fot. Tomasz Szkodziński

11 November 2019 (Monday) 7:00 pm

STU Theatre

Jacek Cygan “Blue Shrimps”

directed by Krzysztof Jasiński, musical arrangement by Krzysztof Herdzin

Powszechny Theatre, ul. Legionów 21 — big audience


DIRECTED BY Krzysztof Jasiński


GERTRUDE Beata Rybotycka
OPHELIA Alicja Wojnowska

Costumes by Anna Czyż, Jagna Janicka and the screen by Maciej Rybicki were used in the spectacle. The mask was made by Jonathan Fröhlich.

Elżbieta Adamiak, Piotr Komorowski, Leopold Kozłowski, Seweryn Krajewski, Romuald Lipko, Walter Malgoni, Maciej Muraszko, Piotr Rubik, Ryszard Rynkowski, Stanisław Sojka, Grzegorz Turnau, Zbigniew Wodecki

LIGHTS Filip G±sior, Grzegorz Marczak
SOUND Stanisław Dziwisz, Jakub Ziółkowski
TECHNICIANS Krzysztof Kłosowicz, Barbara Kocaj, Tomasz Nowak, Bartłomiej Pełka, Marlena Piecz±tka, Urszula Sikora, Tadeusz Synowski


Jacek Cygan

He is the author of lyrics, a poet sometimes, an essayist and a librettist. He wrote over a thousand texts for the singing men and women, and children too. He is in complete dark as to how is actually happened. He published four volumes of poetry, starting with the Krakow publishing house Oficyna Literacka, thanks to which his “Drobiazgi liryczne” appeared in 1995. Then there was time for “Ambulanza” published by Bonobo in 2005, “Pies w tunelu” by Iskry in 2011 and “Boskie błędy” by BOSZ in 2017.

He also wrote a book “Klezmer, Opowie¶ć o życiu Leopolda Kozłowskiego-Kleinmana”, published by Austeria 2010, which was translated into German in 2012 by the publishing house Metropol Verlag in Berlin as “Der letzte Klezmer”. In 2014 he published a book “Życie jest piosenk±”, in which he included the stories of the songs he had written throughout his life and in 2016 there was a collection of stories called “Przeznaczenie, traf, przypadek”. Both books were published by Znak.

In 2014 there was a premiere of his play called “Kolacja z Gusłavem Klimtem” at the Krakow STU theatre directed by Krzysztof Jasiński. In 2016 this play was staged in German as “Abendessen mit Gustav Klimt” at the Pygmalion theatre in Vienna.

Jacek Cygan firmly believes that “Blue Shrimp” will one day be published in Melanesian and staged in New Caledonia after such a successful premiere at the STU theatre.

phot. Tomasz Szkodziński

“Blue Shrimps” — what’s this all about?

“Blue Shrimp” is a play for two actresses and songs. The actresses meet at the theatre cloakroom because “Hamlet” is on today. One of them plays the queen, Gertrude and the other one is Ophelia. The difference between them is the same as it is in Shakespeare and what can potentially differ an experienced actress from an up-and-coming one.

“Blue Shrimp” opens the door to the cloakroom for the audience, they allow to peep into the world that is normally sealed away for them. One may say — the theatre happens on stage, that is where human drama takes place and the characters of actors clash against each other. There, on stage, we can observe the high art and in the cloakroom we can only see the everyday life. Can life ever compete with the great art? Or perhaps this great arts starts in ordinary life, maybe the great creations begin in the cloakroom in the stories taking place there, in relationships between the actors, thus giving them motivation and power to play on stage?

There is a separate play in the cloakroom, it is different before every performance. It is always genuine, sad, happy, boring or mad, but always finishing with the same — entering the stage with someone else’s face, in a strange costume and with another person’s soul. I can honestly say — it was “Hamlet” staged at the STU theatre and directed by Krzysztof Jasiński that prompted me to write this play. I must have seen that play about eight times and I hereby say of my own free will that it the best ever “Hamlet” I had ever had the chance to watch. These two actresses are as if taken out of this performance, from this vision by Jasiński. In other words, they don’t just pretend that they play Gertrude and Ophelia, they really are these characters in this theatre.

Well then, two actresses come to the cloakroom an hour before the performance, in order to become Shakespeare’s characters. They come with all the burden of their life, with failures and catastrophes, plans and hopes, delights and disappointments. And there, in front of the mirror, there starts a ritual of transformation into the characters they are about to become on stage. This transition is not always a simple one because the so-called ordinary life tends to be jealous and wants to prove that life itself can be surprising too.

I would like to also explain to you what the blue shrimp do in all that. They really do exist! I read somewhere in “Hamlet” that there are a few dozen of animal species. The famous owl is an embodiment of that (“They say the owl was the baker’s daughter”); the owl is seen as symbol of sadness and thus Ophelia herself. Today, this Shakespearian menagerie expands by blue shrimp. Their role is now a mystery. But I do hope that the raven from “Macbeth” will accept them, just as the boar from “Richard III” or the weeping deer from “As you like it” will. They are just tiny refugees from the continent of imagination.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the presence of songs in this play, which makes it a “micro-musical” — a name I coined for myself. That is why “my” actresses speak through songs, they feel, laugh and cry through songs. It took me a few years to write those songs and then I just gave them to my friends composers and asked them to write music to go with the lyrics. In this way I would like to express my gratitude to them.

phot. Tomasz Szkodziński

Beata Rybotycka

A graduate of PWST in Krakow (1987). Between 1987-1997 she was an actress of the Krakow Stary theatre. In 1991 she joined the team of Piwnica Pod Baranami. She is known for her interpretations of pieces by Jan Kanty Pawlu¶kiewicz, Grzegorz Turnau, Andrzej Sikorowski, Andrzej Zarycki, Zbigniew Preisner. She had two solo records released: “Beata Rybotycka ¶piewa pie¶ni Jana Kaniego Pawlu¶kiewicza” and “Szurum burum” (where she cooperated with Jarosław ¦mietana). She sings in “Nieszpory LudĽmierskie” by Jan Kanty Pawlu¶kiewicz. The most widely recognised piece by her is “Kolęda dla nieobecnych” composed by Zbigniew Preisner. She sang the hit song “Miło¶ć ci wszystko wybaczy” in the film “The Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg. She also performs with her own recitals.

Since 1991 she has been an actress of the STU theatre and can be seen in, for example, “Zemsta” (as Podstolina), “Szczę¶liwe dni” (as Winnie), “Judy Garland. Na końcu tęczy” (as Judy Garland), “Biesy” (as Maria Lebiadkin), “Hamlet” (as Gertruda), “Roma i Juliana” (as Mother), “Mały Ksi±żę” (as Lis), “Rewizor” (as Anna), “Dom WyobraĽni” (as Dama z kluczem) and “Cabaret” (as Frulein Schneider).

phot. Tomasz Szkodziński

Alicja Wojnowska

Student of the 3rd year of the Krakow Academy of Theatre. She can be seen at the STU theatre in “Blue Shrimp” (Ophelia), “Hamlet” (Ophelia) and in “Zemsta” (Klara).

Below there is a tapescript of Jadwiga Rożek-Sieraczyńska’s interview with Alicja

We can see both female characters of the show in the cloakroom, when they are both getting ready to enter the stage — as Gertrude and Ophelia. This is what it is like in the performance by J. Cygan, but both of you act — as Gertrude and Ophelia — also in “Hamlet” at the STU theatre. The performance has been shown since 2000, you joined the cast not so long ago, as the eighth Ophelia in the history of this performance.

It is remarkable to be able to become a part of a spectacle that has been staged for almost 20 years at the theatre. The role of Ophelia is a dream role for a theatre debut of any young actress, and it is a great honour for me especially because, as yet another Ophelia, I can give a part of myself to this performance.

Are there any visible references to “Hamlet” by the STU theatre in “Blue Shrimp”?

Yes, we intended on that, we wanted such things to be abundant and for them to grow as the performance moves on. Therefore, there are quotes from “Hamlet” and the text that we are staging is based on the translation by Stanisław Barańczak and any references are also visible in the costumes, in a number of scenes me and Gertrude are wearing dresses from that performance. In “Blue Shrimp” there are also a few anecdotes that are just barely related to the theatre life and which were added during rehearsals, when Beata started to talk about her work, when she was a young actress and was finding herself in relationships with older colleagues and actors. These stories are incredibly funny.

Currently you are a student of 3rd year at the Krakow Theatre Academy. What can you learn from an experienced actress?

Everything. Ms Beata Rybotycka was, for example, helping me find my way in this complicated space of the STU theatre. You must play and give all yourself here and this is what I had never learnt. She gave me hints when to turn, when to look somewhere — because these were the places where the audience would be. I was not fully aware of that then. There were also situations like this — the director would give me a task to do and I would be trying it there but nothing would come out right. And Ms Rybotycka would just observe and at some point she would almost with one word, explain what she thought the director had had in mind. That helped a lot. Perhaps it is related to the fact that she is a woman.

While reading the text of “Blue Shrimp” we may Wonder whether they really are two actresses, two people or is it, perhaps, one character who meets herself from the past, who recalls some memory from the past.

We even had a photo like that, a montage — Ms Beata is looking into the mirror and there is my face. We are both wearing costumes from “Hamlet”, Gertrude sees her reflection in the mirror as Ophelia’s face, that is how she sees herself in the mirror. There is something about it. Older actresses once were at the beginning of their way too, Gertrude could have been Ophelia once. And may act as Gertrude one day.

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