Evidence of Blood

Civic Association Košice Theatre and the Košice State Theatre, 2014
Author: Karol Horák
Directed by Agnieszka Olsten

about the production

Do you think that even the saints can rise up today and tell us something in the actual language of our times? Perhaps their suffering is no smaller than ours… Or?

This production is based on the play by one of the most important contemporary Slovak playwrights, Karol Horák from Košice. Evidence of Blood has a special place in the string of historical plays by Horák, mainly because of its subject. The fate of three priests, now saints, who find themselves in an existential situation on the border between life and death during the time of the antiHabsburg uprising lead by Gabriel Betlen, are the starting point for playing out the situations taking place on the background of the historical events. But the past says a lot about our present in this production. The stories of St Stephen Pongrác (Jesuit from Transylvania), St Marek Križin (Esztergom canon), and St Melchior Grodziecky (Polish Jesuit) serve to depict our present time and reality. The subject is a sensitive one from the contemporary perspective. Religious intolerance, confessional schism of the Christianity, national passions – all of it still smoulders in the social awareness. Evidence of Blood depicts a dramatic and human story which happened in Košice and evoked a big response in the whole of Europe. The production uses a complete arsenal of expressive means of the contemporary theatre of the 21st century. A universal stage space showing some kind of a butchery which multiplies the brutality of the depicted theme. A new kind of acting while not being immersed in the emotions, a distantly emotive music and singing. The piling of shocking scenes, the fragments, the manifested feelings of the creators… A deliberate making of parallel connections between history and present. Just like the meat is boned and portioned, with the same force of penetration the creators grasp the subject, the historical figures and circumstances, the literary original. The resulting stage form sharply affects the spectator, and that is what is important for the authors. They increase the meaning of elegiac as well as animalistic reflections of the reality of today, at the same time mirroring the past. The image and its present enjambment are promoted above the meaning of the historical reality. The spectator is fascinated by the provocative scenes, often full of blood and violence, of screaming and expression, the assorting of situations and pictures which creates a new and autonomous stage reality. How many impulses from the distant past (in a truly non-traditional theatre processing) can make our blood boil?
Svetozár Sprušanský

 “´It is not about some kind of discovering religiosity or pretentious praying. It is mainly about the state of human being in a borderline existential situation when he must make a clear decision. The story of the martyrs is interesting also because it was a cruel murder without a trial. I see the message also in making the fate of the martyrs humanly convincing, and thus it can speak to the contemporaries not only so they will go to church tomorrow, but to show them certain basic ethical values,´ was the answer of Karol Horák to the question what kind of message has his text for a contemporary person.”
Kvetoslava Podhorská, kosice2013.sk

“The tragic story of three Catholic priests, who in September 1619 came to Košice, doesn´t speak only about denominational grudges imposed by the power, but is also a reflection on the subject of the anti-Habsburg uprisings. And also, a testimony about the power, faith and nation in times when Betlen´s troops were coming near the walls of Košice. When, a hundred years after Luther´s appearance, the city was the only island of the Catholic Church.”
Radio Devín




directed by Agnieszka Olsten
dramaturgy: Henryk Rozen
set design and costumes: Tom Ciller
choreography: Tomasz Wygoda
music: Wojciech Orszewski, Katarzyna Borek
film clips: Filip Drożdż
ssistant to director: joanna Strzemieczna
consultant: Miron Pukan
characters and cast: Actress, Katarína Forgáčová: Adriana Ballová, Actor, martyr Pongrác: Peter Orgován, Actress, mother of Pongrác: Lívia Dujavová, Director, father of Pongrác, Bethlen: Tomáš Diro, Actor, martyr Grodecký: František Balog, Grandmother of Grodecký: Erika Švedová, Actor, martyr Križin: Attila Boczárszky, Actor, Headsman, Death: Andrej Palko


Agnieszka Olsten (1977) studied direction at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. She is the founder of Theatre Collegium Civitas in Warsaw. Before direction, she studied journalism and worked as radio reporter. In her provocative directions, she attempts to present a new look at the contemporary plays, accentuating their social dimension. She strongly reworks and changes the texts. She made her debut in Theatre Wybrzeże in Gdansk with the performance The Solo based on the text by Andrzej Stasiuk. She is praised both by the critique as well as by the audience; she creates bold, controversial, but mainly very strong productions relating to the problems of today. She has produced that sort of productions in these theatres: Theatre Collegium Civitas, Warsaw; City Theatre, Gdyna; Theatre Wybrzeże, Gdansk; J. Slovacký Theatre, Krakow; Teatr Współczesny, Wroclaw; National Theatre, Warsaw; Teatr Studyjny, Lodž.

For the OFF program at Divadelná Nitra 2005, she directed the text of the group RIMINI PROTOKOLL called Sabenation (Go Home and Follow the News). Also in Nitra, she participated in the project of Divadelná Nitra 2007 middentity – identify. middle.eu, and in 2010, her production Samsara Disco (Polski Theatre in Wroclaw) was shown at Divadelná Nitra.

Materials available

Video of the production: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN titulky

If you are interested in these materials, write to archivy@nitrafest.sk