Bazaar Festival: PYGMALION / Wojtek Ziemilski (PL)

In English
performance length: 45 min
Using languages of choreography, visual installation and documentary theatre to share a personal story about communication and its discontents, this is an exercise in extreme empathy: we don’t have access to the other person, yet we try to imagine how it is to be them.

Performance takes place at Studio ALTA.


A tear-jerker about a working-class girl raised by a high-minded profesor to the level of a true bourgeois? Nothing of the sort. This ”Pygmalion” holds a more important and interesting message. It is a story of the conditioning we all have to go through to be able to participate in culture. Of the skills we have to acquire to deserve respect.

Wojtek Ziemilski takes from Shaw’s “Pygmalion” the main idea and subverts it, building a performative event around it. The piece brings the viewer into the situation of a meeting when we pass on not so much knowledge as emotional experience. The director explains: “It is an exercise in extreme empathy. We don’t have access to the other person, yet we try to imagine how it is to be them. Not the person but their way of functioning in the world, moving among others, building relationships.” Ziemilski’s “Pygmalion” is part of the series “We, The Bourgeois”. No wonder then that traces of Bildung can be detected here, as it is a concept absolutely central to the bourgeois idea of education as initiation into culture.

Wojtek Ziemilski is a theatre director and visual artist. He creates multi-disciplinary works using a variety of forms taken from the performing and visual arts. He graduated from the theater directing course at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal. After returning to Poland in 2008, his first projects earned him media attention as “the hot new name of Warsaw theater” (Gazeta Wyborcza), and “the rising star of Polish culture” (Duzy Format). He is the author of, among others, Small Narration (2010, shown in over 20 countries) and Prolog (2011, first ever Polish show at the Ruhrtriennale). He was the author of the contemporary art blog As a lecturer at the Warsaw University he teaches contemporary approaches to theater making with a particular focus on devising techniques, the new dance’s (so-called “non-danse”) input into theatricality, and its use on stage. Since 2015 he runs XS - an art centre focused on performative practices - theatre, dance, performance art, and other forms of art which work within a performative framework. He was one of the authors of the 2014 artivist action Golgota Picnic Polska which happened across Poland, protesting the canceling of Rodrigo Garcia's show Golgotha Picnic.

Director: Wojtek Ziemilski
Set designer, assistant director, video: Wojtek Pustoła
Performer: Rozalia Mierzicka
Light design: Karolina Gębska
Light technician: Dariusz Zabiegałowski
Curator: Tomasz Plata
Consultant: Sebastian Świąder
Production coordinator: Izabela Żerek / Angelika Topolewska
Producer: Centrum Kultury w Poznaniu
Coproducer: Komuna// Warszawa

Premiere: 25.10.2014 (Poznaň), 7.11.2014 (Warsaw)

Presented in Prague in collaboration with the
Supported by: Project co-financed by the Municipality of Warsaw and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
Special thanks: Joanna Klass, Grzegorz Laszuk, Sean Palmer, Marysia Stokłosa, Małgorzata Wdowik, Anna Wojnarowska