250 lat teatru publicznego w Polsce
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2015 marks the 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF PUBLIC THEATRE IN POLAND.The celebration began on February 12, 2015 at the National Helena Modrzejewska Stary Teatr with a ceremony involving artists, creators, and representatives of public theaters and Prof. Małgorzata Omilanowska, Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

The evening ended with the unveiling of a new curtain created for the main stage of Stary Teatr in recognition of 250 YEARS OF PUBLIC THEATRE IN POLAND and with the staging of Trilogy, directed by Jan Klata.

On December 1, 2014 the Polish Sejm announced that 2015 would be the Year of Polish Theatre. This decision was connected with the fact that 250 years ago this November the first performance was delivered by a playing company founded at the initiative of King Stanisław August Poniatowski. The group served as the seed of the oldest public, national theater in Poland, which would eventually come to be known as Teatr Narodowy (The National Theater). The celebration consists not only of dozens of theater shows on a common theme that were produced throughout the country, but also of educational events, exhibitions, competitions, and activities in urban spaces.

The events are coordinated by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw.


2015 promises to be a year of celebration for Polish theatre. On exactly November 19, 2015, we will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first production by a group founded at the initiative of Stanisław August Poniatowski that would eventually develop into the first permanent, professional, public theatre in Poland.[…]

Between a Company and a Venture

Although the role played by Teatr Narodowy in Warsaw is well known and the theater’s importance goes without saying, the concept of “public theatre” needs to be explained and clarified. From an economic and organizational point of view, public theatre differs from other types of theaters (especially private ones) in that it is financed by public funding on both the national and local level due to its importance and value for social and individual life, as well as for Polish national and cultural heritage. […]

Theatre as Part of the Public Sphere

[...] Public theater should be accessible to everyone and open to a diversity of opinions and voices – even those that are not accepted by its practitioners (they can, and even should, approach them critically, polemicize with them, initiate debates about them). In this context, a unique problem is posed by the relationship to the authorities who administer public funds earmarked for theatre operations. Today, as in the past, this administration is sometimes used as a tool for political and ideological control. The boundary between, on the one hand, reasonable and necessary control aimed at ensuring economical use of taxpayers’ money, and on the other, ideological and political supervision are very fluid and difficult to formulate in strict legal terms. In order to avoid crossing this boundary, wisdom and maturity is required of both authorities and people of the theatre. Public theatre understood and implemented in this way stands a chance of becoming a space for creative and intellectual freedom, a tool for helping shape public life. [...]

Nor should we forget that public theatre is a meeting space, a social event that stands out against the backdrop of everyday life. It is a sign of prestige, an indicator of the health of the cultural environment – both citywide and regional – in which theatre exists and functions. Finally, it is a place to unwind. Today, it is also an institution whose operations involve far more than just preparing and presenting theatrical productions. Theaters organize discussions, workshops, and concerts, they function as galleries, publish books and periodicals, carry out educational projects... They serve as energetic cultural centers that are often interregional in scope and that transform the image of their home city, making it more attractive.
For centuries, theatre has been a place of particularly intense experiences. And it remains so to this day. Obsessed with spectacle, contemporary society abandons one theatre after another in search of the latest attractions. Yet the memory of what was experienced with full force in the theater is sometimes stronger than a memory recorded in a book, a monument, or a plaque. That’s why, in recalling what public theatre has already accomplished in Poland and in highlighting what it’s doing today, we repeat – with hope for the future – that THE THEATER IS A PLACE OF EXPERIENCE.

Prof. Dariusz Kosiński
Deputy Director of the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute

In Brief


The main event in the celebration of the 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF PUBLIC THEATRE IN POLAND, an event involving every single public theatre, is the universal, nationwide campaign enabling everyone in Poland to buy a theatre ticket for the symbolic price of 250 groszy.
The goal of the project is to highlight the role that theatre plays in contemporary life as a place to reflect, discuss, and share opinions. Public theatre, financed by public funds.
MAY 23 – the DAY OF PUBLIC THEATRE – shows will be performed at the special ticket price in every theater


A special website providing information about events connected with the anniversary. It contains descriptions of projects being implemented all over Poland, a calendar of events, virtual exhibitions, walking tours, radio interviews, and other related materials. All throughout 2015, it will be supplemented and expanded daily.


Citywide actions whose main goal is to spread culture on a local scale. Theatre-themed walking tours are organized for residents (and conducted by local tour guides). The proposed routes present an opportunity for an unconventional way of viewing and learning about the theatrical – and hence cultural – history of the city.


In September 2014, the Theatre Institute announced the Theatre Photography Contest, which consists of two categories: a contest for a series of photographs documenting the rehearsal process and the resulting theatre production, and a contest for “Theatre Photo of the Season.” The second category leaves it up to the photographer to determine how to interpret the subject. One of the prizes is that the winning photos will be exhibited outdoors or indoors in Polish cities in the form of a traveling exhibition.


An online compendium of knowledge on Polish theatre. An expanded platform that integrates existing digital resources on Polish theatre, source databases, and new archives, and an electronic library and reading room for digital periodicals, enabling users to make use of information organized in a traditional manner and to create their own histories by accessing a multitude of narratives. Dr. Wojciech Dudzik and Prof. Dariusz Kosiński are responsible for the supervising the project as a whole.


The Theatre Institute and Teatr Narodowy are joining forces to organize an international conference on the role and importance of national theatres throughout the world. The conference will take place on November 20 and 21 during the upcoming edition of the Meeting of National Theaters.


In February 2015, two virtual exhibitions prepared by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute “opened” at the Google Cultural Institute: “The History of National Theatre in Poland” (in cooperation with Teatr Narodowy) and “250 YEARS OF PUBLIC THEATRE IN POLAND.”

You can visit the exhibitions here


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