Back to the Future - Central European Avant-Garde Reclaimed  

organized by The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute

November 16–17, 2018

London, UK

The conference „Back to the Future. Central European Avant-Garde Reclaimed” was the next step of the international project “Reclaimed Avant-Garde” that has been developed by The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute since 2017. In London, we analysed the visions and projects of the historical Central-European theatre avant-garde that have not been completed, yet still may serve as a starting point for the future. The “theatre of the future” was an obsession of avant-garde theatre artists, who intended for their work to be further developed by future generations. We know that these dreams never came true as many projects of the ‘theatres of the future’ were strictly utopian. Through a selection of case studies, we considered those projects that still have a potential for contemporary theatre.The conference coincided with the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence, as well as the independence of many Central-European countries involved in the project. One of our aims wasto ask about independence in arts and art of independence. 

The programme included conference sessions and a special panel discussion with two outstanding contemporary theatre artists Alvis Hermanis and Katie Mitchell. 

16th Nov, Friday
Conference sessions 
venue: Birkbeck, Room G04, 43 Gordon Square (free admission)

10.00 registration & introduction
10.15-11.45 session 1 
Tomaz Toporišič // Back to the Future: From constructivist Junge Slowenische Kunst to the retro-avant-garde Cosmikinetic Cabinet Theatre Noordung in zero gravity
Hanna Veselovska // Smart Harlequin in the space of avant-garde and the modern theatre.
Andrea Jochmanová // A World behind the Space (historical analysis)

12.00-13.30 session 2 
Alexandra Chiriac // The Magical and the Mechanical: Experiments for a Future Yiddish Theatre in Bucharest
Przemysław Strożek // Discussing the Ideas of New Theatre in Central and Eastern European Avant-garde Magazines in the years of 1924-1926
Ketevan S. Kintsurashvili // MAELSTROM: The Early 20th-Century Georgian Scenography and How Texts Give Birth to the New Forms in Art

15.00-16.00 session 3 
Justyna Michalik // Avant-garde in the avant-garde. Whether and how Tadeusz Kantor’s Cricot 2 Theatre implemented the postulates of the ‘theatre of the future’?
Dariusz Kosiński // Forgotten relatives, unlistened genealogies. Jerzy Grotowski and Polish theatre avant-garde


16th Nov, Friday
18.30-20.30 panel discussion with Alvis Hermanis and Katie Mitchell
venue: Birkbeck, Room G10, 43 Gordon Square (registration required, free tickets)
moderators: Bryce Lease and Edīte Tišheizere
The panel will be followed by informal discussion and presentation of the book Spaces and Stages of Avant-garde Theatre in Central-Eastern Europe

The event is co-hosted by the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre


17th Nov, Saturday

Conference sessions 
venue: Room 1-04, Senate House, University of London, Malet St, Bloomsbury (free admission)

10.15-11.45 session 4 
Tania Arcimovich // The phenomenon of Junost Studio (1963-1968). Between Modernism and Avant-garde
Martynas Petrikas and Asta Petrikienė // Autonomous Future / Future of Autonomy
Karolina Czerska // Experiments in the Cricot theatre: Krakow vs Warsaw

12.00-13.30 session 5
Višnja Kačić Rogošić // The Legacy of Sergije Glumac
Valentina Chechik // Semaphores of theatrical Suprematism
Zoltán Imre // Olga Szentpál and the Refusal of the Historical Avant-garde

15.00-16.30 session 6
Marcelina Obarska // Nonobvious encounters: avant-garde and object-oriented ontology
Anna Makrzanowska // Practice as Research. Independent Perspective:Liubov Popova’s ‘Traveling Woman’ and telematic gaze


Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute [ZRTI], Adam Mickiewicz Institute [IAM], University of LondonProject is co-organized by the IAM as part of the international cultural program POLSKA 100 celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence and financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the Multi-annual Programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2021.