The Theatre of Tadeusz Kantor - Lecture by Michal Kobialka
Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990), painter, theatre director, stage designer, actor, writer, and theoretician, was one of the most influential multi-disciplinary artists of the 20th century. His stage works, Gesamtkunstwerke, that synthesize drama, staging, spectacle and music, articulate new conceptions of time and space and of the object; they challenge history caught in the act of archiving the events in absolute space and absolute time by articulating the materiality of memory. As Boston College Scholar-in-Residence, Michal Kobialka, the preeminent and internationally acclaimed authority on Kantor will present a 4-day lecture/screening series fromNovember 15 through November 18 entitled Tadeusz Kantor – A Brief Topography of Representation. In addition to Kobialka’s four presentations, the series also includes screenings of The Dead Class, Wielopole, and Today is my Birthday. The Kantor project will be framed by discussions of Kantor’s machines and objects, the idea of mnemotechnics and historiography, as well as the exploration of late style. Kantor is considered among the most influential theater directors of the past century and yet his work is relatively little known in the United States compared to Europe and the Far East.
Tadeusz Kantor’s work is an example par excellenceof the disintegration of the boundaries between his work as a theatre director, stage designer, and a visual artist. As he noted in one of his essays, “I am not a director who paints; neither am I a painter who directors.” His artistic endeavors, the medium notwithstanding, materialize Kantor’s thought regarding visual arts—thus, interdisciplinarity, which animates today’s conviction that humanistic inquiry (work in language culture, art, philosophy, media, and communications, for example) is central to the intellectual project of any liberal arts community. This series of presentations will focus on Tadeusz Kantor’s understanding of the concept of interdisciplinarity, space and the object, as well as memory and history, as developed in Kantor’s theoretical writings and in his productions from The Return of Odysseus (1944) to Today is My Birthday (1990). The emphasis will be on the different stages in the development of Kantor’s ideas, as marked by his experiments with the so-called Autonomous Theatre (parallel construction of space), Informel (matter), the Zero Theatre (marginalized objects), the Happening (the space and the practices of the everyday life), the Impossible Theatre (the process of rupturing the continuum of a sense of perception), and the Theatre of Death (Room/Inn of Memory, objects and bio-objects). Equally important, the emphasis will be the tension that exists between Kantor’s understanding of interdisciplinarity, space and the object, as well as memory and history embedded for him in the historical conditions of the twentieth century and, for us, in the role of the humanities and fine arts in establishing and changing our critical understanding of those conditions.
All lectures and screenings will be held in Devlin 101:
(1) Thursday, 11/15, 7-9 pm: "Tadeusz Kantor's Objects & Machines"
(2) Friday,11/16, 7-10 pm: Presentation followed by a screening of The Dead Class
(3) Saturday, 11/17, 7-10 pm: Presentation followed by Wielopole, Wielopole
(4) Sunday, 11/18, 3-6 pm: Presentation followed by Today is My Birthday
Michal Kobialka,Professor of Theatre in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota, has published over 100 articles, essays and reviews and is the author of two books on Tadeusz Kantor’s theatre, A Journey Through Other Spaces: Essays and Manifestos, 1944-1990 and Further on, Nothing: Tadeusz Kantor’s Theatre. He has presented papers on medieval, eighteenth-century and contemporary European theatre, as well as theatre historiography at various regional, national, and international conferences.
Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 7:00pm
Devlin Hall, Room 101
Devlin Hall, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467