The premiere of SORCERY, the secondo GARDZIENICE production based on Part Two of Adam Mickiewicz’s Dziady [Forefathers’ Eve] took place in May 1981 in the San Pietro Alle Stinche hermitage near Florence. Work on the production lasted for about a year.
In Staniewski’s view, there is a "contrasting rhythm" in Forefathers’ Eve – the most internally dramatised work of the poet – fusing the elements of high and low culture. Mickiewicz, referring to folk wisdom, wanted to create a Slavic dramatic masterpiece, corresponding in its greatness to the models of Greek tragedy.
Staniewski did not put on the whole of Forefathers’ Eve. He did not propose any new interpretation. On the other hand he repeated Adam Mickiewicz’s creative procedure, treating his work as a cultural fact of uncommon importance, which was worth seeing in a situation that was at the same time traditional and theatrical – in a context that was closer to its beginnings. SORCERY arose from fragments of the poet’s texts and from the songs collected during the Expeditions and from the gestures and behaviour of village people. They same from the same earth, had the same rhythm, were based on the same substratum. The present day songs sung on the border of Poland and Byelarus transferred wisdom similar to thoseon the basis of which the romantic poet had tried to create his "Slavic drama".
Staniewski made clear the multicultural nature of the land, on which the ceremony took place. Russian and Byelorussian songs and Hassidic whirling served to GARDZIENICE field of experience. Thus the content of the performance became the local and native element of country life.
SORCERY, played in a small, closed hall – right in the middle of it – and on podiums placed up against the wals, electrified people with its directness and dramatising. It was built on the contrasts present in all the layers of the performance, starting from the movement and gestures of the actors who were singing and making music. From the crowd of ordinarily dressed country people – the actors’ "collective body" – the figures separated themselves for a moment and reminded of Mickiewicz’s play, of fragments connected with the present day folklore. The text only drew the outlines in which the stage content pulsated. SORCERY created an intensive reality that was rendered unreal – flickering thanks to the dynamism of the ecstatic scenes, with live flames of fire leaping around here and there, full of dissonance and tensions, songs and dances, shouts, whistles, moving processions, flights heavenward, sensual desire, magical spells, incantations and a maddening whirling around.
The performance lasted only about twenty minutes. However it constituted an unusual experience for the GARDZIENICE actors growing up in that production as well as for the public fascinated with it. During the Expeditions it was shown together with AN EVENING PERFORMANCE.
The questions it contained concerning human culture, its form, values and limitations, became since then one of the main themes of GARDZIENICE.
Direction, text adaptation, dramaturgy of music: Włodzimierz Staniewski
Premiere: 1981 in San Pietro Alle Stinche near Florence