33rd ULICA Street Theatre Festival

Friday, September 4, 2020 - Sunday, September 6, 2020

  • Friday, September 4, 2020 - Sunday, September 6, 2020
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Miracles and Wonders

Actors levitating on chairs, a cherry orchard blossoming in the city centre, a bench, a rock and a piece of string, wild dances, flaming props… ULICA never fails to surprise!

This year’s global pandemic brought havoc to cultural calendars everywhere. The 33rd ULICA Street Theatre Festival, usually held in early July, was one of the events which had to be postponed. The time has finally come, and between 4 and 6 September, the streets and squares throughout Kraków, still emptier than usual, abound with outdoor theatre!

Strange things

“When I think back to a year ago when was putting together the programme for the 33rd ULICA festival, centred around strange events, I couldn’t have imagined that in early 2020 the very definition of strangeness will take on a whole new dimension. Thinking back to the deafening silence of Kraków’s streets and squares and the anxiety about encountering someone else, we are trying to redefine the very idea of theatre in open city space,” says festival founder and director of the KTO Theatre Jerzy Zoń. During the three festival days, the Main Market Square, the Podgórski Market Square, the Dolnych Młynów complex, the Róż Avenue in Nowa Huta and the Old Town in Tarnów abound with surprises, wonders and marvels.

Chair, bench, table

An old lady, busy at crotchet, sits… on a chair fixed to a façade of a building seven metres above the ground! No, it’s not a miracle – it’s x-times people chair, a performative installation from German artists Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser depicting seniors “hovering” above the heads of passers-by.

Another symbol of everyday city life, marked by random and frequently unwanted encounters on buses and trams, in shops and restaurants, is The Bench. Justyna Wójcik’s low-key spectacle  from Migro Theatre, combining the theatre of movement with contemporary dance, is a tragicomic take on the time of the pandemic.

Just as tragic – and current – is KTO Theatre’s The Blind, directed by Jerzy Zoń: it presents an image of a society instinctively responding to an epidemic, mercilessly revealing herd impulses, irrational choices, fear and injustice. Another human plague – war – is explored through Carmen Funebre by the Biuro Podróży Theatre, inspired by the Balkan conflict. Prokofiev Died Today by Kraków’s Mumerus Theatre is a moving, absurd portrayal of the fate of an individual oppressed by a totalitarian system.

I and us

What is today’s everyman like? What do ordinary people dream of? What do they long for? What are their addictions? Are they able to build relationships and communities with others?

KTO Theatre’s Peregrinus is a day-in-the-life of a contemporary office worker, revealing the raw, barren existence stripped of spirituality, love and beauty. In their pantomime HomoCatodicus, French artists Dominique Lajoux and Mario Gumina present a humorous critique of the peak 21st-century addiction to our smartphones.

Bachelor by Pjoter AKA Piotr Chlipalski tells the story of loneliness, difficulties in coping with everyday life and inability to build lasting relationships. Korean artist Juhyung Lee invites the audience to join in his performance It’s Not Here, It’s Over Here where the simple props of a rock and string are used to learn about building and maintaining a community.

Dreams and consciousness

The Voskresinnia Lviv  Academic Theatre presents The Cherry Orchard – a spectacle based on Anton Chekhov’s acclaimed play, adapted for street theatre. Fire illuminates racing carts, bikes and scooters, with the Russian playwright’s spirit and an oneiric atmosphere of his works exploring universal themes of passing, longing, lost love and greed encompassing everything.

Migro Theatre’s DROM – In the Footsteps of the Roma uses lively dances and lyrical fiddle tunes to reveal the history of this extraordinary nomadic people.

The Spanish artist Miquel Barcelona Palau also takes us into the world of folk traditions and rituals concerning death and vigils through [kórps] on the boundary of contemporary dance and performance.

Stilt-walkers, jugglers, mimes

If that’s still not enough excitement, the organisers also present the very essence of street theatre: breathtaking exploits of stilt-walkers in Snów Theatre's The Room, Pinezka  Theatre's Crazy World featuring Eśko the Clown, Maxim the Stilt-walker and Leon the Cyclist, the one-man show Zee: A Visual Comedy Act, and the Chilean juggling and mime show Anything Can Happen.

“We want our festival to bring emotions, but more than anything we want to remind our spectators that nothing can replace real contact between actors and audiences, between people,” promises Jerzy Zoń. Let’s meet, at a safe social distance, at the 33rd ULICA Festival! 

(Justyna Skalska, “Karnet” magazine)

For whom: for children, for seniors, for families
Other: open air event, free admission, acceptable for people with disabilities
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