A 1920s Polish Play Is Reimagined for the California Desert

A new play at CalArts sets Witkacy’s The Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf in the unending landscape of Death Valley.

Witkacy / Two-Headed Calf (courtesy CalArts Center for New Performance)

The Polish playwright, novelist, painter, photographer, and theorist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (who adopted the pseudonym Witkacy) was a vital creative force during the interwar years until his death in 1939, when he committed suicide upon hearing of the Soviet invasion of Poland. His 1921 play, The Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf (1921), was inspired by his own travels through Papua New Guinea and Australia, which he had undertaken after the suicide of his fiancée. The play follows the protagonist Karmazyniello through the tropics in an attempt to uncover hidden truths about his family.

WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf is the result of a residency at the Center for New Performance with Natalia Korczakowska, the artistic director of Warsaw’s Teatr Studio, one of Poland’s leading experimental theater groups that combine elements of drama, art, music, and film in their works. In this new production, Korczakowskacontinues the journey set out in Witkacy’s original work, extending it from Sydney to the California desert. In the unending landscape of Death Valley, Korczakowska sees a similar opportunity for self-reflection that Witkacy found in the wild tropics of the Pacific.

When: Thursday, November 29–Saturday, December 1, 8pm nightly and 2pm showing on Saturday
Where: CalArts Center for New Performance (Walt Disney Modular Theater, 24700 McBean Pkwy, Santa Clarita, California)

More info at Center for New Performance.

comments (0)