Machinery of the Theatre

Temporary exhibitions

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  • Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 5:00 PM - Sunday, June 11, 2023

The idea of the exhibition is to present the history of the theatre – but not in the way that is common in theatrical discourse through the artistic achievements of successive artists.

“We are committed to telling the story of the theatre as if it were a complex machine, in which what the viewer sees on stage is the end result of a complicated process, significantly influenced by the construction of the stage and its facilities, as well as the technical and administrative staff of the theatre. To achieve that, not time and successive historical periods but space was adopted as the narrative axis of the exhibition. From the division of the exhibition into individual theatre rooms, i.a.: box office, foyer, backstage, sound and lighting control booths, prompt corner, stage management desk, storerooms and theatrical studios, dressing room, administration and director's offices, comes the story of specific theatrical occupations: cashier, ushers, typist, acoustician, lighting engineer, prompter, stage manager, decorator, prop master, dresser, wigmaker, director, secretary, copyist etc” – the organisers explain.

“For the sake of clarity of the exhibition, the story focuses on the technical aspects of the theatre and shows the mechanism of operation of the stage and the theatre. We intentionally refrained from presenting what is visible from the critic's seat in the audience. Thus, we leave out the professions from the theatre posters such as: actor, director, playwright, dramaturgist, scenographer, choreographer, and composer. It does not mean, however, that the topics of scenography, direction, and acting will be disregarded. Still, they will be addressed in a strictly technical context and will be presented from the perspective of stage craftsmen or theatre administration. Presenting the complex behind-the-scenes world of the stage, the exhibition is designed to show the connections between history and the present day and emphasise the continuity of theatrical traditions.

Theatre equipment from different historical periods will be presented in the space of the Cross House, as well as the evolution of theatre professions, largely necessitated by the development of technology. The transformation of the management process is confronted with the unchanging basic tasks and problems that theatre directors face. In this way, we hope to make audiences aware that despite changes in technology, the staffing and financing structures of theatres, and political changes, the basic system of theatrical work remains unchanged. In the quiet of the directors' offices, in the craftsmen's studios and directly behind the scenes, the battle between possibilities and needs is constantly being fought and the space for freedom of artistic creativity is being created Naturally, we focus on examples taken from Krakow's theatres. However, using their example, we will present a story about the behind-the-scenes work that is universal to all scenes”.

The exhibition is divided into three main intertwining parts presenting the mechanics of the stage, theatrical professions and, in broad terms, theatre administration. Above all, the history of Krakow theatre in the 19th and early 20th centuries is presented, as it was during this period that key technical and organisational changes took place. The period of the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, when transformations were much slower and had the character of an evolution rather than a revolution, is presented as a kind of reference point. The narrative will begin in 1843, when the city of Krakow became the owner of a theatre building. Examples are given of selected groundbreaking technological changes, as well as theatre professions that began to gradually disappear during this period or were transformed into professions that still function today. The basic transformations are shown on a timeline and described on information boards.

Although some of the exhibition spaces are intended to mimic theatre interiors, organisers don't want to replicate any particular theatre – it is only a visual/stylistic intervention. The story focuses on the history of the Old Theatre and the Municipal Theatre (now named after Juliusz Słowacki). However, taking into account the universality of certain technological solutions, where necessary, we will use exhibits from the period associated with other theatres.



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