Sonata Jesienna

In this first Polish stage production of Autumn Sonata, Ewa Wesniewska is seen in the part of the mother and Dorota Landowska plays the daughter. Ewelina Pietrowiak directs.

Sonata Jesienna

In this first Polish stage production of Autumn Sonata, Ewa Wesniewska is seen in the part of the mother and Dorota Landowska plays the daughter. Ewelina Pietrowiak directs.

Teatr Ateneum
Warsaw

Text

Many critics pointed out the lack of modernity in the staging as well as in the play. Temida Stankiewicz-Podhoreckafor example wrote in Nasz Dziennik: "Autumn sonata refers to the more and more forgotten real theatre. The theatre where the text of the play and the psychological acting are given the first place, and not the blown up, filled with pointless staging gadgets originating in the director's pride who tries in this way to make his or her presence visible at the theatre. Ewelina Pietrowiak, despite being a very young director, has not been beguiled by the destructive fashion destroying the theatre today. [...] It may be said that she is an individual artist who follows her heart. This time Bergman was in Ewelina Pietrowiak's heart."

Janusz Majcherek in Gazeta Wyborcza agreed: "[...] clearly she is interested in the literary theatre, the one based on a thorough text analysis and putting trust into actors; at one time this type of the theatre formed the mainstream, and today it is rather an off- phenomenon. From this point of view, having decided to work at the Ateneum theatre, the director, in fact, gives a proof of her non-conformism."

The production was performed at the smallest stage of the enriched Teatr Ateneum and the direction by newly examined Ewelina Pietrowiak impressed. The small acting space created an intimate chamber drama with intense and convincing achievements by the actors.

Dorota Landowska who played the part of Eva is already a veteran in Polish Bergman productions. In 1998 she did the part of Anna in Scena Prezentacje's staging of After the Rehearsal.

The production was performed at the smallest stage of the enriched Teatr Ateneum, Scena na Dole (the Stage Below). Most critics remarked on the use of acting space, leaving the actors exposed to the audience. Michalak wrote in Dziennik: "Ewelina Pietrowiak managed to adapt the tiny Scena na Dole of the Warsaw Ateneum Theatre. The actors play so close to the audience you can almost touch them. They are amongst the spectators. Thanks to that it is easier to experience their emotions. One can see every grimace on their faces, every gesture and every tear".

Janusz Majcherek in Gazeta Wyborcza found the conditions of the stage favourable, "neither for the director, nor for actors. A very wide, 'panoramic', yet very narrow belt of the staging place with a not useful space concealed deep inside behind three massive pillars gives unusually limited possibilities for situating play plans and arranging the characters' movement. At the same time the actors act so close to the spectators that a smallest untruth in their performance becomes an unconvincing falsehood."

Stankiewicz-Podhorecka in Nasz Dziennik agreed: "Ewelina Pietrowiak, using the little space of Scena na Dole, converted it in my opinion - not too fortunately, because in a kind of a reversed way. She stretched the playing space sideways what caused the distance between the ends to be too big for this play and the relationships between the characters. Moreover, such a composition of the playing space is quite dangerous to the actors, because these the few rows of the audience situated along the stage are in such a close proximity that the spectators and the actors can almost touch one another."

The setting also affected the reception of the performances of the actors. Majcherek in Gazeta Wyborcza wrote: "In the show of this type it is hard to cheat, you can cover nothing with the staging or a director's idea. The characters strip off mentally, painfully, hurtfully and mercilessly, right under the spectator'' nose, and if they do not turn their vulnerability into power, they risk a defeat. I am pleased that Ewelina Pietrowiak with the actors takes such a risk. Even if the result is not yet perfect, it is, after all, valuable that the scorned style of the small, psychological theatre based on the word and revealing hidden thoughts and suppressed emotions appears, or revives, in this young directing approach. Such a theatre does not have to be old-fashioned or anachronistic, as it was not in its best years at the Ateneum theatre."

Agnieszka Michalak's judgement was even harsher: "Their conversations in places seem to be taken out from a provincial theatre. Landowska seems to be too resigned to the reality. Too brittle and quivering. The more and more fading hopes are not seen clearly enough in her Ewa.  Wiśniewska also ran short of courage. She created a resolute, saturated with evil character, yet it is hard to notice on her beautiful face the internal fight with the past, solitude and dreams. She is also too literal. Pietrowiak painted the portraits of women vaguely. She reduced Landowska's part to a little hysterical silly woman, and Wiśniewska's to a star that is overwhelmed with successes and money."

Agnieszka Michalak however pointed out the braveness in the selection of play: "Pietrowiak is brave. You need courage to stage Ingmar Bergman's script. Autumn Sonata is undoubtedly an outstanding work. And it is impossible to avoid comparisons to the master. All the more so because the director reconstructed almost one to one Bergman's ideas (copying even some costumes)."

Sources

  • Temida Stankiewicz-Podhorecka, Nasz Dziennik, No. 284, 071205
  • Janusz Majcherek, Gazeta Wyborcza, Section Warsaw, No. 279, 071129
  • Agnieszka Michalak, Dziennik, The Culture Section, No. 280 , 071130

Collaborators

  • Ingmar Bergman, Author
  • Zofia de Ines, Costume design
  • Ewelina Pietrowiak, Director
  • Zygmunt Lanowski, Translation
  • Ewa Wisniewska, Charlotte
  • Dorota Landowska, Eva
  • Katarzyna Lochowska, Helena
  • Krzysztof Gosztyla, Victor

Sonata Jesienna