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Białoszewski do słuchu, vol. 1 - Theatre

Release Date: IV 2014; Współwydawca: Fundacja
Total Time: 52:19 | 39:46
2CD | 10 page folded insert | digipack

CD 1

1. Miron Białoszewski: "Wyprawy krzyżowe"
Text: Miron Białoszewski
Voices: Miron Białoszewski (Baldwin), Lech Emfazy Stefański (Hybryda)
Recorded by Polskie Radio, Warszawa 1956.

2. Miron Białoszewski, Ludwik Hering: "Osmędeusze"
Text: Miron Białoszewski, Ludwik Hering
Voice: Miron Białoszewski
Recorded by Miron Białoszewski and Jadwiga Stańczakowa, Warszawa, early 1980s.

CD 2

Patryk Zakrocki: "Osmędeusze, czyli ulotności i bazgroły"
Composed and peformed by Patryk Zakrocki
Text: Miron Białoszewski, Ludwik Hering
Voice: Miron Białoszewski

ZREALIZOWANO Z UDZIAŁEM ŚRODKÓW MINISTERSTWA KULTURY I DZIEDZICTWA NARODOWEGO

 


JW Player goes here

I bought a tape recorder for four thousand. When you come to Warsaw in May or June, we could do some recording. It's a good activity. Interesting to everyone.

Miron Białoszewski, April 1965


In April 1965, Miron Białoszewski buys a tape recorder. He intends to record “A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising” he is currently writing, and “test himself” by performing and registering his poems on tape. Since then, in the flat at Dąbrowskiego the reels often spin, while Białoszewski reads, dictates, recites and sings to the microphone. Apart from “A Memoir...” which is entirely dictated into the tape recorder and then typed down “by ear”, in the next 2 years, he registers works of Mickiewicz, Słowacki and Norwid, fragments of the Gospel of Matthew, “Stabat Mater” and “Dies irae” hymns in his own translation, poems from the collections “The Revolution of Things” and “Było i było”, vespers sang together with Leszek Soliński and private conversations with friends.

Białoszewski treats the tape recorder as both a work tool and a toy, a gadget used for entertainment, whereas recording itself becomes a substitute for ever regretted performances of the home theatre he's been planning to revive since the closure of Teatr Osobny in 1963. In the course of time these plans appear decreasingly feasible, his works on “A Memoir...” are almost finished and Białoszewski ceases writing poems in favour of his dedication to prose. His enthusiasm about tape recording diminishes and finally, he quits the activity for quite a few years.

In the mid 1970s, his interest in it is aroused again due to the poet's acquaintance with Jadwiga Stańczakowa. In order to secure his blind friend free access to his works, Białoszewski decides to record them on tapes on a regular basis. This time recording sessions take place in Jadwiga's flat by her portable tape recorder Grundig MK 232. For the next few years, right after writing a new poem or a fragment of prose, Białoszewski – sometimes in the middle of the night – arrives at Hoża and, as Stańczakowa recalls, “in rupture and exhilaration – he records it all”. This is how this intriguing practice is established: the author's first reading of the text aloud and its recording on tape complete and finalize the process of writing. By 1982, the majority of the poet's late output is registered on tapes: hundreds of short poems, “Chamowo”, “Zawał”, fragments of “Rozkurz” and “Tajny dziennik” as well as “A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising” and “Szumy, zlepy, ciągi”. Many of his works are recorded by Białoszewski in the professional studio of the Polish Radio which, at Stańczakowa's instigation, he often visits from the mid 1970s.

This way, during the 17 years an unusual sound archive is created – an archive which constitutes a remarkable phenomenon in the Polish culture, both due to its volume (12 preserved tapes from the 1960s and several dozen tapes recorded in Jadwiga Stańczakowa's home altogether add to over 80 hours of materials, without even counting those maintained in the radio archives) and with regards to the nature of those recordings and their place among other Białoszewski's accomplishments. They are closely related with his characteristic vision of literature.

“I strive for the written to register the spoken. And I wish writing wouldn't eat speaking. What is found valuable in the spoken language, gets written down. What is valuable in the written language, is then spoken out loud”, he wrote in “Mówienie o pisaniu”. He called the invention of quiet reading a misunderstanding. He also declared, “I always considered poetry as something to be read aloud […] Poetry reaches its full being when it is spoken out loud.”

If, according to Białoszewski, a poem only starts to fully exist in being performed aloud, it is the recordings that give us the fullest insight into the matter of his creative output and let us truly see how these texts were intended by their author. Graphic notation is merely a score requiring a complementary voice, while proper pieces should be “fully heard”. This is confirmed by Białoszewski's own performances recorded on tapes. The author uses tempo, rhythm, the voice volume and melody with intensity to be rarely encountered in the Polish tradition of poetic readings, and thus he makes the sound one of the basic dimensions of his texts.

Despite the above, in reception of Białoszewski's output, the recordings have not occupied a position they deserve. Kept as a part of the collection of the Museum of Literature in Warsaw, they are only known to the small circle of experts and the poet's close friends. The series “Białoszewski by Ear” is the first to bring them to light and make them available to the wider audience.

 

***

 

5 programmes, 13 plays and around 300 performances for 14000 viewers – this summarizes accomplishments of the home theatre run together by Miron Białoszewski, Ludwik Hering and Ludmiła Murawska in the years 1955-1963. In this “three-person” theatre, Białoszewski was an actor and author of most texts, Hering – his mentor and friend – was a director, stage designer but also an initiator, author and co-author of part of their texts, while Murawska co-created stage design and in the course of time, also became an actress. Performances used to be held in private flats. At first, on Tarczyńska Street, in the home of Lech Emfazy Stefański, a poet and Białoszewski's friend. It was him who, together with Bogusław Choiński, came up with the idea of “playing with theatre” at his place. The initiative shortly turned into Teatr na Tarczyńskiej, the first avant-garde stage and one of the first venues of the artistic avant-garde in post-Stalinist Poland. It alternately hosted theatre programmes prepared by the Białoszewski-Hering-Murawska group and by Stefański and Choiński.

Back then, an independent, artistic enclave functioning outside of the official culture controlled by the state was a rarity. The fame of Tarczyńska, spread by word of mouth, rapidly made it one of the most popular places on Warsaw's cultural map. During theatrical evenings, Stefański's room used to burst at the seams – a single performance could be attended by as many as 100 people.

When, in 1958, Białoszewski received a flat on the Dąbrowski Square, the three-person theatre separated from Teatr na Tarczyńskiej. Since then it operated under the name “Teatr Osobny” and its programmes were shown in Białoszewski's new apartment where a small niche functioned as the theatre stage. This successfully lasted for a few following years until the group disunited and the theatrical niche was permanently occupied by the poet's couch.

The album “Białoszewski by Ear – Volume I” is the first publication of archival sound recordings of originally performed Białoszewski and Hering's plays. The recordings included in this album, together with “Pieśni na krzesło i głos” contained in the second volume of the series, are a complete collection of the preserved audio materials documenting the theatre's output.

“Wyprawy krzyżowe” were registered in the Polish Radio recording studio in 1956, shortly after its premiere. The two-person cast included the author of the text and Lech Emfazy Stefański. The former assumes a role of a crusader – knight Baldwin. The latter personifies Hybryda, a shape-changing figure who appears before Baldwin respectively as the knight Symeon, a female templar, a talking icon and an Arabic virgin. The play opens with a prologue taking place in a queue at the butcher’s. The butcher's expression “pierwsza krzyżowa” (which names a particular cut of beef, but also relates to an expression meaning “the first crusade”) shifts the action to the Middle Ages, metaphorically equating the shambles with the crusade.

At the theatre, transitions between the scenes were indicated by the changes of costumes and props. These are missing in the recording, therefore the plot structure gets blurry, while the expressive language and its sound is brought to the forefront. Thus, the audio version of “Wyprawy...” is primarily a great parody of classic historical novels and poems. Białoszewski reduces their style to absurdity by accumulating pseudo-medieval expressions, grotesque names and a mixture of calls and words from different languages – chanted, sung along sacral hymns' melodies, jabbered with the speed of a machine gun and recited in a deadpan manner. The absurd language unveils the absurd vision of history in the spirit of Alfred Jarry’s works.

Although the premiere of “Osmędeusze” took place in April 1957, Białoszewski recorded this play on tape only many years later. In this “signboard oratorio”, he played Przedstawiacz: he spoke and sang on behalf of 18 characters and two choirs. He was accompanied by Ludmiła Murawska who – in the role of Pomagierka  – brought on stage signboards symbolizing the characters and performed their gestures. Her role, however, was silent. Therefore, Białoszewski's solo performance, registered in the early 1980s, is a full reenactment of the sound layer of the spectacle. It also contains an additional fragment written by Hering in November 1980 for the staging prepared by Tadeusz Słobodzianek: a part of Łysa z kotem.

The drama itself, inspired and co-written by Hering, is a witty game with the conventions of street folklore typical of pre-war Warsaw. An ambiguous plot of the play – a tragic love story – must be put together by the audience from fragments and scraps picked out from the stream of rumours spread by cemetery women at Powązki or divergent accounts of numerous characters. Their statements are stylized as melodramatic songs and street ballads – each of them uttered or sung by Białoszewski along different rhythms and melodies. All this serves to revive the lost “closed epoch of the suburbs” together with the lyrical power of its street poetry.

Maciej Byliniak

 

***

Miron Białoszewski infected me with his private trance preserved in his home recording of Osmędeusze. Thus, I also gave vent to this hidden madness we are capable of towards ourselves and I kept recording parts of home instruments and voices. I would also like to sing and talk but Miron took precedence. I used a similar technology to his in order to go beyond time, unite our recording studios located in the kitchens and bedrooms and complete his ”Osmędeusze” with mine.

Patryk Zakrocki





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