Open letter signed by the Slowacki Theater staff in Krakow

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Dear Friends,

The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków, since its earliest days one of Poland’s most important theatres, has found itself in an extremely difficult situation: a procedure for recalling its director Krzysztof Głuchowski was initiated. Midway through the term of his office, with no substantial, artistic, or legal grounds for such a dismissal.

The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków is in the best artistic condition in years, its accolade and successes rising. In this year, it was to become co-organised by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in a step that would have made it a national institution. In November it premiered the quintessential drama of Polish romanticism, Adam Mickiewicz’s Dziady / The Forefathers’ Eve (1822–1832), directed by Maja Kleczewska. Its purely Romantic text became a powerful voice in the discussion with our contemporary world and the condition of today’s divided Poland. The staging at the Słowacki was recognised the hottest production of the past year, many consider it a masterpiece, and the tickets sold out for months ahead. However, the production found no recognition among the politicians of Law and Justice, a party that is governing Poland. The head of Małopolska Regional Board of Education issued a statement strongly discouraging teachers and students from going to see the play. The Minister of Education called it “junk” (dziadostwo), and the Minister of Culture also took a distanced stand. None of them has seen the play. Soon after its premiere the advanced negotiations about co-management of the theatre by the Ministry of Culture were discontinued, which resulted in not granting the Słowacki the PLN 3 million promised for this year. The tension around the Słowacki and The Forefathers’ Eve kept mounting. It deteriorated further when, in a gesture of human solidarity, the actors began to come out to the stage after the performances with photographs of children from refugee families dying on the Polish–Belarusian border, and when Maria Peszek, a wonderful artist openly supporting the LGBT+ movement and critical towards the policy of hatred engulfing Poland, strongly disliked by the authorities, was invited to the theatre for a single concert.

On 11 February the organiser of the theatre, the Board of Małopolska Region, initiated a procedure intended to remove Krzysztof Głuchowski from the post of the theatre director “for the reason of infringing regulations regarding the application of the Public Procurement Law Act” and due to “the director having rescinded the care for the good name of the Theatre while holding the post”.

Now, as per Art. 15 section 6 of the Act on Organising and Running Cultural Activity, “The director of a cultural institution, appointed for a defined period, may be recalled before his term expires: 1) on his own request, 2) due to an illness chronically precluding the execution of his duties, 3) as a result of violating the law through the occupied post, 4) if the director deviates from the implementation of the programme of activity for the institution agreed on with the organiser”. None of the above conditions for recalling is met at the moment. Director Głuchowski can and wants to hold his post (with full support of all the Theatre staff!), he has not infringed any regulations of law, and the Słowacki is in the best artistic condition in many years.

The Theatre recognises the decision of the Board of the Region Małopolska Region to initiate the recall procedure as a politically motivated, groundless intervention into the autonomy of a cultural institution, and an attempt at limiting creative freedom. A punitive step for the creation and staging of The Forefathers’ Eve. After economic censorship that came first, now comes an attempt at censoring the artistic programme of a theatre, unheard-of in contemporary history, and a lawless attempt to recall by force a director supported by nearly the whole Polish world of the theatre and all the staff of the Słowacki. Unprecedented and dangerous, this situation for an immediate and solidary intervention of all artistic circles of Europe.

We request support for Krzysztof Głuchowski, the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków, and the right to artistic freedom in Poland!


The Slowacki Theater collective


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