16th Divine Comedy International Theatre Festival

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  • Friday, December 8, 2023 - Saturday, December 16, 2023

On November 6th, during a press conference at the Potocki Palace in Krakow, we learned about the program of this year’s 16th edition of the Divine Comedy International Theatre Festival, which will be held under the slogan “Landscape after the battle”. During nine festival days (December 8-16, 2023), almost 30 performances will be presented, including 7 competition performances.

– The slogan and theme of the Divine Comedy is a springboard for open conversation, for a peaceful relationship without conflicts. We are coming together in a common cause, I hope that we no longer have to stand on two different sides of the barricade. I have the impression that this year’s edition of the Divine Comedy will also be a kind of therapeutic session – explains the artistic director of the festival, Bartosz Szydłowski. – In the face of wars, artists reached the limits of their endurance, their wings were clipped, hence the darkness in their performances. I believe that the festival meeting will be the beginning of a new, better reality – adds director Szydłowski.

A team of theater critics consisting of Jacek Wakar, Magdalena Piekarska, Katarzyna Niedurny, Tomasz Domagała and Jacek Cieślak selected for the INFERNO competition the best, in their opinion, performances that were created in Poland from September 2022 to June 2023.

International jury

The final seven include: “1989” directed by Katarzyna Szyngiera (Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Krakow), “The Well–Behaved Young Man” directed by Wiktor Rubin (Kazimierz Dejmek New Theater in Łódź), “Brilliant Friend” directed by Ewelina Marciniak (National Stary Theater in Krakow), “How I Didn’t Kill My Father and How Much I Regret It” directed by Mateusz Pakuła (Łaźnia Nowa Theater in Krakow and Stefan Żeromski Theater in Kielce), “Melodrama” directed by Anna Smolar (Zygmunt Hübner Powszechny Theater in Warsaw), “Anxiety Comes at Dusk” directed by Małgorzata Wdowik (Wrocław Henryk Tomaszewski Pantomime Theatre), “Once Upon a Long Day” directed by Luk Perceval (National Stary Theatre in Krakow). The best performance will be selected by a jury composed of curators and selectors of festivals from the United States, Turkey, Chile, India, Italy and Switzerland. They will be: Peter Marks, Handan Salta, Carmen Romero Quero, Divya Bhatia, Barbara Regondi and Jurriaan Cooman. The creators of the winning show will receive the Divine Comedian statuette. The jury also has the right to award prizes in any other categories selected during the deliberations. We will find out what they will be like this year on December 14th.

Outside the competition, the following will be shown: the latest performances by Krystian Lupa (“Balconies – Love Songs”), Maja Kleczewska (“Forefathers’ Eve” from Ivano–Frankivsk), Jan Klata (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), diploma performances of the Krakow Academy of Theatre Arts, original performances by Krystyna Janda, Andrzej Seweryn, Daniel Olbrychski, Agnieszka Przepiórska. The famous “Spartacus” directed by Jakub Skrzywanek.

Katarzyna Olesiak – director of the Culture Department of the Krakow City Hall, emphasized at the press conference the huge role of the Divine Comedy festival in promoting Krakow in the world. – Divine Comedy is the most important theatre festival in Europe. The power of its impact is enormous – thanks to it, an international audience comes to Krakow every year, and this drives Krakow’s tourism. Thanks to the presence of guests from abroad, good words about Krakow are starting to spread around the world.

She also mentioned that work is underway on the long–term financing perspective of the Divine Comedy. A subsidy of PLN 2 million could help the organizers in their efforts to obtain funds from other sources.

– The festival has incredible energy that flows from the performances. The city’s genius loci also creates a festival atmosphere, says festival director Bartosz Szydłowski.

The organizer of the Divine Comedy International Theater Festival is the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre. The festival is largely financed by the Municipality of Kraków. The event was also co–financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Culture Promotion Fund. The partners are: Academy of Theatre Art, Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

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