"Ewelina cries” by Anna Karasińska from TR Warszawa centres around the issue of representation. This debut by the director, who is at the same time the author of an excellent script, is one of the better texts I have recently heard on stage. “Ewelina’s Crying” enchants the audience with its dramatic composition. Subsequent ideas and scenes are developed to their full theatrical potential and last just as long as they should but no longer. It’s far from being verbose; twists and turns are very much to the point. The precision of the performance keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats. (...) It is a simple but effective idea. The stars of the TR Theatre are busy being involved in more important projects than some kind of a performance or experiment and thus they do not show up at the theatre. In turn, their roles are taken over by extras. (…)There is a huge comical potential behind this move but the success of the performance is mainly driven by the brilliantly witty text, which plays with stereotypes about performing actors. Their self-presentation mediated by the roles of extras plays not only with the public image of an actor as a media figure but also with his or her medium-like features on the stage itself. (...) The comic, nearly stand-up character of the performance, allows all metaplays, already well-established on the Polish stage, to acquire refreshing lightness, ridicule the jabber of metatheatrical clichés, and provide intelligent entertainment.
"Theatre of Minor Forms” ,Paweł Soszyński ; Dwutygodnik
"Ewelina’s Crying” directed by Anna Karasińska – a minimalist performance for four actors, who also play extras who play these actors, is as unassuming, intriguing and deeply refreshing as the title itself.
"Director Wanted" Aneta Kyzioł; Polityka
"Ewelina’s Crying”, a comedy woven out of expectations about the theatre magic and dreams about an acting career which the ruthless hierarchy of the artistic scene cuts through. Karasińska plays with various layers of fiction, ridicules the cult of an icon and the atmosphere of glamour surrounding the forever trendy and avant-guard places.
"Be Like Cielecka" Witold Mrozek ; Gazeta Wyborcza
THE OTHER SHOW
Coming to her "The Other Performance” is like coming to a dinner when it turns out that you are going to be the meat. You come here just to watch something but you end up watching yourself. At the theatre you can see the audience from the stage as well. Actors are only humans; they see those faces, those facepalms, those stifled or open yawns, those secretly read or sent texts. And what are they supposed to do if “the actor is there to play.”? Before this premiere, they could simply turn a blind eye but the day of revenge has finally come. They show us in great detail what it is like from their perspective; what this “other” performance being acted out is like when they slave away in “the first” one on stage.
This performance does not have a formal start, at least it does not for you since you are the performance yourself and you don’t have to be dragged on stage any more. The work of art denies being a work of art; all it wants is to be a simulation of some kind of guidelines of “how to act in a theatre.” The script includes an intermission but again not for you, dear viewer! Sounds serious but it is, in fact, hilarious. (...)There is no stage design in "The Other Performance.” Chairs and a grey curtain are just part of furnishings and not means of artistic expression. Anna Karasińska does what she does best, and she is set in her ways to create theatrical hardcore. Some directors dress up the stage or undress actors, or do both, to create non-stop hype. This is exactly what Karasińska does not do and why she does not choose to do so. She knows it doesn’t come easy. (...) Being as attractive as they are, the effects of her work are achieved not through bling, design or TV celebrities but rather through energy flowing when things are said openly or when nothing is said at all. Karasińska’s theatre is consistently unassuming, clear-cut and open. She produces something totally new and innovative in contrast with the academic play with this or that gesture. Working with Karasińska “you do not seek new forms of expression” but rather work out a new idea for a good party, a good get-together where you could either enjoy yourself to the full as part of the platinum package and not to die out of boredom as part of the poverty package.
"A Good Party", Maciej Stroiński; Dwutygodnik
Sophisticated in its simplicity, insanely witty and at times moving, the abstract Fantasia marks a triumphant return to TR Warszawa of Anna Karasińska, known for her hit "Ewelina płacze" (Ewelina cries).
Yes, Karasińska’s personality is such that it allows “abstract” and “theatrical hit" to be said in one breath. "Fantasia", as the title suggests, is all about playing with the imagination. The director is present but invisible. She speaks to the audience live via loudspeakers. With words, she outlines imaginary scenes and calls out her actors by name to take turns in performing them. A laboratory minimalism of performance art married to a semi-silent stand-up.
It is a theatre of emotional abstraction in the strict sense of the term. That is, an attempt to reduce the theatre to its elementary constituent parts, much like colour or texture in painting.
Acting is reduced to a situation or emotion outlined with a few rapid stokes: a couple of facial expressions, a hand gesture, a twist of the body. Suggestive images in a few lines – a kind of a theatrical haiku.
From the collision of the director’s words with actors’ bodies there emerge individual emotions and thoughts, mundane, a little banal, perhaps embarrassing – usually hidden and suddenly unveiled. To what extent do they reside in the movements and faces of the actors, and to what extent in our gaze, guided by the voice off stage? At times the spectator plunges head first into the impromptu world being created right there, before their eyes: “Zosia is now playing someone who loves you but will never ever tell you”. Then there are minor compulsive gestures like staring at someone on the tram. Deprived of their usual context, simple situations occasionally morph into poetic micronarratives bordering on magical realism. Thus one actress becomes a world champion at goodbyes – she has already bid goodbye to her parents, to her love and her entire street; another, a woman suddenly being addressed by the dead speaking from below the ground.
"Fantasia" closes out a cycle that it would probably be legitimate to call a tetralogy of looking and relating. In "Ewelina Weeps", Karasińska’s debut, established actors of the TR company played aspiring youngsters imagining what it’s like to be a TR actor. In “Drugi Spektakl” (The Second Performance) of Teatr Polski w Poznaniu, actors were seated on the stage and asked to act out various types of imagined spectator reactions and expectations. Finally, in “Urodziny” (Birthday) at Komuna Warszawa, Karasińska herself stood motionless and in silence on the stage, as in an off-stage monologue she described her fear of public speaking and unease about her body before moving on to a description of an imaginary birthday party.
Playing with theatrical form and imaginaton, a static arrangement of actors and a voice. “Always the same”? And yet, if all of Karasińska’s performances resemble one another, then is the same not true of every single performance of classic dramatic theatre – there is, after all, always a play, some characters, a set?
Witold Mrozek; Gazeta Wyborcza
The director’s steadily developing artistic language has become a guarantee of an intriguing theatrical experience. (…) The value of Karasińska’s performance lies, however, not in her wit but in the problems that it confronts the spectator with. An actor serves no longer as an aid, perhaps even a hindrance since in their immobility they bear a disquieting resemblance to an everyman, recently seen on the bus.
Dominik Gac, teatralny.pl
In freeing herself of all direct reference to current affairs, Karasińska has broken out into the open. Using her own text, funny, free-flowing, witty, and surreal, sometimes taking the performers by surprise, she has created a series of effortlessly interlacing imaginary worlds. It is a theatre without props, without costumes, without a set, a clear plot or linear acting, meticulously thought out but not contrived. An implementation of a personal vision but in an extraordinarily close relationship to the actors and the audience. (…) A sage treatise of the possibilities of the body, mind, imagination, of creation and empathy, hidden in the very depths of the human psyche, beyond what can be determined by political and social issues alone.
Grzegorz Kondrasiuk; Konfrontacje 2017
Karasińska’s text is indeed an extraordinary fantasia and her carefree imagination can at times awe. But this is more than a metatheatrical comedy. Laughter is silenced on several occasions, as if the imagined scenarios included some that cannot properly be laughed at (“now Dobromir is playing a guy who killed a friend with a baseball bat”) or that cause consternation (“now Maja is playing a woman who regularly masturbates in a train toilet which make for a massive queue.”)
Fantasia is a seemingly loosely composed and semi-improvised performance. Yet looking at it more closely and carefully, its precise mechanism and ambiguous tone become apparent. This is a theatre bizzare through a combination of wit, irony and distance with epistemological anxiety. Fantasia is a minimalist but tantalising and stimulating work that leaves you wanting more.
Marcelina Obarska ; Didaskalia
WSZYSTKO ZMYŚLONE (ALL IMAGINARY)
Wszystko zmyślone“ (All Imaginary) asks a really simple question: what is the theatre for? Why do you go there to see other people perform made-up situations, even though they are no different from the people in the audience? How can that help process an individual crisis or overcome doubt? What is the human being for?
All this with the help of the simplest means imaginable. Four actors present on the stage throughout the performance, a simple choreography, no set, just a greenish platform – this “spectacle” is created by the viewer and by the openness of the actors. (...). It is all a little like an improvised film-school short with authorial commentary which renders the whole muted, quiet, intimate. Sensitive and charming, it isn’t ingratiating or desperate to amuse. This somewhat bizarre sense of humour brings on a soft smile and a sense of . (...)
What is it that we all see on the stage something that isn’t there and agree that it momentarily is? We see a person and for the duration of the performance they become a projection our notions and even of ourselves, we bestow on them a part of ourselves. Each person in the audience has a different performance in their mind. And when the actors stand in silence for a longish while, staring at the audience, demonstrating that we are all part of the same paradoxical situation, becomes strangely intimate. „This performance” is in fact the reality all around us. Thanks to this phrase and very simple, almost childish word clusters, we tell ourselves about the world we live in. There is a good deal of childish sensitivity in it, which helps turn the journey with the actors into a conversation about ourselves – about the paradoxes of being human, about love, fear, the absurdity of being an actor on the stage and in everyday life. It is taking place all at the same time in the entire world and universe.
Kinga Kurysia; Nowa Siła Krytyczna
She burst onto the Polish theatre scene as an outsider: like a virus, impetuous and efficient. She brought with her a great deal of much needed freshness and a certain kind of distance.
In thinking of Anna Karasińska’s theatre, of the nature of her theatrical quest, I cannot but think of the aesthetic category of the uncanny and its concomitant epistemological disorientation. It seems valuable in that it inspires us to question the nature of a perceived item or phenomenon. When watching a Karasińska performance, I don’t feel “at home”, I wonder what am I really watching? I’m not sure and I don’t want to be.
(...) The performance remains out of grasp; seemingly simple, light (in terms of staging, it certainly is) it evades description, makes it hard. All Imaginary is a title that leaves little scope for illusion. This is what theatre is, Karasińska seems to be saying. “If you get a group of people together who all believe in the same thing, it is there,” we hear from the stage. On the one hand, the performance is in praise of imagination and the power of creation immanent to the theatre as an extraordinary collective phenomenon. On the other, it is imbued with an aura of melancholy since this particular feature of the theatre may be seen as both a power (collectively, with the power of our minds, we can create what is not there, believe in something that is not physically and materially there) and an essential weakness (“a prehistoric animal will come here […] and if we stop seeing it, it will disappear altogether”). Ontological status is negotiable in either direction: we can create and destroy, constitute existence and non-existence.
In the end, everything is made up. The performance penetrates territories of imagination, illusion and imitation in the theatre.
In this experience, we approach (as a collective entity in the space of a theatrical event) some sort of a limit. I have seen all four or Karasińska’s works and All Imaginary is probably the most difficult to grasp, to categorise. The anxiety it provokes in me is the most durable and bizarre. (…)
The text touches on many subjects, invokes whole series of diverse images but most of all, it treats of illusion and playing, as well as of animals, microorganisms, love and death; chaotic at times, it gives the impression of incoherence. And yet it is very beautiful. The creators move around a certain intimate imaginary that I gain only fleeting access to. The director focuses on the ambiguous nature of language in the theatre and on its agency; on the dominant role of the word in the theatre. Using simple, unassuming means, she demonstrates its power as well as its weakness. The uncertainty and fuzziness that result from such a formula are extremely alluring. The performance thus unfolds partly through language (and its agency), partly through gesture (the actors have their own little choreographies, like pretending to be a seal or slouching) and partly, I suspect, through my imagination. Karasińska thus seems to reach the ontological core of the theatre.
I am grateful for what Karasińska’s theatre does to me.
I like her melancholic outlook, her exploration of the absence and the void that are immanent to the theatrical medium. Her works bring to mind Romeo Castellucciego’s comment that, “the theatre has no content, it is a fact”. That is how I treat Karasińska’s art, as a processing of that absence, an exploration of it, open meditation on it.
Her meditations are, however, rooted in an imaginary land, sometimes reminiscent of a naïve, childish surprise.
Marcelina Obarska , Didaskalia
What are these five people on a nearly empty stage showing? Dating robots, a feast of imagination in the ocean of rubbish, a hopeless attempt to save the last surviving octopus, finally – a lone person saved from extinction in a capsule, learning once again the meaning of old emotions from a machine. All that is familiar, if not from the classics of cyberpunk, then from "Black Mirror". Yet Karasińska lends these cliches a tenderness, an intensity, divorces them from banality. I rarely use the word “beauty” when talking about art but this performance definitely is beautiful.
Witold Mrozek, Gazeta Wyborcza
„Anna Karasińska continues to effortlessly (…) present works of the theatre focused exclusively on the human being/ individual/ actor and the worlds created by him or her in a raw, empty, ready-made space, in a costume that is also their personal clothing. The very presence of the actor, what he or she says or presents on the stage creates sufficiently strong, suggestive, meaningful messages. Usually through a restrained, spontaneous interaction. As if the director wanted to stress that each of us is the author of their own experienced and expressed reality, an active agent within it that is also an image of themselves. A vector of the narrative, impression, hidden personal suggestion that depends on individual sensitivity, condition, intention, imagination. Through the theatre, she underlines realisation of the self at the most elementary level that THE PERSON THEMSELVES is the ultimate source of what forms them, that they have an individual influence on the matter, time, space. The entire world starts with them, fights, plays and ends with them.”
Ewa Bąk, Okiem widza
“And yet it is a poetic theatre, masterful at using both verbal and situational metaphors. My association is with the Russian OBERIU [avantgarde collective of the 1920s] whose commonalities with Karasińska include not only a sense of humour, often absurd or surrealist, but most of all the construction of surprisingly troubling and complex situational metaphors of everyday behaviours and pop-cultural references wrested out of their usual context. It is, one could say, a theatre of poetic meta-mundanity, where the familiar, recognizable, perhaps even despised or neglected can be placed in a different context, a different order or developed with an ironclad logic to a typically surrealist or absurdist conclusion that serves to rebut and mock common sense.”
Dariusz Kosiński; Tygodnik Powszechny
I WILL TRY TO TELL YOU BUT IT WON’T GO WELL
Completely (and presumably consciously) deconstructing the formula that is usually understood to produce theatre, Anna Karasińska’s new performance "Dobrze ci tego nie opowiem" (I Will Try to Tell You but It Won’t Go Well, produced by Komuna Warszawa and performer at Teatr Studio) has nothing of the witty and promising concepts of her earlier work, developing instead an artistic strategy of poetic performances, built with a mastery and delicacy of whatever it is that remains when the theatrical mechanism is stripped down to its bare essentials.
Dariusz Kosiński ; Tygodnik Powszechny
Four actors, four monologues, an empty stage, forty-five minutes. That is all that Anna Karasińska needs to tell of war. And contrary to the title, she can tell it well. Only one professional actor (Dobromir Dymecki) appears on the stage but Sara Goworowska, Bożena Wydrowska and Karolina Harris are in their roles-poses every bit as poignant as Karasińska’s usual collaborator. Each monologue treats of a different face of war – the experience of a victim, a soldier, a victim’s granddaughter, an ordinary person who had only heard of the war. There is nothing here of classical dramaturgy. It is a theatre that grows out of performance art. Karasińska does not posit any theory, she focuses on images and emotions, asking an important question: how does the past war exist in us today? It is the kind of art of initiates a debate about trauma and memory.
Karol Marczak, Newsweek