Concise History of Polish Theater From the Eleventh to the Twentieth Centuries

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Nominated by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS)
for the Orbis Prize 2004

This study narrates a millennium long record of Polish theater, focusing on the theatrical annals of cities, productions and their styles, major theater artists – actors, directors, and designers – acting and directorial instruction, theater buildings and stage design, and the changing audiences. The book includes many illustrations.


“Kazimierz Braun has unusual qualifications for the task. As a director, manager, theater artist, author, scholar, and teacher, he has been totally involved with Polish theater throughout his career – in Poland, in America and Europe, and as a cultural ambassador between East and West. Wherever he has been, he has created Polish theater, studied it, taught it, and written about it. Only a lifetime commitment and a passionate love for theater in all its aspects can give such an authoritative grasp of the subject.” – Daniel Gerould, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York

"The present book, because it charts the integration of art and political nationalism in detail can be read as more than one volume. It is, in intention, a concise history of Polish theater. Inevitably, however, it is also a history of Polish national struggle. Inevitably, because of the geographical position of Poland, it is also a history of a neglected aspect of European theater history, as well as that history viewed from a fresh viewpoint, with Polish eyes. Either way, there is much to inform and stimulate, to move to pity and delight the reader.” – Clive Barker, Editor, New Theater Quarterly, London, England

“… unique, valuable, relevant, and riveting. It is unique and valuable, if not invaluable, because there has not yet been a book in English written on this subject. Its value is enhanced because the text is intended to serve a vast community of readers including scholars, students, and those interested in Polish as well as global culture….. it leads one through the maze of complicated historical entanglements and clarifies seemingly impossible complications, especially those of the 19th and 20th century political landscape.” – Bogdan Kotnis, chairperson of the Polonia Global Fund

“A Concise History of the Polish Theater is a unique work written by a practitioner of the art of theater who is also an accomplished writer. It is written in a lively style, and it makes for fascinating reading.” – Ewa M. Thompson, Professor of Slavic Studies, Rice University

"Braun (SUNY, Buffalo), a native of Poland, remains a vital force in the Buffalo theater community. His new book is, by his own admission, narrative in style, and the narration profits from the richness of Braun's theatrical knowledge and experiences in Eastern Europe and America. Again by his admission, Braun attempts to make the book, designed for English-speaking readers, "reader-friendly": he has translated all Polish titles and names of theaters in Poland into English, keeping intact the names of people and geographical places. He has avoided notes that would disturb the flow of the narrative, compensating with an extensive bibliography instead. The book clarifies how Polish theater has no counterpart in the Anglo-American tradition; it focuses on Polish theater itself rather than on its opera, ballet, or other theater genres. Because of its impressive size and its rare topic, it reminds one strongly of Czeslaw Milosz's The History of Polish Literature (1969; 2nd ed., 1983). The sections "Theatre in Poland under Foreign Rule" and "Theatre at the Time of National Catastrophes" would strongly appeal to readers interested in both theater and the impact of WW II and its historical aftermath on the arts. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; general readers." - CHOICE

Table of Contents

Preface by Daniel Gerould
1. Theater in Independent Poland (11th-18th Centuries)
2. Theater in Poland Under Foreign Rule (1795-1918)
3. Theater of the Second Republic (1918-1939)
4. Theater at the Time of the National Catastrophes (1939-1956)
5. Theater in the Country of “Real Socialism” (1956-1980)
6. The Twenty Years of Storm (1980-2000)
Selective Summary: Polish Theater (National Institution; Artistic Styles; Audiences; The International Context; Polish Theater and Poland’s History)
Afterword by Clive Barker
Bibliography; Index of Names, Index of Plays

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