Directing 2020 in Katowice. We hope you will enjoy our master shows, competition shows directed by the youngest generation of Polish directors, the screenings of short feature films, documentaries, radio plays, workshop stream ings, meetings with directors, cinematographers, Jury members, reviewers, an exciting live panel with directors of the most important theatre festivals in Europe.

Let’s see what this pandemic turning point is going to change in the future of contemporary theatre. We are sure that in two years’ time, during the next edition of the INTERPRETATIONS, you will meet with the youngest generation of theatre artists seated in comfortable armchairs in front of real, live theatre stages

Ingmar Villqist
Art Director of the 20 th Interpretations
Festival of the Art of Directing

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