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Beschrijving uitgever

The theme of animation, which constitutes one of the essential elements of Stanislaw Wyspianski's (1869-1907) poetics, manifests itself in Akropolis through the multi-faceted story of resurrection. The story resonates on a complementary array of thematic and formal levels. First and foremost, the play opens on the Night of Resurrection and closes with the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Acts 1 and 4 take place between midnight and dawn on the night before Easter and tell the story of Wawel Cathedral's statuary coming to life to demonstrate the resurrection of Christ, who in the play is called Salvador or Salvador-Apollo. [1] Commentators have repeatedly referred to the play's allegorical meaning, one that rests on the idea of Poland as the Christ of Nations: like the suffering Christ, Poland will rise up and once again become a sovereign state. Resurrection, however, is just one aspect of the play; another is the problem of the liminal spaces created when opposing conditions, such as death and life, meet. This threshold is productive as a site of a new synthesis. In this article I argue that liminality constitutes the heart of Wyspianski's cryptic play and is one of the reasons why the play has baffled critics and resisted stage performance over the past century. On the formal level, the play (written in verse) challenges conventions of the dramatic genre. With the incursion of the fantastical and disconnected plots, Akropolis is what Martin Puchner would call an "exuberantly anti-theatrical" modernist play. Puchner explains that the modernists' penchant for writing plays for the armchair reader rather than the theater spectator resulted in plays with an excessively strong focus on the written attributes of the text. As Puchner puts it, "The modernist closet dramas seek to undo the theater and its human actors through programs that are best described by terms such as literariness, ecriture, and writerliness" (18). By hovering in a liminal zone between the genres of poetry and drama, and because of the various thematic manifestations of liminality, the play cannot be easily categorized or interpreted in a consistent fashion. Furthermore, I will suggest that the delicate boundary between sincere national piety and self-referential irony that the play straddles allowed Jerzy Grotowski to stage a performance in 1962 that on the surface appeared antithetical to Wyspianski's original text. While his production was seemingly the flip side of Wyspianski's play, Grotowski only nudged Wyspianski's original concept out of the liminal space and into definitive irony.

1 april
Polish Institute of Houston, Inc.

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