Cracow bursts at the seams when it comes to a choice of events in summer. Shalom Jewish Culture Festival, Summer Jazz Festival or Festival of Traditional Music are just the tip of the entertainment iceberg which can be experienced by tourists visiting Cracow at the weekend. The oldest festival is the Street Theatre Festival which took place in 1988 for the first time. Within those twenty years, the streets of Cracow played host to artists from many corners of the globe; theatres from Australia, Chile and even from Togo – each of them were giving a show here. Obviously, this year’s Festival was of the worldwide form as well!
Performances were held for four days (9-12 July) in the Main Market Square (on either side of the Cloth Hall), the Small Square, at the Cracow Gallery and Bagatela Theatre. All in all, the festival agenda included shows of twenty groups from eight countries. There were also coproductions by artists from different countries. Musette i Polka is the example of such performance; it was prepared jointly by the French Association Culture et Flonflons Flandres and the Polish KTO Theatre. The show was performed by the three actors and three musicians from each group.
Barnet College Foundation Degree in Performing Arts, i.e. young, talented and coming from Great Britain debutants in the art of acting, performed Four Sheets to the Wind – Bedtime at the Orphanage. In a word: kids and toys vs. sloshed house-father.
Theatres mentioned in the official programme were not the only highlights of the Festival. At the marketplace there was an exciting concert of Michael Jackson - the king of pop! Rumours about his death were way over the top. Michael Jackson is alive and doing well! He dances, sings, grasps his crotch and performs his moonwalk. The king of rock appeared on the same stage – i.e. the immortal Elvis Presley! He seems to have lost his weight but on the whole he looks great, plays guitar, sings and performs indecent hip movements. Apart from them, a concert was also given by the grandma of rock – amazing Tina Turner and Celine Dion – who has not earned any title yet.
All these stars were given the second life by a puppeteer Krzysztof Falkowski. Although the concert was brief, it was loudly applauded and, in comparison to the last year’s concert, it was additionally enriched by the political features. Elvis spoke with the voice of the prime minister Tusk and Michael Jackson with the voice of the president Kaczyński.
A passer-by who thought he could dance like Michael Jackson was jealous of their fame. In this way, the unexpected transposition took place and both Krzysztof Falkowski and his puppets became the audience. The new star, however, didn’t stand their glances and ran away within a few minutes.
Nicolas Benincasa arrived to Cracow directly from Argentina. He impersonated self-created character - El Niño del Retrete and gave the performance entitled Toylette. After a while, on the other side of the Cloth Hall, a British-Dutch couple under the name of Fullstop Acrobatic Theatre started their show. Waiting on You is a short story about a girl who is waiting in a café for a man who didn’t show up on time. It’s narrated mainly from above – by dancing and circus acrobatics. Starring: Wibbe Pompe i Vicki Steggles. Loud applause of gathered audience – well-deserved.
Quite interest of passers-by was aroused by the arrival of the three gentlemen from Germany. Their performance didn’t have any playscript; it was based on the unpredictable interactions with often casual audience. Fellows from The Gentlemen had only a set of sheets at their disposal; they made their way by means of arrows and for Asians who tried to enter into the conversation they had already prepared a message: “I DON’T SPEAK POLISH”. When one of the gentlemen wanted to pick up a girl, he showed her a photograph of his muscular body; the other time he bragged about a photograph of his Porsche to a cyclist. There were also ladies who took those robust gentlemen in their arms before their husbands’ very eyes! In a word, it was freakishly with a lot of fun.
Of course, when you are strolling from stage to stage through Cracow, it is hardly possible not to encounter different mime artists. Apart from the well-known White Lady, there are devils, elves, knights, golden ladies at the café table, a puppet and a lot more other interesting characters.
Lance Spring came to Cracow from Holland. We were sitting on the pavement for quite a long time to see his performance. Unfortunately his mask, together with the ominous sound of music, made my one-and-a-half-year-old son cry and he had to be quickly moved out of the audience. The show, however, didn’t make such a big impression on me as on my child.
When it comes to the march-past of the Fenix Theatre Company, it turned out to be much more cheerful, colourful and truly street-like. Their... let’s call it a walk entitled Sky Dreams didn’t require any fenced stage. Clothed in the oriental attires, they were strolling around The Main Market Square creating colourful performance with the silky kites being the highlight. Regrettably, they arrived here from Germany and not, as it might seem at first sight, from China.
To end my adventure with this year’s Festival, I watched a very successful show of Eo. 45 Dance Theatre near the Cracow Gallery. The show was performed by the present and former students of the faculty of acting from West Suffolk College. This time they staged the performance entitled Twisted Oliver based on the novel of Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist.
This year, unfortunately, I also couldn’t see all performances. I have nothing left to do but to come here next year.