The Danton Case

Teatr Polski in Wroclaw, Poland, 2008
Author: Stanisława Przybyszewska
Directed by Jan Klata

about the production

The French Revolution in a post-punk way. Klata makes political theatre with a good sense – no mentoring, no poster-like statements. His drama is actually a play, which does not pretend, and it is perhaps for this, it touches the core. The rule that a revolution eats its children is known most likely by every school pupil. The mechanism of power is plain and unfailing: you are either with us or against. Robespierre, Danton and Marat, most probably the most famous personalities of the French Revolution, are in Klata´s work presented as caricatured quasi-heroes whose clothes and wigs are long faded. It is similar with their ideas which they state even with their heads off. A humorous and witty metaphor on contemporary view on the ratio-worshipping of the Enlightenment.

Klata has an exceptional sense for alternating the serious and the grotesque. He mixes almost psychological drama with pop-like unbound clip parody when leaving Robespierre to play the Marseillaise by a power-saw. Danton and Robespierre play with toy tanks while the Children of the Revolution by T. Rex is heard. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – nice ideals which collapsed at the very moment of their creation, their smithereens, though, have been rolling through history until today. But what is a progress then? Klata is not searching for any answer which cannot be found. History, or rather the picture of history, interpreted by arts, is relativised by his legendary “anarchistic” attitude. Nevertheless, he is not a naive anti-globalizator with a scarf on his mouth and the Molotov Cocktail in the hand, but a sharp-witted artist meditating in the relation of history, art, pop-culture and politics.

There is yet another interesting thing about Klata´s production: the post-modern interpretation of Przybyszewska´s text, which significantly moves away from the historic facts, deprives Robespierre of the sticker of a bloody murderer and it is carried out in the spirit of utopian adoration of modernist ideals. Klata´s commentary approaches Heiner Müller when paraphrasing the play The Mission: Death is a mask of revolution, revolution is a mask of death.

The play The Danton Case was written by Polish playwright Stanisława Przybyszewska in 1929. This interesting person of Polish dramatic literature was obsessed with the French Revolution and Robespierre. At the beginning of the 1980s Andrzej Wajda made his famous film Danton based on this play. Klata´s entirely contemporary interpretation of Przybyszewska´s play recently received the most important awards for directing, stage design and acting at national festivals in Opole and Kalisz. According to theatre critic Lukasz Drewniak Klata “is firstly looking on the mechanisms of democracy and tyranny. He quite wittily illustrates the thesis that a revolution eats its children. He is shifting the corner of the carpet under which there are bulldogs fighting. At the same time though, he does not enter the myths concerning revolution. He simply depicts a revolution in the end. In the moment of its last-but-one and the final crisis.” And this final (?) crisis is taking place between cardboard boxes and metal-made sheds somewhere in the virtual territory of no one.
Martina Vannayová



text, direction, samples, mental scratches: Jan Klata
text, dramaturgy: Sebastian Majewski
stage design: Mirek Kaczmarek
choreography: Maćko Prusak
lighting: Justyna Łagowska
project coordinator: Hanna Franowska
characters and cast: Eleonore (Marianna): Kinga Preis; Louise Danton: Anna Ilczuk; Lucile Desmoulins: Katarzyna Strączek; Robespierre: Marcin Czarnik; Danton: Wiesław Cichy; Saint-Just: Wojciech Ziemiański; Desmoulins: Bartosz Porczyk; Delacroix: Andrzej Wilk; Westermann: Tadeusz Szymków; Philippeaux: Edwin Petrykat; Fouquier: Zdzisław Kużniar (Marian Czerski); Billaud: Mirosław Haniszewski; Legendre: Rafał Kronenberger; Fouché: Michał Opaliński; An English Agent: Michał Mrozek


Jan Klata (1973)

Rebelling and provoking Klata is one of the most important Polish directors of the recent years and a pioneer of the so-called political theatre in Poland, and that is why Polytika magazine awarded him the Polytika Passport Prize for theatre. During his studies at the University of Drama in Warsaw and later at the State Academy of Drama in Krakow he worked as an assistant of Jerzy Grzegorzewski, Jerzy Jarocki and Krystian Lupa. Klata´s first independent direction was of Gogol´s The Inspector General at the J. Szaniawski Theatre in Walbrzych in 2003.

The most important productions: The Vatican Cellars by André Gide – Teatr Współczeny in Wroclaw; H – based on the Hamlet by W. Shakespeare – Teatr Wybrzeże in Gdańsk; Fizdejk´s Daughter – based on the play Janulka, Daughter of Fizdejko by S. I. Witkacy at the J. Szaniawski Theatre in Wałbrzych; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess at the Teatr Współczeny in Wroclaw together with the Teatr Pantomimy from Wroclaw; Transfer! (a production about the displacement of the Poles and Germans from their homes after the WWII, which met an outstanding success at the Divadelná Nitra 2007).