Drama in Wrocław: European Capital of Culture 2016

Wake up! Wrocław is the new European capital of culture, and a year of celebrations kicks off this weekend.

It is a gorgeous city with a complex cultural history – go if you haven’t yet – which has produced some world-class and socially observant theatre.

Gerhart Hauptmann went to high school and art school in Breslau, as it was then, and discovered the theatre there. He went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1912 for his naturalistic style. His most popular play Die Weber/The Weavers (1892), written in local dialect, described the weavers’ uprising in Breslau in 1844. It was inspired by stories of his grandfather, who was a weaver, and was banned by the Prussian censor as an ‘incitement to class struggle’. It is available free online in Mary Morison’s English translation. Hauptmann died a year after World War II ended – and Wrocław and the region became part of Poland under Communist rule.
The celebrations this year focus on a more recent resident, Tadeusz Różewicz, who is better known for his poetry than his innovative drama. Just after he moved to Wrocław in 1968, some of Różewicz’s plays, including Kartoteka/The Card Index, were published by Calder and Boyars (now Marion Boyars) in English translation by Adam Czerniawski. Różewicz’s 1982 play Pułapka/The Trap, which grew out of the author’s the fascination with Kafka, was last performed a few months ago in the USA, on the first anniversary of his death. This year’s celebrations in Wrocław include a new bibliography of translations of Różewicz’s work, which will hopefully lead to more performances, too.

Translator, editor, writer, reader

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