Monday, June 29, 2009

THEATER: Lincoln Center Festival Hosts Kraków Theater Company – NYC

Poland’s Narodowy Stary Teatr of Kraków will make its Lincoln Center Festival debut appearance with the U.S premiere of Krystian Lupa’s staged production of Kalkwerk (The Lime Works). The venture is presented with support from the Polish Cultural Institute

Based on Thomas Bernhard’s brutal, surrealist 1970 novel, Kalkwerk is the psychologically complex story of Konrad, a scientist mentally imprisoned by his obsessive work, and his crippled wife, whom he holds captive in an abandoned lime works.

Internationally renowned as one of the leading artists of our age, Polish director Krystian Lupa has worked in theaters all over Poland, as well as in Germany, Greece and Austria and in 2006 at the American Repertory Theatre in Boston. He has been honored with every major Polish theater award and numerous European honors.

Narodowy Stary Teatr, one of the oldest Polish professional theater companies, was formed in Kraków in 1781, and has remained an important part of Polish culture throughout its history. Since 1994, the Stary Teatr has been a member of the Union of European Theatres, an organization of the leading theater companies in Europe.

Performances begin July 14 through July 18, 2009, 7:00 pm at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater located at John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets. Kalkwerk is performed in Polish with English supertitles. The Running time is 4 hours with two intermissions.

Tickets are on sale at 212-721-6500, online at, and at the Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall Box Offices, 65th Street and Broadway.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

POPULAR CULTURE: Jane Krakowski's "Ice Cream Dreams" Webisodes

Breyers Ice Cream is encouraging Americans to re-discover classic films with a new, modern twist, with the help of "30 Rock" star Jane Krakowski. Krakowski lends her personality and humor to new webisodes to promote Breyers® Smooth & Dreamy™ ice cream at

The webisodes feature a modern take on two of Hollywood's most iconic romance films -- Gone with the Wind and King Kong. Green screen technology enables Krakowski to come face-to-face with Rhett Butler and King Kong, engaging in a dreamlike conversation that showcases her comedic talents through authentic, fresh dialogue.

"As an actress I've always dreamed of portraying classic characters like Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. Now, Breyers Smooth & Dreamy has given me a chance to star in modern, comedic twists of iconic Hollywood movies," said Krakowski. "The episodes show how today's woman would interact with Rhett Butler or King Kong in these romantic journeys."

To view the webisodes click onto the following direct links:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

NEWS: Michael Jackson’s Polish Connections

Photos: the original ticket for Jackson's only Polish concert
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Michael Jackson in 1996 in Warsaw.

Pop singer Michael Jackson died suddenly on Thursday at the age of 50. In an obiturary in the daily Dziennik, musician and composer Marcin Staniszewski said that although the man may have passed away, the artist is immortal: "It's true, Michael Jackson didn't record a single album in the past decade that could come close to his legendary 'Thriller' [of 1982]. But there's no doubt in my mind that with him the world has lost the man who - aside from the Beatles and Elvis Presley - exerted the most profound influence on popular music.”

Michael Jackson has had an interesting history with Poland. In 1997, news spread that the pop star intended to build an amusement park. In May 1997, he returned to Warsaw and signed a "preliminary letter of intent" stating his desire to develop the "Family Theme Park", and rough estimates placed Jackson's intended contribution at $300-500 million.

Michael Jackson had said that Poland was the country that had moved him the most. The project, called World of Childhood, was to have been built at an airfield near the capital, Warsaw, but a Polish government commission ruled that the site is unsuitable. Marek Kwiatkowski, an art historian, represented Jackson's interests in Poland.

The decision was challenged by the Mayor of Warsaw - Pawel Piskorski who had hoped to sign the contract, create thousands of jobs and boost tourism. An agreement was never reached with city authorities, and the investment eventually fell through in 2000 as a suitable site ould not be found and Jackson's financial situation worsened.

So impressed by Poland was the singer, dancer and songwriter that he announced he wanted "to buy a castle in the beautiful country" said Piskorski.

Jackson performed in Poland only once, on September 20, 1996, as part of the HIStory World Tour. The tour included a total of 82 shows, and was attended by a record-breaking 4.5 million fans. 120,000 people attended his concert in Warsaw's Bernowo Airport, which was the second largest audience of the tour (his concert in Prague drew 127,000 fans).

At that time he also met with President Aleksander Kwasniewski. "He was a king, an extraordinary talent but at the same time a very sensitive person," recalled the former president.
In recent years Jackson attached himself to billionaires in Poland and elsewhere around the world.
His comeback tour, titled This Is It, was scheduled to begin in July of this year.

EVENT: Polka Spree by the Sea (June 25-28) - Wildwood, NJ

CULTURE: Closing Events of the “Year of Grotowski in New York” (July 11-13) – NYC

July 10 – Panel Discussions at NYU Tisch School for the Arts
721 Broadway
Paratheatre and Theatre of Sources (7:00-8:30 pm)
Objective Drama (8:30-10:00 pm)
The panels bring together important contributors to Grotowski's research from the mid 70s through the 80s, including those who traveled with Grotowski on his expeditions to conduct field research, and those who served key leadership roles in his US-based research.
For more information:

July 11 and 12 – Film Series: Grotowski and His Legacy - The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s

Day 1: Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre and Theatre of Sources Period and Grotowski’s famous performances
6:00 pm – Akropolis, 85 min
8:30 pm – “The Constant Prince" by Jerzy Grotowski: Reconstruction 48 min Nienadowka, 1980, 59 min

Day 2: The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards and their current work
1:00 pm – Art as Vehicle, 60 min, Action in Aya Irini, 70 min
4:00 pm – Dies Iræ: The Preposterous Theatrum Interioris Show, 70 min

Walter Reade Theatre
165 W. 65th Street

Tickets: $11, $8 senior, $7 members & students; or at the box office (cash only)
For more information:

July 13 - Discussion at the Lincoln Center Festival
Thomas Richards and Mario Biagini, heirs of the Grotowski legacy will be moderated by Prof. Richard Schechner, Curator of the Year of Grotowski in New York. For the last 13 years of his life, Grotowski worked very closely with Thomas Richards, whom he called his "essential collaborator." When he passed away in 1999, he entrusted him and Mario Biagini, a key member of the Workcenter, with his entire body of written work. This discussion will center on Richards' and Biagini's continuation of Grotowski's work today.

6:30-9:30 pm
Rose Building, Kaplan Penthouse, 10th Floor
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
Tickets: admission free
For more information:

UNESCO has designated 2009—ten years after Grotowski’s death and 50 years since the founding of the Polish Laboratory Theatre—The Year of Grotowski. In New York, the Polish Cultural Institute and the Performance Studies Department, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU present Tracing Grotowski's Path: Year of Grotowski in New York.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

FOLKLORE: St John's Wort

The flowers of St John's Wort should be picked on it's most powerful day, St John's Day - June 24th.

Pick the flowers on St John's Eve, stand on them at midnight, and the spirits may take you away.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FILM: "Polska Love Serenade" - Washington, D.C.

Polska Love Serenade

Europe Laughs – Intercultural Comedies film series

Monday, July 6 - 6:30 pm

Goethe-Institut Washington, GoetheForum

812 Seventh Street, NW

Washington, DC


German Production, 2008, 75 min., DVD, German with English subtitles, Director:Monika Anna Wojtyllo, Cast: Claudia Eisinger, Sebastian Schwarz,Bozena Baranowska

An encounter in Poland between slick young attorney Max and Anna, an uncomplicated student. Although it’s not love at first sight, they choose to travel together and end up overcoming more than just mutual prejudices.

Monika Anna Wojtyllo is a German-Polish director, actor and screenwriter.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

LITERATURE: A Father's Day Tribute

The book cover of Lightning and Ashes; Author John Guzlowski (top right); Jan Guzlowski in a butcher's apron in DP Camp (bottom right)

To celebrate Father's Day is a feature by John Guzlowski a sequence from his book, Lightning and Ashes, which is available at:

The piece focuses on the work his father did when he first came to America after his ten years in the slave labor and DP camps in Germany.This piece not only celebrates what he accomplished, but also what the Poles of his generation brought to this country

From "Looking for Work in America

"What My Father Brought With Him

He knew death the way a blind man
knows his mother’s voice. He had walked
through villages in Poland and Germany

where only the old were left to search
for oats in the fields or beg the soldiers
for a cup of milk. He knew the dead,

the way they smelled and their dark full faces,
the clack of their teeth when they were desperate
to tell you of their lives. Once he watched

a woman in the moments before she died
take a stick and try to write her name
in the mud where she lay. He’d buried

children too, and he knew he could do any kind
of work a man could ask him to do.
He knew there was only work or death.

He could dig up beets and drag fallen trees
without bread or hope. The war taught him how.
He came to the States with this and his tools,

hands that had worked bricks and frozen mud
and knew the language the shit bosses spoke.

John Guzlowski's Polish-Catholic parents, Jan and Tekla, were victimized by the Nazis. His father, an orphan farm worker, became a slave laborer in the Buchenwald Concentration District. His mother, the child of a forest ranger, was also pressed into slave labor. Guzlowski himself was born in a refugee camp as a Displaced Person after WW II. Eventually, his family made their way to the United States, where Guzlowski became a professor and poet.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

FOLK CULTURE: Noc Świętojańska (St. John's Midsummer’s Eve)

by Staś Kmieć

The rituals may have changed over the centuries, but the Polish midsummer celebration known as Sobótka is still a time to people to gather and enjoy the warmth of the season with family and friends.

The night of merrymaking—also known as St. John’s Night or Noc Świętojańska—is still observed in parts of Poland and some Polish communities in the United States. It has its roots in magical pagan rituals that honored two important elements: Fire and Water. It is also a feast celebrating the Sun as a source of light and warmth on the longest day of the year, usually around June 23.

The name Sobótka was not common all over Poland. In Central Poland’s Mazowsze region and in Eastern Poland—as well as in Ukraine—midsummer was known under a name of Kupałnocka or Kupala.

The ancient tradition is to burn bonfires, bathe in open waters at sunset, and sing and dance until midnight.

Young maidens dressed in white, with wreaths of yellow and white wild flowers upon their heads would set afloat candled wreaths on the rivers, in hopes that a fitting mate would find the wreath when fishing and fall in love with them. The rite is known as “Rzucanie Wianków” (throwing of wreaths). In Slavic tradition the wianek is a symbol of unmarried state—maidenhood.

The maidens would throw herbs to the fire, in hopes that it would protect them from evil. To demonstrate their agility, the young men would jump over fires.At midnight the search for the elusive fern’s flower would begin as the “unmarried” ran into forest.

If you found the flower of fern, the wishes of life may be fulfilled. A lucky man returning with the flower would wear the flowered wreath of his engaged on his head.

In Slavic religion, Kupala is the goddess of herbs, sorcery, sex, and midsummer. She is also the Water Mother, associated with trees, herbs, and flowers. Her celebration falls upon the Summer solstice in June.

After Poland embraced Christianity in 966, its ancient traditions were replaced with Catholic ones. In the 14th century, the bishop of Poznan banned celebrations held on the eves of holy days. However the pagan rituals were often linked to Catholic feast days. Respectful of the Church, the celebration was moved ahead to the night of St. John the Baptist—June 24th being Sobótka, his feast day.

In some regions, such as Kraków and Kielce in South Poland, festivities take place a few weeks earlier. This time was called Zielone Świątki (Whitsunday feast), and was later also incorporated with Pentecost. In 1468 King Kazimierz Jagiello—on demand of the abbot of St. Cross Monastery—banned pagan festivities taking place in Łysa Gora (Bald Mountain), a place where, legend has it, witches’ sabbats took place.

Poet Jan Kochanowski, who participated in these festivities in his youth, wrote a description of the night in his “Piesń o Sobótce.” Today, the celebrations known as Wianki include music, dancing, fireworks, boat parades and lighting bonfires.

EVENT: Wianki Celebration on June 20 - Washington, D.C.

Girls wearing wreaths of flowers prepare for St. John’s Night, a centuries-old Polish celebration of the Summer solstice. This event, sponsored by the Polish American Association of Washington, D.C., was held at the Reflecting Pool at the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial. —photo: Richard Poremski

Polish American Arts Association of Washington DC
cordially invites you to

Summer solstice Festival of Wreaths on the Feast of St. John

Saturday, June 20, 2009, 6:00 - 10:00 PM
Relfecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial Steps.


On Saturday, June 20, 6-10 PM there will be a Festival of Wreaths, “Wianki,” sponsored annually by THE POLISH-AMERICAN ARTS ASSOCIATION of Washington, DC held at the Lincoln Memorial. The Festival of Wreaths, is celebrated with Polish music by Brothers-in-Law Plus Band and dance performances by traditional Polish dance groups, including Michas Dance Group of Virginia Beach and Janosik Polish Dance Ensemble of Philadelphia.

At dusk, the young ladies carry their flower wreaths lit by candles to the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial monument. The old legend tells that whoever finds the wreath is the future groom.This year for the first time, a sing-along accompanied by an accordion and violin will bring Polish families and friends even closer by singing the old traditional folk songs of Poland.

It is a special day for new folks to come and enjoy the evening and it is a tradition to some folks to come back and enjoy the Polish culture. The Polish-American Arts Association was organized on January 1986, as an affiliate of the American Council for Polish Culture, a national organization founded in 1948 for the preservation of Polish cultural, literary, and folk traditions in the United States.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

MUSIC: Motion Trio from Krakow - Washington, D.C.

Motion Trio from KRAKOW, POLAND is a unique phenomenon on the European and worldwide music scene. Performing their own music, the group is changing the way the accordion is perceived as an instrument.
Friday, June 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm
For tickets call 202.625.2361 or order online at
CALL 202.625.2361

THEATER: Broadway's "Irena's Vow" scheduled to close on June 28 – NYC

Broadway's Irena's Vow, starring four-time Tony Award-nominee Tovah Feldshuh, announced its final performance on Sunday, June 28th following 21 previews and 105 performances

"Our play, which has truly become the 'People’s Choice,' has been moving audiences to laughter and tears at each and every performance. But unless business improves over the next two weeks, we will sadly be forced to close the production,” said producer Daryl Roth. “We have recently been blessed by the attendance of Archbishop Timothy Dolan who, after seeing the play, has become an extremely vocal supporter of Irena’s Vow and is enthusiastically spreading the word."

Irena's Vow is the uplifting true story about one of the most courageous and unsung heroines of World War II. During the German occupation of Poland, Irena Gut, a Polish Catholic, was forced to work as head housekeeper for a very prominent Nazi major. Over a two year period of service, Irena would risk her own life in order to save the lives of twelve Jewish refugees whom she secretly took under her care. Irena's Vow is the extraordinary story of one woman's choice and the twelve lives that would ultimately be saved — or lost — by her decision.

Tickets are available by visiting or by calling (212) 239-6200. The Walter Kerr Theatre is located in Manhattan at 219 West 48th Street.

For more information visit

Saturday, June 13, 2009

THEATER: Sławomir Mrożek's "Out at Sea" – Washington, DC

The newly founded Ambassador Theater is presenting a production of Sławomir Mrożek's Out at Sea (Na pełnym morzu) at the Flashpoint-Black Box Theater, 916 G St, NW, Washington, D.C.

The one-act play is directed and produced by Hanna Bondarewska.

Three men find themselves on a makeshift raft in the middle of the ocean. With hunger setting in and no hope of rescue, they discuss the limited available sources of sustenance. The hilarious conversation that ensues explores the folly of human nature in all its comedy and pathos, as well as the way that class, politics, and Darwinian natural selection intrude upon even the smallest of communities.

Previews: June 8 and 9 at 8 pm
(no tickets for previews - just pay what you can)

Opening: June 16, 2009 at 8 pm - followed by a wine reception
Shows: June 17, June 21 - 24 at 8 pm
June 21 at 3 pm
July 13 - 16 at 8 pm

General Admission is $25/ Students: $15
For tickets click here

THEATER: Ticket Deal for Broadway's "Irena's Vow"

The Broadway production of Irena’s Vow is offering discount ticket prices to performances (see above notice). The production is a must-see for anyone of Polish background.

Irena's Vow's attendance numbers could benefit from Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan’s attendance on Saturday. Archbishop Dolan said on Tuesday that he would deliver a homily about the play, which he called “very uplifting,” and discuss it on his weekly radio show, publicity the producers would welcome, given that the theater has not been full in recent weeks.

Irena producers are referring, hopefully, to the archbishop’s praise as the “Obama effect,” a reference to the box office improvement for Joe Turner's Come and Gone recently, after President Obama and the first lady, Michelle, attended the play. Weekly grosses for Joe Turner increased by $93,000, or more than 30 percent, right after the Obamas’ visit.

For Groups of 10 or More, CLICK HERE

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CONCERT: Theodore Bikel to Perform at Carnegie Hall – NYC

Theodore Bikel sang from the time he was a child. He sang with his parents at home and in the Vienna woods. Then his talents made their way to stage and screen and to world acclaim.

On June 15 Theodore Bikel: The First 85 Years will celebrate the actor's rich career devoted to art and activism at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The 7:30 pm concert in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage will boast the talents of Alan Alda, Arlo Guthrie, Rosemary Harris, David Amram, Beyond the Pale, Artie Butler, Patricia Conolly, Judy Kaye, David Krakauer, Tom Paxton, Serendipity 4 (Shura Lipovsky, Merima Kljuco, Tamara Brooks and Bikel), Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, Susan Werner and Michael Wex.

Proceeds will benefit Juvenile Law Center, which works to protect children's rights and interests in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

On Broadway Bikel originated the role of Baron von Trapp in The Sound of Music opposite Mary Martin, receiving a Tony nomination for his performance. He received a second nomination for The Rope Dancers. Among his many celebrated performances, he is known for his portrayal of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof – a role he has performed over 2000 times during the past 37 years, more than any other actor.

Bikel also has a rich film career. His first movie role was in African Queen and he has since made more than 35 films including: The Enemy Below, The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming, The Little Kidnappers, My Fair Lady, I Want To Live and The Defiant Ones, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

He has starred in virtually every top dramatic show on TV including: Law And Order, All In The Family, Dynasty, Murder She Wrote, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, Little House on The Prairie, The Twilight Zone, The Final Days (as Henry Kissinger), L.A. Law and Columbo. He received an Emmy Award in 1988 for his portrayal of the title role in PBS's Harris Newmark

Bikel had lent his voice to the narration of numerous documentaries including many on Polish themes such as: Klezmer Musicians Travel Home" to Krakow, The Last Chapter, The Desperate Ones, and Lodz Ghetto.

He has given concerts at the annual Kraków Festival of Jewish Culture, and appeared as a Old-World Polish grandfather singing “Leć Ptaszku” in an independent American short film.

As a member of the nominating committee for The Academy Awards – Best Foreign Language Picture category, he was recently part of the process that chose the Andrzej Wajda film, Katyń.

He is tireless in his work and his one-man show titled Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears continues to enthrall audiences across the US.

Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage is located at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue in New York City. For tickets, priced $30-$500, visit

– Staś Kmieć

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LITERATURE: Kościuszko on C-Span TV and Book Signing Event - NYC

Author Alex Storozynski
will present a multi-media presentation about:

The Peasant Prince, 
Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution

     Saturday, June 13, 4 p.m.
     Sunday, June 14, at 6 p.m. 
     and midnight    
          Check your local cable listings 

Alex Storozynski Book Signing at Barnes & Noble
82nd Street and Broadway, NYC
Monday, June 22, 7 p.m. 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

THEATER: A little "Polish" on Broadway

THEATER: "Irena's Vow" on Broadway (Review)

One Woman. Twelve Lives. Only One Choice
Irena’s Vow Opens on Broadway
by Staś Kmieć

[Editor's note: the Off-Broadway production of Irena’s Vow was fully reviewed in PAJ’s November issue]

Irena's Vow, a riveting play of a Polish Catholic woman's story of risk and salvation and the lives that hang in the balance of her conscience, transferred to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre from its Off-Broadway sold-out engagement.

With enhanced production values and cohesive harmony, this fine-tuned production surpasses the original incarnation with emotional depth and shading. This is a play that every Pole should experience.

Framed as a flashback, Irena re-experiences the harrowing ordeal of WWII Poland and the hiding of Jews during the Holocaust, while in servitude under a high-ranking German officer. Tovah Feldshuh brings a tour-de-force performance to her detailed portrayal, and it is her acting prowess that makes her transformation to the young Irena theatrically plausible. Her work transcends the script and anchors the production.

Dan Gordon's script is uneven, and at times melodramatic and heavy handed, but the moments of searing emotion still elicit tears, even upon second viewing. His powerful account is gripping. Despite the serious subject matter, there a several humorous moments of relief.

For practical purposes, only three of the Jews in hiding are introduced, and they have been further developed and nuanced. Maja Wampuszyc (Ida Hallar) and Tracee Chimo (Fanka Silberman) bring a deep realism of desperation and optimism to their work that cuts into the viewer's soul. There is more subtlety of character, dimension and backbone.

Thomas Ryan (Major Rugemer) has taken full control bringing subtleties and greater depth to his role. Sandi Carroll brings a touching urgency to her character Helen’s plight as the Catholic with a Jewish husband. The solid cast is completed by noteworthy moments by Steven Hauck (the silent, yet knowing Schultz), Gene Silvers (Lazar Hallar), and the John Stanisci as the fierce and understated Sturmbannführer Rokita.

Quentin Chiappetta's sound design is appropriate and unobtrusively chilling; Kevin Judge's stark set has evolved to include important cultural accents; and Astrid Brucker's authentic costumes, David Castaneda's evocative lighting, and Alex Koch's enhanced projection design contribute notably to the collaboration.

Until the end of May, at play's conclusion, Irena's daughter, Janina appeared on stage to answer questions, and offer fascinating insight about her mother.

With solid direction by Michael Parva, the play moves quickly and efficiently through the 90 minutes without intermission. If you are planning a trip to New York – go see this play.

Irena's Vow has an open-ended run at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St.

Note: Hollywood has already optioned the play for a feature film and Scarlett Johansson is being considered for the role of "Young Irena."

THEATER: Broadway in Review – NYC

Monday, June 1, 2009

LITERATURE: Kościuszko Book Signing Event - Greenpoint-Brooklyn, NY

EVENT: Polish Folk Dance Party - Willow Grove, PA


On May 3, 2009, the Janosik Polish Folk Dance Ensemble sponsored a Polish folk dance party at the Professional Dance Academy in Willow Grove, PA.

Festivities included group instruction of regional dances from Lublin, Cieszyn, and Nowy Sącz as well as the national dance, the Polonez, by artistic director, Monique Legaré.

Participants were invited to wear traditional Polish costumes and footwear and participate in the costume parade. Costumes from the regions of Krakow, Rzeszów, Lublin, Cieszyn, Opoczno, Wielkopolska, Kaszuby, Kujawy, Mazury, Podhale, and Łowicz were all represented.

A highlight of the afternoon’s celebration included a performance by the ensemble of the Krakowiak, the Kołomajki, and dances from Wielkopolska.
As part of any Polish celebration, traditional Polish cookies, cakes, and rolls, as well as other light fare were enjoyed by all.

If you are interested in either attending Janosik’s training class or in having the group perform at your function, please call our Business Manager, Ann Louise Pyzik-Colduvell at 215-295-9330.

For more pictures from the event, visit and click on "NEWS."