19 edycja

Catherine the Great

Performed by Stefan Żeromski Theatre in Kielce and prepared by Janiczak/Rubin duo, the recipients of the Paszport Polityki (Polityka’s Passport) annual award and the winners of the Grand Prix at the 9th Polish Contemporary Plays Festival R@Port in Gdynia, “Catherine the Great”is a daring story of the empress told from the feminist and critical perspective. It became a resounding success in Poland in the season of 2012/13. Reviewers described it as, among, others, “a challenge to the men’s world,” and “history told as a porn tale.”

In the “Wprost” magazine no 5 Łukasz Maciejewski wrote:

If you want to see the most interesting and at the same time the most subversive history play of the season, there is no other way but to go to Kielce. “Catherine the Great” at Stefan Żeromski Theatre in Kielce is a tour de force performance directed by Wiktor Rubin, in which Marta Scisłowicz’s phenomenal acting brilliantly shows a liberated woman struggling against the uniform of cultural oppression. Catherine the Great known from history books is an infamous beast in a female body, associated with the partitions of Poland, tyranny, cruelty, and insatiable appetite of not only sexual nature.

The playwright, Jolanta Janiczak, uses the monarch as an example of the mythology of lies in which Catherine becomes the symbol of femininity that makes decisions, holds the cards, but also pays the price of cultural estrangement for her high ambitions. The key for interpretation is the body and sexuality. Catherine stands naked before the audience: literally and metaphorically. The costumes from the epoch are hung above the stage, and a contemporary girl “in white” portrays the mythological and historical figure. She has to be naked so that, like in the “Pillow Book” by Greenaway, she can write history on her own body. 

Performance in Polish with English subtitles

Playwright: Jolanta Janiczak
Director: Wiktor Rubin
stage design: Mirek Kaczmarek

cast: Joanna Kasperek, Dawid Żłobiński, Marta Ścisłowicz, Beata Pszeniczna, Wojciech Niemczyk, Ewelina Gronowska, Tomasz Nosinski, Andrzej Plata, Dagna Dywicka, Edward Janaszek