The vacant utopia : reflecting on the first Polish post-war staging of The Tempest

Source document: Theatralia. 2020, vol. 23, iss. 1, pp. 131-149
  • ISSN
    1803-845X (print)
    2336-4548 (online)
In 1947 Leon Schiller staged The Tempest as his first post-war Shakespeare play. From today's perspective, his choice possibly reveals the intention to counter the harshness of post-war reality or to display a sense of an unbroken connection to pre-war efforts. However, the inherent utopianism of The Tempest coupled with all too fervent championing of his own theatrical theory laid bare the vanity of Schiller's endeavours. Furthermore, the new translation of the play turned out defective, as it was found to be coalesced with the 19th century canonical Polish version. Schiller's partisan aspirations raise additional doubts as to his motivations. Several central ideas of the play were lost in this staging, leaving one to doubt whether the utopic character of the play was been contaminated by the new hope the Soviet regime brought with it. Reviewing this production of The Tempest can provide insights into an interim period when cultural processes in Poland were moulding, a new Polish Shakespearean canon was but anticipated, and Kott's Shakespeare, Our Contemporary (1964) had yet to enter the stage.
  • This article incorporates the research results of the state-funded project The e-Repository of the Polish 20th and 21st Century Shakespeare Translations: Resources, Strategies and Reception 2018–2021 (NCN Opus 14 2017/27/B/HS2/00853).
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