nytheatre.com q&a preview by Wioleta Komar
September 20, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Actor, solo performer. I create a character of the greatest opera singer, Nora Sedler..
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born and raised in Europe, Northern Poland. Actually, I never thought of acting while I was growing up. I didn’t have teachers who inspired me, the way some people do. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when, during my second year at University in Slupsk (I majored in Resocialization), I heard about Theatre Rondo. It sounded interesting, different, powerful. I decided to go there, and knock on the door. I did—knock, and the door opened. That was twelve years ago, and I havn’t left theatre ever since. It became my home. I recited poetry, performed monodramas, started my own theater group, travelled around the world with the monodramas; won dozens of awards for acting, reciting poetry, theater directing. And, at the same time, graduated from Theatre Academy in Warsaw (Poland).
If you have appeared in United Solo, tell us what show(s) you have done here previously. What about your prior experience led you back to this festival?
I have appeared in United Solo in 2011. I performed DIVA successfully. I received an award for Best Actress. So, I am very excited to be back again and present DIVA twice this year!
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
DIVA is a shattering story of a battle with the demons of the past. A battle condemned to defeat from the outset. For it is not always possible to free oneself of memories. Despite the fact that there is no dearth of brutal and savage description in the script, the production is far from being another tale of the horrors of World War II. Diva is, to a greater extent, a story of the devastation and desolation that the Holocaust engendered in the psyche of those who were saved. The protagonist is an opera singer of ‘a certain age’, Nora Sedler. The world of opera can seem most peculiar to the uninitiated, very odd and yet fascinating at one and the same time. It is a world of beauty, a ‘fantastical’ world. But not for a person who has lived through horror upon horror. Not for a person who, in her youth, was raped time and again, used and abused time and again by the German officers in the ghetto. Not for a person who went straight from a world of luxury, from the opera houses of New York, Milan and Vienna, to the savagely brutal life of the ghetto and from there, to Auschwitz.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
YES!!! I have been involved in the education and development of people through theater. Additionally, for a long time I have been working with children and so-called troublesome and socially incompatible youth. In this kind of work I always look for alternative methods. So, I use theatre's educational influence. Moreover, I use drama techniques and widely understood art therapy. And it works. Those young children become less aggressive. Having partner relationships with youth enhances common trust which is extremely important as working with children usually ends with a drama performance. While working with children, it is essential to follow their ideas and way of thinking. Such a way of working with children I also affect other teachers and theatre instructors. I conduct theatrical workshops, such us 'Using theatrical techniques to stop aggression and peer violence' or 'Ways of using theatre in historical and patriotic education'. I publish my experience in methodological handbooks, professional journals as well as in academic publishing.