“There is consistency visible in Tadeusz Kantor’s ideas when we look at their development: starting with “The Return of Odysseus”, which was a very early indication of what was going to happen in the 1960s, to the last production “Today is My Birthday”. In all his successive productions except for “The Cuttle-Fish” and “The Circus” we are dealing with costumes based on “ready-made reality”, indebted to neo-Dadaistic ideas and making use of the potential hidden in “ready-made objects,” “objects found,” and “the objects of the lowest rank,” which were valued so highly by Kantor. Therefore they are either completely worn out, torn rags or casual well-worn clothes: jackets, bowlers and hats found in old chests in attics; mouldering dresses covered with dust – still, as a matter of fact these are consistent with the everyday reality. However, each of these costumes is in a way alienated. Everything that can be said about Kantor’s objects applies to his costumes as well. What is meant is that they are liberated from their “bonds and in-life relationships and left without a comment.” The costume is to facilitate the special metamorphosis of the actor, who is to be “nearly held up to ridicule. Gaudy make-up, circus forms of artistic expression, the perverseness of the situation, the scandalous, the surprising, the shocking… Associations contradicting the common sense, artificial and unnatural pronunciation…” are bound to be in contrast with the illusory reality, to retain their independence, autonomy, separateness and artificiality. The actor has to be eliminated and anti-active; he is to “paralyse” the textual reality. He is to vegetate and to create embarrassing situations. Many other types of the actor’s behaviour could be enumerated at this point, for instance those described in the manifesto of “The Zero Theatre”. Kantorian costumes are intended to help to achieve all this.”
Krakowski, Piotr. Kantorowskie kostiumy. [Kantorian costumes] in: Stangret, Lech (ed.). Kantor. Fantomy Realności. [Kantor. Phantoms of Reality.] Katowice: Center for Polish Scene Design, 1995.
In the Cricot 2 Theatre the costume was as important as the object. On the basis of some costumes Tadeusz Kantor created autonomous works of art (two outfits for the staging of “Rhinoceros”, Burdygiel, Edgar Wałpor – Man with Suitcases kept in the Museum of Fine Arts in Łódź). Other costumes, used earlier in the Cricot 2 Theatre (the Underaged, Uncle Stasio – the Exile ) were placed by the artist on special constructions and thus as if transformed into sculptures. About five hundred outfits have been preserved from the Cricot 2 Theatre and these are kept in Cricoteka. In the collection owned by Cricoteka there are also costumes designed by Maria Jarema for the productions of “The Cuttle Fish” and “The Circus”, as well as some costumes designed for repertoire theatres.
We present selected costumes and comments by Tadeusz Kantor.
Section prepared by: Anna Halczak