No Matter How Hard We Tried

TR Warzsawa, Poland, 2011
Author: Dorota Masłowska
Directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna/ Grzegorz Horst d’Albertis/ Horst Leszczuk

about the production

The young female author Dorota Masłowska (1983) has earned herself a prominent position with her prose and journalist work and is considered to be a kind of a “generation voice“.  The reason being that she tackles the topics which belong to the traditional make up of a contemporary Polish intellectual presenting them with a certain overview.

They could be summarised in a trendy term “the Polish identity “. In case of the drama No Mater How Hard We Tried they are to be spotted, on the one hand, in the mutual reassurance about the greatness of Poland, the significance   of its history and sufferings which it had to go through, on the other one, in the melancholy or rather sadness, which are inborn in the characters just because they are Polish. Masłowska enters this dispute unburdened with the mostly negative and traumatic historical experience and, as a charming beginner, clearly admits that she is not even very knowledgeable about it. She does not take the topic for sacred and is not ready to accept the cliché connected with it as something untouchable. Quite the contrary, she perceives it as too abstract to be able to live with it, and all those discussing it are too ridiculous for us to take them seriously. It results in a comedy which is cynical in its gesture and, maybe, superficial, but it is exactly this which brings a relief too many viewers and enables them to look at stereotypes and clichés connected with the Polish nation with a distance.  It is mainly the wild 20th century, more precisely, the Second World War, the period of totalitarian dictatorship and the local version of early capitalism, which connect the three central protagonists in the play. Masłowska has created a quirky multi-generation family of women, marked by different experiences, in order to confront the strong historical turnovers of the 20th century on the one hand and the present time of three generations living in contemporary Poland on the other one. She sets the discussion about contemporary Poland and “Polishness“ into a more global frame created by the all present media blah. From the point of view of this artificial world, strictly asymptomatic, and consequently supranational, any search, knowledge or cultivation of local specific features is only there to give it a variety and, therefore, ridiculous and unnecessarily labour intensive. When comparing generation attitudes, we ask ourselves whether the probes into history, re-evaluation of different memories and similar activities which are attracting a big attention in today’s Poland (and not only there), will bring anything useful to future generations, whether they will be compatible with their sensitivity and memory at all. The drama No Mater How Hard We Tried was written for the TR Warsaw theatre which regularly presents new plays by contemporary Polish playwrights.  Directed by the artistic director of the theatre Grzegorz Jarzyna, it resulted into a production based on the strength of the text, the motifs and situations. Jarzyna has created a simple space on the stage which supports the fantastic, comical and absurd dimension of the text, dominated by the actors and their actions, occasionally enhanced by computer animation. Just as he has done in some other productions of contemporary texts, the director has given way to the playwright and enriched her fantasies with strength and functionality.
Ján Šimko

“Masłowska‘s play ridicules the Poles and simultaneously opens the German and European complexes, thus being fully understandable also to foreign audiences. This was obviously the first time Jarzyna has received such an enthusiastic viewers‘ response to his debut in the German speaking environment.”
Łukasz Drewniak, Dziennik

“In the picture of three generations of women (Grannie, Mother and the Small Metallic Girl), crowded in an old rented house in Warsaw, marked by war memories, socially excluded by the transformation, the authoress reveals the absurdity of the patriotic discourse, on the one hand, and the politically correct, empty claptrap, on the other one. The text has prompted the disputes about the origin – which has inspired the author’s imagination: the traditionalists or the liberals (the fact that it could have been the author herself did not occur to anybody)? The text No Matter How Hard We Tried is thus often compared with the writings of Jarosław Mark Rymkiewicz and taken as a tribute to the cultural, educational and social role of Radio Maria but also a topic of discussion in sex studies and glorified in fanzines.”
Joanna Derkaczew, Gazeta Wyborcza

 “All in all, it provokes outbursts of laughter, because the seriousness of Jarzyna’s staging did not deprive the play of humour. Roma Gąsiorowska, Katarzyna Warnke, Maria Maj, Agnieszka Podsiadlik and Rafał Maćkowiak are, in fact, playing only episode characters and yet hit the nail on the head with their hyperbole. Due to such understanding of characters we are witnessing a real human menagerie on the Teatr Rozmaitości stage – comical but also frightening.”
Jacek Wakar, Dziennik


directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna
set design: Magdalena Maciejewska
costumes: Magdalena Musiał
lighting design: Jacqueline Sobiszewski
music arrangement: Piotr Domiński, Grzegorz Jarzyna
video: Cókierek, Pani K.
perform: Roma Gąsiorowska, Maria Maj, Magdalena Kuta, Agnieszka Podsiadlik, Aleksandra Popławska, Danuta Szaflarska, Katarzyna Warnke, Rafał Maćkowiak, Adam Woronowicz and Lech Łotocki (hlas z rádia / radio voice)
coproduction: TR Warszawa, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
in co-operation with Warsaw – candidate for the title European Capital of Culture 2016


Grzegorz Jarzyna (1968), one of the best known and most distinctive Polish directors, a writer, since 1998 artistic director of TR Warszawa (previously known as Teatr Rozmaitości), since 2006 also director of this theatre. His debut as a director of Witkiewicz’s Tropical Elation (staged at Divadelná Nitra in 1997) was one of the most famous theatrical productions in Poland and announced the beginning of a new era in the Polish theatre. Jarzyna directed more than 20 drama and opera stage productions in Poland, but also abroad, at Schaubühne in Berlin, in the Viennese Burgtheater and at Toneelgroep in Amsterdam. Jarzyna’s stage productions obtained invitations to many festivals and theatre stages in Europe and even further abroad: Moscow, Jerusalem, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Stockholm, London, Dublin, Toronto, Wellington, Edinburgh, Avignon, Los Angeles, New York, Nitra (Divadelná Nitra 1997, 1998). Jarzyna directed radical re- interpretations of classical drama, adapted great European novels, staged well known contemporary plays and popular operas, as well as several TV stage productions. He obtained a number of prizes and distinctions, including the distinction of the Foreign Minister for the excellent contribution to the support of Poland internationally (2002), the Austrian Nestroy’s Prize in the category of the Best Direction for directing Medea (2007) and in 2010 the Prize of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Polish Republic for exceptional artistic achievements.


Materials available

Script of the production: SK

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