The idea of the avant-garde theatre originated in the artistic circle of young poets, actors and painters representing extremist tendencies.
The theatre was given the name Cricot 2 as a way of indicating that it was going to continue the tradition of the pre-war theatre bearing the same name.
Although according to some superficial views Cricot 2 Theatre represents mainly values relating to fine arts, it is in fact a theatre whose actors in their contact with avant-garde painters and poets hope to find a new, radical method of s t a g e p e r f o r m a n c e. Cricot 2 Theatre proposes an idea of the theatre becoming
entirely a w o r k o f a r t, creating its own rules and justifying only its own existence, as contrasted with the theatre which is ancillary in one way or another, especially to literature, with the effect of becoming more and more of a thoughtless reproduction of everyday states of affairs, losing irrevocably the theatrical instinct, the sense of creative freedom, and the power of expression.
The theatre of this kind, after resigning its rights to its own artistic existence, had to submit to the conditions, laws and conventions of life, and thus became an institution, a machinery of a technical and administrative character, whose rigid and conventional mode of functioning was reduced to the process of production.
Cricot 2 Theatre has demonstrated the great potential of f r e e d o m in art, of showing the a b s u r d and “the impossible”, of the r i s k and fascination it causes.
Cricot 2 Theatre changed the a u d i e n c e-s t a g e r e l a t i o n s h i p, which gave the artistic expression its basic form. The audience sitting at café tables and dancing to jazz music constituted the concrete reality of life in contrast to the passive, neutral audience in rigidly arranged rows of armchairs in the institutionalized theatre.
The living reality of Crocot 2 Theatre’s audience was the e x t e n s i o n o f t h e s t r e e t with everything that was going on out there, and it was prepared to react and retort, to form opinions immediately and on the spot. The means of a r t i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n had to be harsh, irritating, offensive and antagonistic.
The act of the a c t o r’s metamorphosis – the most crucial act in the theatre – is not camouflaged. On the contrary, it is exposed and nearly held up to ridicule.
G a u d y m a k e-u p,
c i r c u s f o r m s o f a r t i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n,
the p e r v e r s e n e s s o f t h e s i t u a t i o n,
the s c a n d a l o u s,
the s u r p r i s i n g
the s h o c k i n g,
a s s o c i a t i o n s contradicting “the c o m m o n s e n s e”,
a r t i f i c i a l a n d u n n a t u r a l p r o n u n c i a t i o n.
Creating surprising situations and connecting elements in a surprising way
leads to the emergence of a structure which challenges the logic of everyday life: a structure based on
a u t o n o m o u s l o g i c.
And that is the point.
The c o s t u m e becomes a moving, liberated form, and loses the old, conventional, ridiculous function.
It has its own “autonomy” and its own “symbolic significance”.
In its relationship with the actor’s living organism it has certain functions which are completely new: it is a resonator and a trap,
entanglement and multiplication,
an inhibitor as well,
it can be the actor’s executioner and victim,
it can exist beyond the actor and become the object to juggle with.
The d i s i n t e g r a t i o n o f t h e p r o c e s s o f c o m i n g i n t o a c t i o n:
Word, sound, movement, form, emotional states, incidents, situations have been
isolated from the mass, seemingly homogeneous over the long time of its functioning and in consequence mute,
passive and assimilated with life and with the equally passive audience.
(For that reason this passive, narrow-minded audience regarded all that was happening
on the stage as complete disintegration, chaos and mockery).
The disintegration and the off-tracking of the old structure created a new and autonomous structure and caused the theatre’s power of suggestion to increase.”
Pleśniarowicz, Krzysztof (chosen and ed. by). Metamorfozy. Teksty o latach 1938-1974. [Metamorphoses. Texts about the years 1928 – 1974] Kraków: Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor Cricoteka, Księgarnia Akademicka, Kraków 2000, p. 147-149.
Translated by: Monika Markiewicz