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Shakespeare productions which never came to be : the case of Świnarski’s Hamlet (1975) and Korin’s King Lear (1992)

frPublié en ligne le 22 avril 2015


Reconstructing the production process of a performance is always a tricky task. However, a record of a performance which was actually never performed forces a theatre researcher to face the myth that has been generated in the course of time. The aim of this article is to account for the circumstances of two Shakespeare projects : Hamlet directed by Konrad Swinarski (1975) and King Lear directed by Evgeni Korin (1992). The production of Hamlet in the Stary Theatre in Krakow was severed by the tragic death of the director Konrad Swinarski in an airplane crash. King Lear directed by Evgeni Korin never came to be due to the death of the Lear‑actor, Tadeusz Łomnicki, a week before the premiere. Because of the fleeting nature of human memory and the multiplicity of perceptions, aesthetic goals and implicit messages of both performances have indeed grown into independent myths. This article constitutes a comparative analysis of available material from the aforementioned productions and is an attempt at capturing the roots of the « mythologization » of these performances.

1It is always extremely difficult to reconstruct the process of creating a performance, especially one that never saw its first night. Perhaps a decision that was made by Józef Opalski, a director himself as well as a dramaturge for the Stary Theatre where Konrad Swinarski, a famous Polish director, had been working on his Hamlet (1975), to carry out a series of interviews with people involved in the production process, is the only approximation one can get to a representation of what the process might have been like1. As a result, a reader is offered a series of subjective narratives, reconstructed from memory by people who had hand‑on experience of the rehearsals, from talks with the director, as well as from hearsay and indeed, at times, from mere gossip. Even such documents as the directors’ notes and drawings should be treated with caution as they are only an account of the process, not the final product.

2The other case is a film which was being shot during rehearsals for Evgeni Korin’s King Lear (1992) ; offering a more direct and objective narrative of the process of the creation of the production : even twenty years after the actor’s death we can still watch both the director and the actor at work. Still, the recording, which registers only some of the rehearsal process, is carefully edited for television and thus captures only part of the whole. In other words, in both cases – Swinarski’s Hamlet and Korin’s King Lear – we can barely scratch the surface of a process that was never finished. Furthermore, many of the people Opalski talked to (including the interviewer himself) testify to the fact that Swinarski often introduced last minute changes (some of them quite fundamental) in the production, even after the dress rehearsal. Consequently, one is dealing here with a process which, unlike premiered performances, was never finished, culminated in a void, or ‑ when such productions involve recognised artists who died or stopped working on them for other reasons – became fossilised as a myth.

3The death of a famous director and actor, acclaimed by the critics, inevitably results in mythologizing his work (and themselves, too). When combined with Shakespeare, another legendary and indeed mythical artist, whose works, no matter what their artistic value, are regarded as absolute masterpieces, a danger arises that the late director/actor will receive the status of an artist who cannot be matched by ordinary mortals. Speculations on what such performances would have been like often lead to assertions of the kind that they could have been complete masterpieces, the crowning of the artist’s work, among other reasons. At the same time, however, there is no denying the fact that such « mythical » productions, made unreal in the process of imaginary analysis, can be an important inspiration for other artists, thus becoming not only an element of the cultural legacy, but a constituent of cultural forces operating here and now. Again, one of the aims of Opalski’s interviews is to examine how Swinarski’s unfinished production might affect the actors’ careers and their approach to new productions, as well as how it informs the work on new versions of Hamlet, especially in the same venue (in this particular case, Kraków and the Stary Theatre – more specifically, Andrzej Wajda’s 1981production of Hamlet) :

4Talking to you and others about Swinarski’s Hamlet I would like to find out, if it is at all possible, how the fact that you abruptly stopped working on the production, which you, his actors, had already been impregnated with, influenced your careers and human fate. In other words, how that unfinished performance, the work of art, lives only in this possible way2.

5Interestingly enough, it appears that one of the reasons why such productions have been mythologised is the artists’ fame and position in their lifetimes, Swinarski as a famous director, Łomnicki, an outstanding actor. Whenever such artists begin to work on new projects, the expectations of the potential recipients are running high. Konrad Swinarski was well aware of such a danger ; according to Opalski :

I remember one night, at Ewa Demarczyk’s place, when Konrad [Swinarski] suddenly started talking about Hamlet. He said that the play he had directed before was not very successful, and now he is at a loss as to how to live up to the expectations and deal with the tension which pervades the production of the new Hamlet. « They expect a miracle ! », he almost shouted, « And I think I’ll set the theatre on fire with the spectators so that this miracle, if only as a barbaric act, can come true3 ! ».

I. Konrad Swinarski’s Hamlet (1975…)

6The material that appeared after Swinarski’s death and is fairly copious and allows one to cautiously provide an account of what the production might have been like and how the process of the work on the play progressed. Swinarski thus intended to juxtapose the (petty) world of human affairs with the (grand) course of nature : « Swinarski’s idea, in a nutshell, came down to showing the history of Hamlet against the cyclical circulation of nature, the inevitable change of seasons4… ». This was supposed to have been marked in the stage design (by Lidia and Jerzy Skarżyński) : the rather shallow stage, consisting of basically the bare proscenium, was flanked by the proscenium arch and a wall raised behind it ; the wall was to be opened, both vertically, for example to allow for a passage of soldiers, and horizontally. Elements of nature were supposed to appear in the horizontal slits for instance green twigs to give the impression of spring in the first scenes of the production. In other words, nature constituted a backdrop to what happened on stage, the size of the slit symbolising the influence of nature – the wider the slit, the more powerful natural elements5. The significance of nature was also to be marked aurally ; Swinarski imagined that the sea would constitute yet another, in this case auditory, backdrop to the events shown on stage, as the composer Stanisław Radwan explained :

The sea was supposed to be always present in the production. It was supposed to have a profound effect on Hamlet, whose biological reactions Konrad wanted to combine with the sea. Even sexual issues and eroticism, which were supposed to play a fundamental role in the production, were subjected to the overwhelming power of the sea6.

7Whereas nature would have been one prevailing feature affecting the overall production, the presence of the army would have been another7. It was meant to be manifest in both the physical presence of some actors impersonating soldiers who would be camping in the square outside the theatre, and marching across the stage, and also in the noise produced by the camping soldiers, which was to reach the auditorium through the theatre’s open windows. Again, the composer tells us something about the plans : « The square [in front of the theatre] would be closed and an army camp would be set up there … while the spectators would enter the theatre only after they had watched the camping army. [T]he hubbub of the camp would reach the auditorium through open windows8 ». The army was linked with a central political and social issue that the play intended to explore : the transition from the old feudal system, where politics meant constant war (epitomised by Old Hamlet), to the Renaissance and the new politics conducted by means of diplomacy (Claudius). This would explain the paradoxical presence of the army : « The problem that Claudius and Hamlet also faced was the question of what should be done with the numerous troops who, away from wars and useless in implementing palace intrigues and revolutions, were camping all the time outside the walls of Elsinore …9 ».

8Hamlet did not quite follow the old king’s ideas : « his father was no longer for Hamlet the epitome of the ideal king, a godlike hero, etc.10 ». Hamlet opposed his father because the latter belonged to the old times, was a kind of major representative of the former regime, a soldier‑king, whereas Hamlet was more of a philosopher and artist : « Hamlet’s personality [according to Swinarski] was that of an artist, convinced of his own superiority over others, lonely in the face of the world…11 ». Apparently, this Hamlet (to be played by Jerzy Radziwiłowicz) was indeed not only lonely but also selfish, (ab)using the people surrounding him : the Players, Horatio, Ophelia, etc. for better or for worse reasons. His selfishness, perhaps, was also visible in his attitude towards Claudius, whom he hated not only because he had killed his father, but also because Claudius had managed to have a relationship with Gertrude. According to Anna Polony (who was to play the Queen), « [Hamlet] was aware that Claudius and Gertrude’s relationship was more profound than mere erotic attraction. It was based on a complete psychological understanding and intellectual fascination12 ». One of the reasons Gertrude was fascinated by Claudius was the latter’s modern and energetic treatment of state politics. As mentioned above, Claudius (to have been played by Jerzy Trela, one of Swinarski’s favourite actors), was the type of (early) modern politician who kept war at bay, replacing it with diplomatic activity, with a new vision of how a modern state should be run. That is why, according to the stage designers, Claudius’s throne speech was to be marked by the colour green, symbolising spring and a new beginning and hope. It was also a token of joy at the new rule in Denmark.

9The colours of the stage design would have matched the colour strategy of the costumes. For example, Horatio’s costume was to be grey during the whole performance13, which is concordant with what, on the one hand, Krystian Lupa, the assistant director, said about the amorphous and passive nature of the character, and, on the other, with Hamlet’s perception of Horatio as an éminence grise whom Hamlet does not trust14. Furthermore, the colour grey was also supposed to indicate anonymity : « [Horatio] as a "man in the grey flannel suit"15 ». Likewise, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were supposed to be grey, but since they prospered as snoopers their costumes would have become richer and tackier as the play progressed16. At first Hamlet’s costume was also to be rather indistinct and, also in grey, he was dressed casually as a student, wearing a grey cardigan ; before the duel, however, Hamlet’s attire became more courtly – still grey – though now a darker shade17. One could interpret such a solution in many ways, of course. On the one hand, the rather sombre costuming contrasts with the lavish colours of nature, emphasising the insignificance of Hamlet ; but not the other characters who were to be dressed more colourfully. The lack of distinct colours in Hamlet’s costuming makes him a kind of amorphous figure, an « Everyman », whom the spectator is, after all, meant to identify with and feel pity for.

10Costumes were also to be used as part of the stage design : the director had planned to have a curtain, which was supposed to be made of old costumes, tarnished and worn‑out with the figure of a good shepherd holding a lamb (referring to Claudius)18. It could have been draped to form various shapes, e.g. a canopy in 1.2, as if it had been a vault over court life ; it was intended to have been raised suddenly in the scene of the play‑within, and to have dropped in the scene of the duel19. The curtain is an important symbol of the theatre. In the case of this production, its symbolism was even stronger than usual as it may have meant to shape the performing space. Interestingly enough, as signalled above, the space was conceived of as rather flat, almost two‑dimensional, a kind of a picture or tableau, with depth provided thanks to the occasional views of the backstage in the openings and slits in the back wall. At the same time, this way actors could have played rather close to the audience, underscoring the production’s meta‑theatricality ; the footlights, the border between stage and auditorium, the « fourth wall » would thus have been at the same level. Such an organisation of the theatrical space was also visible in the introduction of a ramp protruding into the auditorium from the stage, extending the acting area into the auditorium.

11As Opalski reminds us, « I remember that in one of the talks we had together Swinarski said that the issue of the theatre, or the Players, was supposed to be one of the most significant motifs in the performance20. » Swinarski conceived of Hamlet as a play about theatre. Of course, this was not a very original idea considering the play’s already meta‑theatrical dimension, but the director gave more space and weight to the Players ; not only was their stay on stage prolonged, but they were to become the mouthpiece of the artist and, in more general terms, the voices of human honesty :

the Players’ theatre was supposed to be a lecture on manipulating art against art. As a result, the Players were expected to occupy the stage longer than we have it in Shakespeare’s text. Moreover, the reason the Players left Elsinore was the desire to defend the integrity of an artist … [Swinarski] wanted the Players to realise that they had been used by Hamlet, that they had been tricked21.

12For Swinarski, the theatre (within‑the‑theatre) was supposed to be a genuine « mirror [held] up to nature ». Anna Polony (Gertrude) confirms this idea : « I was a queen who saw how the country could profit from the change of rulers. […] The beginning of the couple’s love and mutual fascination and their development was supposed to be presented in the dumb show of the play‑within‑the‑play22 ».

II. Tadeusz Łomnicki and Korin’s King Lear (1992…)

13Defining Korin’s production as « mythical » might still seem too reductive as, over the years, the tragic circumstances severing the work on the production have been elevated to an almost religious dimension. Obviously, what also seems to fuel this undying fire is the figure of Tadeusz Łomnicki, undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed Polish actors of the second half of the 20th century. The fact that Lear had grown and matured in Łomnicki’s mind for a very long time is documented by his theatrical achievements as well as by the vast information on his struggles with the project as a whole.

14The path to Lear, as mentioned, turned out to be quite bumpy. It took about five years for Łomnicki to finally find the right director, venue and troupe of actors. This seems rather a long time, bearing in mind his stardom and position as an artist in Poland23. The correspondence with Stanisław Barańczak, the translator of Shakespeare’s texts, signals some problems, though it does not answer precisely why Łomnicki found it so difficult to persuade theatre directors to follow his idea. In his letter dated September 2nd 1988 one learns that : « Zapasiewicz is planning Lear, with me in the leading role, directed by Lindsay Anderson, the beginning of rehearsals – September next year » (Letter 17). The letter dated September 26th 1988 states that Zygmunt Hübner was to take over the project due to Anderson’s lack of time (Letter 23). In December Hübner fell ill and all plans were abandoned (Letter 24). In March 1989 the name of Andrzej Wajda is mentioned (Letter 25), while in March 1990 it is that of Jerzy Grzegorzewski (Letter 28). Finally, in November 1991 Łomnicki sent a telegram to Barańczak to inform him of the start of rehearsals in Nowy Theatre in Poznań (Letter 33)24. Maria Bojarska, Łomnicki’s widow, in her famous though strongly accusatory book Król Lear nie żyje [King Lear is not alive] frequently highlights Łomnicki’s growing frustration and isolation due to either other peoples’ envy, bad will, or deceit25. The unwillingness of professional circles to deal with Łomnicki may have been a result of his political activity in the 1970s. Moreover, rumours were spreading about Łomnicki’s difficult character, pride, and conceit. Eugeniusz Korin, the director of 1992 King Lear, rejects these accusations but reminisces : « We’ve all heard terrifying stories about "the monster" Łomnicki, who does not let the director direct, who bends others to his will, who makes a fuss about even the slightest remark – literally the whole arsenal of blood‑curdling details about the whims of the Master26. » The brutal irony of the above circumstances is that, over the years, Łomnicki grew to resemble his title character. Just like Lear, he raved about the insufficient, in his opinion, love of the theatre world. He grew irritable due to people’s lack of compliance and easily fell into bouts of fury when things were not going his way. However, unlike Lear, he was not willing to give up his Kingdom – on the contrary, he was determined to prove that he was the incomparable King of the stage.

15Following a series of grave disappointments, Łomnicki agreed to play King Lear in the Nowy Theatre in Poznań, which after all was only small theatre in the provinces. Unfortunately, Łomnicki’s grand dream of portraying Lear never fully came true as he died suddenly during a dress rehearsal about a week before the scheduled premiere. It is believed that the last words he uttered were : « Then there’s life in’t. Come, an you get it,/ You shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa » (King Lear, 4.6.298‑9)27. Probably thanks to the atmosphere of greatness permeating the project, or Łomnicki’s stardom, or maybe both, the following generations are granted an unusual chance to see Korin along with Łomnicki and fellow actors working on King Lear. In the archives of Nowy Theatre in Poznan there is a two‑hour long recording, documenting the rehearsals from the early stages of read‑throughs to dress rehearsals28. The recording was edited and made into a forty‑one minute long documentary entitled Biegiem, biegiem, written and directed by Marek Nowakowski and Marzena Witowska‑Sabat, produced by Telewizja Polska Poznań [Polish Television – Poznań]29.

16The opening scenes of Biegiem, biegiem portray the team, headed by Korin, working on the text of the play. This recording allows us to make a couple of crucial observations. First of all, even when off‑stage, Łomnicki had the mien of a great actor. His grand manner of speaking, elevated style, and rhetorical clarity make him a character as if taken out of the Elizabethan court. Łomnicki’s Lear‑like penchant for elaborate ritual and spectacle is visible when he presents stories form his professional life in a theatrical manner. One can see that Łomnicki is already very intimately involved with the text of the tragedy and is driven by a deep respect for it. He is very unwilling to agree to cuts during a read‑through rehearsal. To Korin’s suggestion about cutting the opening scene, he responds :

You know, I think you are right, but I don’t like making such decisions when we’re just beginning our work. Experience is the most important thing, because I don’t know how fast I am going to say it, I don’t know if there may be some some nuance of meaning, […] acting is not about talking only […] but, above all, it’s about different shades30.

17A second later, he acknowledges that he would willingly learn the whole part of Lear and cut it only later when the rehearsals are more advanced. Korin jokingly asks if other actors are happy with such an arrangement, to which Łomnicki gravely answers : « But you’ve got to be brave. One needs to work hard. There before us is the greatest piece of literature in the world31 ». Korin also recollects Łomnicki’s far more violent reactions to directorial interventions in his style of working or acting. Łomnicki’s face would turn very dark ; he would frown and burst out into uncontrollable fury, undoubtedly fusing the boundary between his private self and his theatrical alter ego.

18However, the true extent of his fusion with Lear can be seen during situational rehearsals, when Łomnicki’s apparent private sweetness mixes with his Lear‑actor fury. The early rehearsals show him carrying the text on stage and trying it out, apologizing whenever his attempts fail to satisfy either him or the director. Łomnicki is dressed in worn‑out jeans, black sweater and a navy‑blue dressing gown, apparently imitating the King’s coat. In this apparel Lear’s vulnerability is in apparent contrast to the power of Łomnicki’s expression as his voice thunders through the stage. The scene when Lear finds his servant Kent in the stocks is especially powerful (act 2 scene 4). Łomnicki’s voice transforms with each exclaimed « No ! ». Each negation encapsulates a different emotion, from total amazement to a mixture of shock and anger. He is, at the same time, both a stubborn, bantering child and a furious monarch. When he says : « Follow me not ; stay here » he takes full advantage of his wide range of acting skills, both vocal and expressive (King Lear 2.4.250). He roars his line and stops for a second. This second is enough to unveil what Łomnicki is capable of doing with his eyes and his facial expression. The eyes burn with anger, his lips tremble and contort and, under the veil of muteness, one can just hear some barely audible throaty growls. Łomnicki turns away and leaves the stage. Despite the actor’s casual clothes, the bare stage and him holding the text, the effect is so strong that one can safely say that the audience would be literally rooted to their seats.

19Other recording passages show a more advanced stage of the production. Łomnicki is still in his casual clothes but he and the other actors already know their lines by heart. In the scene of the meeting between mad Lear and blind Gloucester, Łomnicki portrays Lear’s madness as a state of absolute serenity (act 4, scene 6). Yet again he looks like « an old child », when he says : « Look, look, a mouse » (King Lear 4.6.88). Korin interrupts Łomnicki as he is not satisfied with his central positioning on stage, too far away, in his opinion, from Gloucester. Łomnicki is first surprised by his remark, and then he is visibly angry. He quietly and sweetly says : « This is unnecessary », to which Korin replies : « You must move to the other side ». Łomnicki resumes and for a second, one is sure that he is continuing his Lear speech, but a moment later, to the utter astonishment of the viewer, one realizes that he is actually arguing with Korin. Gradually raising his voice, he says : « Don’t you understand that Lear is going mad ? ! Let go ! I am delicately telling you that this is bad ! ». The slightly schizophrenic confusion continues when Łomnicki, in a disarmingly sweet tone, says « My dear », only to suddenly shout and storm : « This is all about details ! ». At this stage, one embraces the true secret of Lear‑Łomnicki’s genius and beauty. Magdalena Przyborowska claims that Łomnicki’s virtuosity in portraying Lear is most evident in his ability to enter a role and exit it freely and with ease32. This claim is, in our opinion, far from true as the video rehearsal of scene 6 (act 4) shows quite the opposite. Even for someone who is very familiar with Shakespeare’s text, this scene is a source of confusion. Here Łomnicki and Lear are one. A moment later, Łomnicki, yet again warm and sweet, apologizes to Korin for his outburst but even then he is more of a mad Lear than really himself.

20The electrifying unity that is so decisive for the genius of Łomnicki’s creation is maintained. When the two gentlemen enter to take Lear to his beloved Cordelia, Łomnicki’s Lear is full of gentleness and stirs deep pity when he says : « I am cut to the brains » (King Lear, 4.6.188). Without interrupting the pace of the rehearsal, he instructs his fellow actor and smoothly finishes the scene. This remark passes almost unnoticed. Other fragments from the rehearsals, though cut and often arranged accidentally, portray how the play emerges as a finished whole. In some fragments, the actors are dressed in their costumes. Łomnicki acts in his jeans, black sweater, and dressing gown. The film now and again underscores his meticulous attention to details. When rehearsing scene 1, act 5, Korin dismisses one of Łomnicki’s ideas concerning the scene arrangement and the Fool’s position by saying that since he stays there only for a fraction of a second, there is no point in moving him. Łomnicki states irritably : « Each fraction of a second forms the whole impression ! ». Thus, Łomnicki yet again frames himself as the father of the production in gestation.


21Despite the far from satisfactory or exhaustive material available in the interviews, documents, or video recordings from the Nowy Theatre, one can still get more than a glimpse of the process of theatrical creation, which promised greatness. This, inevitably, led to a fossilisation of the artists’ efforts into a myth, a kind of monumental ivory tower, whereby Swinarski’s production becomes the Hamlet, and Łomnicki’s acting the King Lear (« Łomnicki is not playing Lear », he is Lear). Both artistic projects are still powerfully ingrained in the Polish cultural memory and have inspired many theatrical productions and roles, frequently going so far as to overshadow them. It is always difficult to face the myth and to challenge it : it took six years after Swinarski’s death to produce Hamlet at the Stary Theare in Kraków, and Evgeni Korin never attempted to direct King Lear, or indeed any other play by Shakespeare as director of the Teatr Nowy in Poznań.


BOJARSKA, Maria, Król Lear nie żyje [King Lear is dead], Warszawa, Polski Dom Wydawniczy, 1994.

KORIN, Eugeniusz, « Robiliśmy Leara… [We were making Lear…] », in Notatnik Teatralny – numer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], Wrocław, Ośrodek Badań Twórczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno‑Kulturalnych, 1993, p. 50‑69.

ŁOMNICKI, Tadeusz and Eugeniusz KORIN, « Próby stolikowe ‑ fragmenty [Read‑throughs ‑ fragments] », in Notatnik Teatralny – numer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], Wrocław, Ośrodek Badań Twórczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno‑Kulturalnych, 1993, p. 82‑90.

ŁOMNICKI, Tadeusz, « Listy do Stanisława Barańczaka 1985‑1992 [Letters to Stanisław Barańczak 1985‑1992] », in Notatnik Teatralny – numer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], Wrocław, Ośrodek Badań Twórczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno‑Kulturalnych, 1993, p. 18‑43.

NOWAKOWSKI, Marek T. and Marzena WITOWSKA‑SABAT, Biegiem, biegiem, Poznań, Telewizja Polska Poznań [Polish Television], 1992.

OPALSKI, Józef, « Rozmowy o Konradzie Swinarskim i Hamlecie [Talks about Swinarski and Hamlet] », Wydanie drugie zmienione, Kraków, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2000.

PRZYBOROWSKA, Magdalena, « Albo próbujemy, albo umieramy [We rehearse or we die] », Teatr, 5 (May 2012).

SHAKESPEARE, William, King Lear, R. A. Foakes (ed.), London, Arden, 2001.


1 Opalski himself took part in some of the rehearsals, talked to the director about the production and, finally, interviewed the composer, actors, the dramaturge, the stage designer, the assistant director, and the translator who provided a rendering of Hamlet into Polish (interestingly enough, the same was true about Korin’s production). In other words, he was perhaps the most competent person to attempt a reconstruction of that production using material provided by other members of the performance.

2  Interview with Anna Polony, Józef Opalski, Rozmowy o Konradzie Swinarskim i Hamlecie [Talks about Swinarski and Hamlet], Kraków, Wydawnictwo Literackie, p. 43. All the renditions into English from Opalski’s book are mine, Jacek Fabiszak.

3  Ibid., p. 58.

4  Ibid., p. 27.

5  Lidia Skarżyńska in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 68.

6  Stanisław Radwan in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 12.

7  « The ubiquitous army had already been conceived of when he was working on Dziady » (Jan Błoński in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 89 ; he never used it in this production, though).

8  Stanisław Radwan in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 15.

9  Ibid., p. 15.

10  Anna Polony in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 35.

11  Ibid., p. 36.

12  Ibid., p. 31.

13  Jerzy Skarżyński in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 70.

14  Ibid., p. 70.

15  Ibid., p. 70.

16  Ibid., pp. 70‑71.

17  Ibid., p. 72.

18  Ibid., p. 69.

19  Ibid., p. 70.

20  Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 17.

21  Stanisław Radwan in Józef Opalski, op. cit., p. 19.

22  Ibid., p. 33.

23  Magdalena Przyborowska, « Albo próbujemy, albo umieramy [We rehearse or we die] », Teatr, 5 (May 2012). All the quotations from Polish sources concerning Korin’s King Lear are mine, Katarzyna Burzyńska.

24  Tadeusz Łomnicki, « Listy do Stanisława Barańczaka 1985‑1992 [Letters to Stanisław Barańczak 1985‑1992] », in Notatnik Teatralny – numer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], Wrocław, Ośrodek Badań Twórczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno‑Kulturalnych, 1993, p. 18‑43.

25  Maria Bojarska, Król Lear nie żyje [King Lear is dead], Warszawa, Polski Dom Wydawniczy, 1994, p. 24.

26  Eugeniusz Korin, « Robiliśmy Leara… [We were making Lear…] », in Notatnik Teatralnynumer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], Wrocław, Ośrodek Badań Twórczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno‑Kulturalnych, 1993, p. 57.

27 In Barańczak’s translation the fragment runs : « Więc jakieś życie świta przede mną. Dalej, łapmy je pędźmy za nim, biegiem, biegiem » (Shakespare in Stachowiak 1993, p. 74). Translated literally back into English it may go as follows : « So there is some life dawning before me. Come on, let’s run after it, run, run ! ». The translation back into English sheds some more light on the title of the film, documenting therehearsals of Korin’s production entitled « Biegiem, biegiem », which means literally « Come on, let’s run, run ». In the original, the archaic hunting cry « Sa, sa, sa, sa » has the same function. (Shakespeare 4.6.289).

28  The archives are open to researchers and academics interested in seeing the materials, though it is very hard to get hold of the recording so in this article we mainly focus on the edited version. The programme of the play, already printed after Łomnicki’s death, is also available. The video recording is an exceptional document as normally rehearsals are not filmed. Stenographic records of the rehearsals and press conferences organized during the works on the production are also available in Notatnik Teatralny – numer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], Wrocław, Ośrodek Badań Twórczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno‑Kulturalnych, 1993, p. 44‑49, 74‑99.

29  For more details see the web‑page run by PWSFiTiT in Łódź [State Tertiary School of Theatre, Film and Television] : http://www.filmpolski.pl/fp/index.php/4213174. There is a gallery of photographs available and a wealth of information about the documentary.

30  Tadeusz Łomnicki and Eugeniusz Korin, « Próby stolikowe ‑ fragmenty [Read‑throughs ‑ fragments] », in Notatnik Teatralny – numer specjalny na pierwszą rocznicę śmierci Tadeusza Łomnickiego [Theatre Journal – special issue honouring the first anniversary of Taduesz Łomnicki’s death], op. cit., p. 84.

31  Tadeusz Łomnicki and Eugeniusz Korin, op. cit., p. 85.

32  Magdalena Przyborowska, op. cit.

Pour citer cet article

Katarzyna BURZYŃSKA, Jacek FABISZAK (2015). "Shakespeare productions which never came to be : the case of Świnarski’s Hamlet (1975) and Korin’s King Lear (1992)". Shakespeare en devenir - Les Cahiers de La Licorne - N°9 - 2015 | Shakespeare en devenir.

[En ligne] Publié en ligne le 22 avril 2015.

URL : http://shakespeare.edel.univ-poitiers.fr/index.php?id=805

Consulté le 26/06/2017.

A propos des auteurs


Katarzyna Burzyńskadefended her Ph.D. dissertation on Shakespearean and Marlovian overreachers at the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. Her dissertation combines Nietzschean theory on great individuals with the development of Elizabethan individualism. Her research interests include the Elizabethan period, Shakespeare studies, the relation between literature and philosophy as well as existentialism and Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy. So far she has published four research papers including « Jean Luc Godard’s King Lear in the Light of Existentialism » in Ex‑changes : Comparative Studies in British and American Cultures (2012) and « A Polish Hamlet : Zbigniew Herbert’s ‘Elegy of Fortinbras’«  in New Readings Journal (2012).


Jacek Fabiszak teaches the history of English literature at the Faculty of English at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. His research centers on English Renaissance drama on stage and in televisual and filmic transpositions (Polish Televised Shakespeares, 2005) as well as contemporary stage renderings. His major publications include a linguistic and sociological analysis of Shakespeare’s late plays, Shakespeare’s Drama of Social Roles (2001) and a most recent volume, of which he is the major editor, Crossroads in Literature and Culture (2013). Furthermore, Jacek Fabiszak popularized the Bard’s works in Poland co‑authoring Szekspir. Leksykon [Shakespeare. A Lexicon, 2003] and co‑editing Czytanie Szekspira [Reading Shakespeare, 2004]. He has also written on Christopher Marlowe.


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